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Something For Kate Interview: Plucked From Memories

"The fans want to hear the obscure songs, the B-sides."

Something For Kate ended a six-year hiatus in 2012 with the Leave Your Soul To Science album putting to bed speculation that the stellar career of one of Australia’s most successful independent rock bands had reached a quiet conclusion. With the third single from the album, Star-Crossed Citizens, released this week, the band have embarked on an extensive Australian tour from Cairns to Castlemaine. This tour is the band’s first ‘real’ opportunity to showcase the album to fans around the country, something which bassist and vocalist Stephanie Ashworth is genuinely excited about. “The first tour we did last year was only quick – a couple of cities only in venues which were not especially large,” she says. “We thought that we’d wait until the album had had time for the album to be out, for people to get to know it, before we did the larger tour; give them a chance to get to know the songs. We find that people have a different relationship with the songs – there’s something to be said for letting the songs sink in, I think.”

With over ten albums in the bag including B-sides and compilations (quite a feat considering the six year break), Something For Kate suffer the same dilemma as any successful, prolific band: how to choose the back catalogue for their upcoming tour. Ashworth is relishing the chance to rifle through the archives – she is happy to stare into the face of the past without fear or embarrassment. “I really enjoy the process of going through our records and deciding which songs we should play again and why,” she says. “There is usually a particular reason some songs are chosen and not others.”

Ashworth holds the seat of power over the setlist, and sometimes is open to democratic debate – sometimes otherwise. “There are times where I’m not fun and can be stubborn about my choices,” she admits. “There are so many moods and atmospheres we want to convey in one evening. We need to make sure there are enough tracks from EPs and singles, enough B-sides. The fans want to hear the obscure songs, the B-sides. Actually, for some reason there is a lot of attention paid to our B-sides – so much so that we put out a double album of them. They seem to resonate for people. For us, they are the songs which are quite often a bit interesting.”

Songwriter Paul Dempsey lets Ashworth and SFK drummer Clint Hyndman make the decisions, choosing to stay out of the Great Setlist Debate. “The setlist is something myself and our drummer preside over,” says Ashworth. “Paul is happy to be told. For him a lot of the emotional labour is in writing the songs, so when it comes to touring them he’s happy to let us do the setlist and to let go a bit.”

So is prising the B-sides out of the memory bank, playing that obscure track made for some compilation years ago – the fourth track from that very first EP – all part of the, er, fun of collating the Something For Kate setlist? Certainly it must be tempting to get a sneaky autocue set up just in case there’s a recall malfunction on stage? “No way! I’d get too much shit from the other band members if I ever used an autocue,” Ashworth laughs, horrified at the thought. “And Paul has an incredible memory, so it’s really only me who lets the team down. I have to intensely rehearse and get my head around the final batch of 40 or 50 songs.”

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