Interview: Glenn Squeezes out some knowledge

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Squeeze came to prominence during the late 1970s punk/new wave scene, but it soon became apparent that this was not just a New Wave band thrashing out uptempo songs; they were something special.

Led by the song-writing team of Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford, and with Jools Holland on keyboards, the band racked up hit after hit.

Take Me I’m Yours gave them their first Top Twenty hit at the second time of asking in 1978. Cool For Cats and Up The Junction gave the band two consecutive Number twos and showed that their observation of life in the lower echelons of society was as shrewd as The Kinks’ Ray Davies a decade earlier.

Another Nail In My Heart was another uptempo, jaunty piece which preceded the departure of Jools Holland in 1980.

Since then, the band have split up and reconvened on a number of occasions and nine years ago, the Grammy Award –winning writing team of Difford and Tilbrook relaunched Squeeze and have been touring, writing and recording ever since.

They released the album ‘Cradle To The Grave’ a couple of years ago and it was written as a soundtrack to Danny Baker’s BBC sitcom ‘Cradle To Grave’ which starred Peter Kay and was based on Baker’s autobiography; and the band has a new album – ‘The Knowledge’ which they will showcase on their autumn tour which calls at Sheffield this month.

“’Cradle To Grave’ was an amazing thing for us,” Tilbrook tells me from his London home.

“We’d been selling a lot of tickets for shows, but now it translated into sales as well.”

It was a long slog for Glenn and Chris to get their first hit – five years in fact.

“Yes, It was in 1973 and Chris put an ad in a sweetshop window saying that he had a band, record deal and a tour of Europe lined up – none of which he had. But he had some great songs and we started working together.”

As a musician, Glenn has influenced many new bands, but his influences were many.

“I had an older brother who used to buy records by The Beatles, The Who, The Stones and The Kinks and they had a big influence on me, the music of the 60s is just embedded in me.”

With their songwriting, Glenn and Chris became known as ‘The Lennon and McCartney of New Wave’, but this had an adverse affect on them.

“Yeah, I think it went to both our heads but we soon drifted back to earth.”

The new album is set to continue Squeeze’s position as superb observational writers, as Glenn explains.

“We’ve got a whole album of songs for ‘The Knowledge’ that we’re very proud of. The Rough Ride for instance is about the situation we find ourselves in.”

“As a family, the Tilbrooks have been living in this area for 150 years and now people are being priced out, essentially my kids can’t afford to live in the area without help from dad.” He laughs ironically.

Over his career, Glenn has many highlights, but one in particular stands out.

“It was playing the main stage at Glastonbury last year for the first time. I thought we’d never get there and it was just a magical moment.”

Squeeze play Sheffield City Hall on October 26. Tickets available from the box office and usual outlets.