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Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze performs at The Current

Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze performs in The Current studio.
Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze performs in The Current studio.MPR photo/Nate Ryan
  Play Now [24:04]

by Bill DeVille, Glenn Tilbrook and Squeeze

November 24, 2015

Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze - Happy Days (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze - Nirvana (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR
Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze - Black Coffee in Bed (Live on 89.3 The Current)
by MPR

Glenn Tilbrook is from England, but he's no stranger to Thanksgiving. "Come on!" he laughs. "It's not my first time around the block."

Tilbrook has some American friends who live near him in London, and when he's at home, Tilbrook celebrates Thanksgiving with them. This year, however, Tilbrook is spending Thanksgiving in the States; he already has plans. "I'm going to do a dish," he says. "I'm going to do some fish in soy sauce, ginger and spring onion. It's going to be grilled lightly, it's going to be lovely and it's going to be one of many dishes that we'll be using to celebrate."

He's got plenty to be thankful for. Tilbrook and his longtime Squeeze bandmate, Chris Difford, are playing two sold-out shows this week at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis. The shows will be acoustic. "It's a different way for Chris and I to connect," Tilbrook explains. "There's an element of the shows where we're doing a lot more talking, we're doing a lot more answering people's questions and just sort of generally explaining ourselves. We've been together since 1973; that's a long history. … I'm really grateful for that."

Difford and Tilbrook have also released a new album, Cradle to the Grave, a collection of songs the duo have written for a BBC television series of the same name, based on the life of writer, comedian and DJ, Danny Baker. "I rang up Danny because I knew him, he's a contemporary of mine and Chris's, and we grew up in the same area of London," Tilbrook explains, describing how Squeeze were chosen to write music for the show. "I said to him, 'Look this should be a musical - I know your life because it's just like mine.'"

Before playing at the Cedar, Tilbrook visited The Current's studio where he performed a solo acoustic set hosted by The Current's Bill DeVille.

Here are highlights from Glenn Tilbrook's interview with Bill DeVille:

On writing the album, Cradle to the Grave, for the show of the same name:
"For us, it's an unusual Squeeze record; first of all, it's the first one we've had this century. But also, it's the first record we've done where we've had a theme to write around. It was quite loose, we didn't have to write to a story line. The song sort of comments. Really, largely, we were given free rein to exist outside the script. None of our dialogue is propelling the plot along. For us, what a great scenario to write for. … I don't think we could have done such a happy song (i.e. "Happy Days") were it not for having that excuse. By nature, we're a bit more miserable than that!"

On his and Difford's appearances on the TV program:
"I wouldn't really call it acting. We have a cameo part playing two old musicians in a working men's club — not so different, really, from our real lives! Maybe we just dress a little bit differently."

On falling back into writing with Chris Difford again:
"It was a bit of a strange process; it took us a long while to get really going again as writers. We'd been sort of curating our past with Squeeze, up until this year really. And then to get going on some new stuff was initially … We'd done a few songs a few years ago, but to get stuff that was really good took us a while; we had to reject a lot of stuff in order to get there.

"It's interesting how the process works between Chris and I because we'd spent so many years working together and then 17, 18 years not writing together. And so that whole process, revisiting that, was amazing really."

On how Squeeze approached songwriting then versus now:
"We were very strictly 'Chris, lyrics' and 'me, music.' I was 15 when I met Chris, and his lyrics were amazing — and mine were not. But I did good tunes, and perhaps better than Chris's, so we naturally fell into that mold. And I had no reason to question that as I was really happy doing Chris's lyrics. And then when we split up, I sort of had to learn how to write by myself and I quite like that process now, but it was only because I had to, because I never felt the lack of a voice because Chris's stuff expressed things so eloquently.
… It's become more of a collaborative thing between us now. It's a great thing; to put two sets of eyes on stuff rather than one, it's got to be a good thing."

On the comparisons of Difford-Tilbrook to Lennon-McCartney:
"It was daunting at the time. When those comparisons first came out, I think we went through a little period of looking out at our writing, and we went a bit pretentious for a bit. I don't think we knew we were doing that, but that's my opinion on what came out for a couple years afterwards. Then we drifted back down to Earth, and it's not something that ever enters my mind now. It's a very flattering comparison, I love the fact that people made it, but it's not something that I think about."

On the endurance of Squeeze's music:
"When I look back on our songbook, we've got a lot of stuff that has stood up over the years and I'm very proud of that … I just feel immensely proud of that and lucky to have met Chris at the time that I did, because we sparked off something in each other that I don't think either of us individually would have done."

On the new music he enjoys:
"The really big thing that has happened in my life in the last two years is a woman called Kate Tempest, who I think is just the most amazing poet. She does that thing that really good art does, which is it introduces me to a new world that I had no interest in before. She's so eloquent with her words, she's so eloquent in the pictures she paints. … I'm very much a fanboy. In fact, I went to see her and had the chance to meet her and I was so tongue-tied, I couldn't say anything, I couldn't even speak to her. I love her so much."

More Video

Songs Performed

"Happy Days"
"Black Coffee In Bed"
First two songs are from Squeeze's 2015 album, Cradle to the Grave, available on Caroline Records. Third song is from Squeeze's 1982 album, Sweets from Strangers, released on A&M Records.

Hosted by Bill DeVille
Produced by Derrick Stevens
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