Thursday, June 28, 2012

Squeeze Q&A

A version of my story originally ran at The band is currently on tour with the B-52's and hits the Greek Theater in LA on June 30. 

When it comes to astute observations on British life, few can rival Squeeze.

The veteran London pop/rock band, led by singer/guitarists Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, came to prominence during the late 1970s new wave era and notched a dozen top 40 UK singles.

Here in the States, it was a mainstay on college radio stations and then-embryonic alt-rock format with sharply-penned tunes “Up the Junction,” “Goodbye Girl,” “Pulling Muscles (From the Shell),” “Is That Love?,” the Paul Carrack-sung “Tempted” – used in numerous TV commercials - and “Black Coffee in Bed.”

Squeeze finally found true American success with 1987’s “Babylon and On,” which contained the hits “Hourglass” and “853-5937.” The compilation “Singles - 45’s and Under” went platinum.

Regularly associated with Elvis Costello & The Attractions (whose members often worked on Squeeze records), Difford & Tilbrook have dissolved the group and resumed their partnership several times over the years, putting out solo efforts in the interim. 

Honored with a prestigious Ivor Novello Award for contribution to British music in 2008, Squeeze has been cited as an influence by popular young English acts Kasabian, Mark Ronson, Lily Allen and Razorlight. Recently recorded covers of their songs include The Shins (“Goodbye Girl”) and Belle and Sebastian (“Cool for Cats”).

The latest Squeeze release is a limited-edition, white vinyl double album Live at the Fillmore. Recorded at the historic San Francisco venue in 2010, it is sold at shows and through, but comes in a digital version too.

Fans who attend the tour with the B-52’s can purchase a same show Squeeze recording afterward on CD or zip drive/USB formats.

Ensconced in a studio working on the long-awaited studio follow up to 1998’s “Domino,” Difford talked about performing live and other aspects of Squeeze’s career in an email interview. 

Question: Since Squeeze has played the San Diego area many times over the years, I wondered if any standout gigs come to mind.
Answer: The West Coast is full of memories. None are stand alone, yet they seem the same. We have played there too much recently and I think [Harrah’s] could be one of our last shows there for awhile. 

Q: During the band’s tour of Southern California this past April, you included several deep album cuts in the setlist. Did that keep the shows fresher for you, as opposed to strictly doing the hits or singles?
A: We always tip out the songs that fit the tour well. It keeps us on our toes. The hits are always going to go down the best. People glaze over hearing new songs as I do when see bands I like playing new songs. It's [just] how it is. 

Q: What was your impression on playing the Coachella Festivals for the first time? Did it live up to the hype?
A: No, it was very clean and tidy - a golf club of a festival. But having said that, I enjoyed our time on stage. 

Q: I thought the visual presentation during those shows, with the animated Squeeze cartoon and historical news clips montage, was brilliant. Will you continue to using it during the summer concert trek?
A: Who knows? We will see, it's all about budget. 

Q: Have you toured with the B-52’s in the past?
A: Never before. I’ve never seen them live. 

Q: At one point in the sets, before “Who’s That,” Glenn said it was a combination of Captain Beefheart, Paul McCartney and James Last. Were those three musicians formative influences on either of you?
A: Maybe for Glenn; not for me. 

Q: Why was the new live album recorded at the Fillmore in San Francisco? Was that show the best one on the tour?
A: It was an end off idea to record the show. It worked very well and I'm proud of it. Live albums are, for the most part, excuses for not having any new songs. They fill a gap; plug a hole. 

Q: Are you pleased with the reaction Squeeze got from meticulously recreating your greatest hits for the “Spot the Difference” album in 2010?
A: It was Glenn's idea. He did all the work and I think it worked. 
Q: If you had to choose, which albums in the Squeeze catalog do you think still stand the test of time and why?
A: [1981’s Costello-produced] “East Side Story.” It had everything a record should have: a band united by song, a great producer and a caring time frame. You won't get much better from us, I'm sure. 

Q: What has it been like having the Difford & Tilbrook musical partnership back together again since 2007? Do you envision the new studio album consisting of all-new material or possibly songs you’ve stockpiled?
A:  We will be recording and there will be new songs. It's all there in the great out there of life. I'm done, but I'm happy. 

Q: How would you rate the current lineup of Squeeze, with bassist John Bentley back in the fold for the first time since the early ‘80s, among those of the past?
A: It's one of the best lineups: great people, who perform Squeeze as a badge. Very proud to know them all, but I wouldn't have them around for Christmas! 

Q: Do you hear any new artists out there carrying on the Squeeze tradition?
A: No, I'm not listening with those ears on.

No comments: