Interview: Glenn Tilbrook (Squeeze)
Published on December 19th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Squeeze legend Glenn Tilbrook releases his typically wonderful new solo album Happy Ending on February 10th, so we sought to find out more about it in that way that we do.
In the process of doing so we learned of an exciting new ITV series he’s working on with erstwhile bandmate Chris Difford and virtuoso broadcaster Danny Baker, to be based on the latter’s autobiography…
Songs on the album feature and/or are titled after characters named Ray, Persephone, Rupert, Kev, Dave and Peter. Are these all based on real people?
Persephone’s real. Ray is about three people I amalgamated, all real. Kev and Dave are definitely real. Rupert’s real as well. Most of them are real, in fact; friends, acquaintances, people I’ve known.
When you write lyrics you’re always on the lookout for something that will click with you, and sometimes it takes a while to filter through. There are a couple of ‘name’ songs that I haven’t managed to finish that I really want to: one’s called “Wendy”, one’s called “Clive”. To get the balance of it right sometimes takes me a long time.
Are there many songs that didn’t make the cut, and if so what do you plan to do with them? Might they find their way onto the next Squeeze album?
I don’t really know. Once this year’s finished, Chris and I are going to be working on a series with Danny Baker, a comedy-drama for ITV. It’s going to be six hour-long episodes and we have two songs per episode, so ITV have effectively become Squeeze’s record label! Weird, but great.
The series is autobiographical on Danny’s part, so we’re ideally fixed to add our bits because we grew up in exactly the same environment.
Have you known Danny for a long time?
We met when we were in our teens and bumped into each other constantly. We were more acquaintances than mates. He’s absolutely fantastic, relentlessly upbeat, which is an admirable quality I think.
I am working with Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook on a big ol' project just now and can confirm their brilliance remains utterly undimmed.
— Danny Baker (@prodnose) October 21, 2013
@prodnose wow wow and thrice wow
— Al Murray (@ajhmurray) October 21, 2013
@prodnose The Lennon & McCartney of my generation. Tilbrook & Difford.
— Graham (@Yer_ActualGTC) October 21, 2013
“Bongo Bill” was written with your 10-year-old son Leon. How did that come about?
He just wanted to write something one day and I was helping him. He writes songs himself and they’re good songs, he’s better than I was at his age. I’m a proud father. I was helping him with some songs and he said, “Why don’t we write a song together?” so we wrote “Bongo Bill”.
The song was really pitched for Leon’s voice rather than mine – I would sing a lot higher if it was by myself – but with the two of us together it sounds great.
Where was the group singing in “Ice Cream” recorded?
It was recorded at my studio at about midnight after someone’s birthday party. I had about fifty people in the studio (laughs)…it was a very spontaneous event and it captured the moment, so I was very pleased with that.
Was Chris involved in the album in any way?
No, he wasn’t. The song “Mud Island” I started writing about me and then it ended up being an amalgamation of me and Danny Baker; it was going to be for that project but I got so excited I just finished it. So no, we didn’t write together on this record at all.
How far along is the new Squeeze album?
We talked about it for a long time so we’ve got a very definite destination for it. Some songs are written already but we need to write more.
Will there be a tour to accompany it?
We’ve cleared the decks to just do this TV thing for now, so it’s the first time ever at this time of year that I can’t tell you what I’ll be doing next year. Normally I’ll know by this time.
Finally, are there any modern-day bands that you see as being in Squeeze’s image?
Not that I’m aware of. The last bands that I thought were sort of…not like Squeeze, but reminded me of the energy and passion of early Squeeze…were The Zutons and The Coral. I saw both of them when they were starting out at Lancaster University and it was an amazing show. That would have been twelve or thirteen years ago now.
Glenn Tilbrook, thank you.
Happy Ending will be released February 10th on Quixotic Records. For more information, please visit the official Glenn Tilbrook website.