Squeeze rolls into HoagieNation this Saturday
Squeeze, an English rock band that formed in the mid ‘70s, who are known for many hits including “Tempted,” “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell),” “Black Coffee in Bed” and “Hourglass” will be part of HoagieNation at The Mann on August 7, 2021. The one-day music festival will be headlined by Hall & Oates and will also include the acts Kool & The Gang, The Wailers, Craig Robinson & The Nasty Delicious, The Soul Survivors and Down North!
Steve Cooper recently interviewed Glenn Tilbrook who is the lead singer and one of the founding members of Squeeze for the CooperTalk podcast. Tilbrook also writes all the music while fellow band member Chris Difford writes the lyrics. You can hear the complete interview at coopertalk.net.
Q: What got you interested in music?
A: I think I was one of those lucky people who—I didn’t have any training. My parents love music so there was always music running in the house. From what I know now that I didn’t know then, is that I can hear music like really well and it would touch my soul and obsess from a really young age, so it was the most natural thing in the world for me. So I learned to play piano, guitar to the satisfaction of being able to play whatever songs I was listening to at the time. That’s what I taught myself to do. It was the beginning of an obsession.
Q: How is that you write the music and Chris Difford the lyrics?
A: I think Chris and I were really fortunate. When we met Chris, he wrote great songs all by himself, but he’s lyrical way, way longer than anything I have ever written. There’s nearly—it’s two and a half years. It’s been three years actually that age gap between us. And when you’re 15 that’s quite a lot of years. Chris gave me some lyrics and I just knocked out with it. It just felt like a really great thing to do when he gave me some lyrics. I put tunes to it immediately. And like much of our relationship, we never really discussed it. It was unsaid that it works that way. Let’s not break it.
Q: How did you get involved with the support of food banks?
A: I don’t want to over dramatize it, but I grew up in a single parent family and we didn’t have a lot of money. I did never go hungry but I’m sure my mom did at some points. I remember the shame of feeling poor sometimes. Me begging my mom I didn’t want to go have the school’s free meals because of the stigma attached that everyone would know your kid is on free school meals, so I certainly emphasize with that … I think in Britain there’s enough money to make those things not happen … I’m not a very good organizer but one thing I can do is attract a certain amount of tension and garner people up to help out. I was proud that I was able to work with people who work in food banks that make food and the charity here, Trussell Trust, do an amazing job. I just felt like a really small part of helping.
Q: How did Squeeze start?
A: I was playing when I was 10, 11 and 12. When I was 13, I met Jools [Holland] actually [through a friend]. She knew Jools and she knew me. I was in school with her. She said to me, “You should meet this guy. He’s a really good piano player, and I think you’ll get on.”
He and I have never met anyone else who could play, so we started playing together. I had known Jools for about a year and a half before I met Chris Difford replying to an ad that he put in a local store window. And when I met Chris, Chris really sparked a whole different thing. With Jools, we were two musicians playing. Chris became more of a writer. Chris had a lot of songs already. I had a few that I’ve written. So really Chris and Jools for me were separate things, but maybe six months Chris and I had a totally different plan before we had Squeeze. But then once I hit on the idea of bringing Jools and Chris together that was the start with Squeeze.
Q: Why did Squeeze split up the first time?
A: A lot of people talk about mental health and I’ll tell you the five years of touring and doing an album and writing without any proper break at all will do your head in … We just needed some time off. It was the only way. We knew how to put breaks on and say, “All right! That’s it!” But the band has sort of started to implode as well. Gilson [Lavis] was drinking. His drinking was completely out of control, but I won’t hold that against him. It’s just where he was then. It became a competition for him to try and break out whatever straight jacket he felt he was in and certainly one of those became the band.
Q: What can we expect from the upcoming tour?
A: From Philadelphia we have Owen Biddle playing bass and singing with us, which is really great, so Owen came over and stayed with us after isolating. We just had a really great time deciding what other songs we’re going to do. How we’re going to arrange them. What we can do. We got some really exciting stuff. I think this is the tour when I feel we’re the most prepared and we’re going to be the best we’ve ever been, and we were pretty good last summer, but this one is a different level.
Q: What is your favorite Squeeze song to play live and what song means the most to you?
A: I’m going to say the three I like best at the moment is the opening track of Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti. It’s called “Big Beng” but I don’t like the record version. I like the live version that we do now, and I’ve just finished mixing actually of what is going to be a live Squeeze record and it’s got that version on it, the new version, and it is everything I hope it would be when I wrote it. And the second part of the question ... I’m going to say “Tempted” because it felt like a statement from us of going to a different place and sounding like a different band and I’m proud that we can do that.