Critical Questions: Glenn TilbrookBy Jim Allen
Squeeze's singer talks shop.
Squeeze were the pop princes of the New Wave era, tossing out unforgettable singles like "If I Didn't Love You" and "Another Nail in My Heart" like flapjacks off a diner grill. Today they're back together and touring, led once more by songwriting partners Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, and their latest release Live at the Fillmore shows they've lost nary a step. They're also looking towards cutting the first new Squeeze record in 15 years. Tilbrook talks about taking Squeeze further into the 21st century.
The band pulls out pretty all of the most beloved Squeeze classics on Live at the Fillmore, but one song that really pulls people's heartstrings is "Up The Junction," why do you think that is?
I think "Up the Junction" appeals to people because you have a complete story within a three-minute pop song, taking you through all the stages [of a relationship]. I think that song was inspired by Bob Dylan, [but] it sounds nothing like Bob Dylan. But it stands up as a story -- I think that's why it still works now.
Another big crowd-pleaser on the album is "Tempted," which former Ace singer/keyboardist Paul Carrack sang on East Side Story. Was he initially brought aboard strictly to play keyboards?
No, not at all -- one of the things I really liked about Paul was the fact that he could sing so beautifully, and he was another string to our bow, as it were. I always liked the fact that, prior to Paul, Jools [Holland, keyboardist] had sang, and Chris was singing on the records, and we'd had singles released that had different singers. I liked that about the band. It shouldn't just be my voice all the time. That's one of the things I still like about the band, that it's not just based around my vocal.
How did you and Chris first hit upon those octave-based vocal harmonies that became a Squeeze signature?
That's one of those things, we didn't even talk about it, that's just the way [we did it]. When we started singing together, that's what happened -- it's as unplanned as that. That's just what we did; then later on we realized, "Wow, that's quite unique."
You're working on material for a new Squeeze album. What are your goals for the recording?
It's got to be new, fresh, challenging. The thing I want to do with this Squeeze thing is get me and Chris singing (together) a bit more, because we sort of lost sight of that a bit, and it still is such a great sound, and it's so us. I want to do that. Besides that, all bets are off.
What do you think the production approach will be?
Technology's moved on. "Take Me, I'm Yours" and "Goodbye Girl," the original versions, we were really experimenting then. I want that to come back to the band. But I also want it to be a band that works things out spontaneously and commits to that. Because the way that the recording process grew in the ‘80s, we sort of lost that [spontaneity]. We'd spend eight months on an album rather than three weeks. It was necessary, but I want to get back to the old way, I like that.
|"Tempted" Live at the Fillmore|