Earlier this year Paul Dempsey had us hagning in anticipation when he unveiled his single, ‘Morningless’, taken from his eagerly anticipated, forthcoming solo LP Strange Loop (out May 13) which Dempsey recorded with Wilco and Ryan Adams producer Tom Schick and is set to drop later this year.

Arriving seven years since the Something For Kate frontman released his critically acclaimed solo debut album, Everything Is True, it was a an exciting taste of what’s to come from the songwriter’s latest long player.

“With every new song and each new record you just hope to chisel everything a little cleaner than last time, paint the scenery in more precise detail and give some extra dimensions to the stories and also to have as much fun as possible creating all the accompanying noise. I feel completely satisfied that I’ve done that with this record.” says Dempsey of the new LP.

To get more of a sneak preview of what to expect from the anticipated release, Dempsey took us inside the studio to look at the gear that was integral to the crafting of Strange Loop, check it out below along with the LP’s latest single and video ‘The True Sea’. To stay up to date with Paul pop by his Facebook page. Pre-order the new LP here.

M.I. Audio ‘Mutant’

This is a pedal that Michael Ibrahim at M.I. Audio first made for me about twelve years ago and it’s been the principle overdrive/distortion unit on my board ever since, he’s now made about five of them for me over the years and I pretty much never plug in without one.

It’s essentially two of his Blue-Boy Deluxe pedals placed discretely in one chassis, switching one side on switches the other side off so the two are never stacked. It allows me to sculpt and switch between two sounds without having to tap-dance around turning two pedals on and off.

Critter & Guitari Pocket Piano

I have loads of fun with this thing. It’s basically a little plank of wood and wire with an anodized cover, cute little wooden keys, a few knobs, a 9 volt battery and a 3 watt speaker and you can go anywhere making all the random senseless noise you like!

Take a line out into a guitar amp, through a pedal board or just point the 3W speaker at the nearest microphone and have at it.

Fender Jazzmaster

I’ve always been a jazzmaster guy. I love the way they look and sound and being a tall guy they feel really comfortable on me as they are a bit longer than other guitars, nice big fretboard, great tremolo etc…

I also love a standard telecaster, I have some nice old vintage jazzmasters and tele’s that I absolutely adore. I went to Chicago to record this album in Wilco’s Loft Studio and I was initially a little wary about not bringing any of my own guitars (they told me not to bother).

Of course I knew they would have great stuff but y’know, I’m pretty attached to my stuff. Anyways, let’s just say I wasn’t disappointed with the options over there! Attached is a black and white pic of me playing one of Nels Cline’s jazzmasters. A nice turn of events as he borrowed one of mine last time they were here. Pic by Maclay Heriot.

Mellotron M4000D

I love Mellotrons and I love beautiful old vintage stuff. I also love the fact that the M4000D perfectly captures the sound and vibe of the original mellotron in something that is far more portable, functional and easy to maintain!

So many great sounds in this thing and the ability to blend two banks means you can create as many different tones and textures as you please. Sounds great through a guitar amp too!


I sat down at the drumkit in the loft and picked up a pair of Glenn Kotche’s signature drumsticks and was immediately struck by the weird contouring at the end, the manufacturer calls it the ‘wavehandle’ (most people would describe it as ‘ribbed’).

Either way, my initial reservations quickly disappeared as I started playing. They are really comfortable to play with and they have a coating that gets grippier in your hand the more you play so you’re less likely to drop them.
Anyways, I’m not someone who ever gave a shit either way about drumsticks but I liked these a lot!

Vocal Mic

I’ve sung into many different microphones in studios over the years, most of them very old, very beautiful and very expensive.

I remember a long time ago singing into a Shure SM7 and not thinking much of it (possibly something else in the signal chain wasn’t doing it for me) but I’m happy to report that in recent times I’ve had a bit of a revelation with this inexpensive and sturdy little beast and it’s become my go-to vocal mic.

Of course this always depends on the singer and many other variables but the SM7 just feels right for my particular voice. Pic by Maclay Heriot.


Headphones are obviously important in the studio, I can’t just grab a pair from the pile and start recording, I need to know that I’m actually hearing what I think I’m hearing and what I think is going down on tape (or ’tape’). Which might sound strange, I don’t know.

I’ve been using these Sennheiser HD280Pro headphones for donkey’s years and they’re nice and comfortable to wear but more importantly I know them extremely well and they have a nice warm, balanced response that I just trust. I take them everywhere. They break often. I’ve bought several pairs. But they’re worth it. Pic by Maclay Heriot)

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