Squeeze have never been a commerically driven band says Chris Difford
- Credit: Archant
Chris Difford of Squeeze on writing, touring and why record sales have never mattered.
Squeeze first formed in 1973, shortly after Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook had begun their songwriting partnership, brought together by an ad in a sweetshop window.
By 1977 they’d made their recording debut and enjoyed a string of hits which lasted until 1982. Over the years there have been solo careers and occasional separations, but the Ivor Novello Award-winning songwriting duo reunited nine years ago to relaunch Squeeze and have been touring, writing and recording together since.
Support on the Join The Dots tour comes from Nine Below Zero, who have carved out a strong reputation as a live band since forming in 1977. The Crack magazine hailed them one of the best blues bands in the country.
Q: Your new album The Knowledge has just dropped, happy...
It’s more mature than Cradle To The Grave (written as a soundtrack to Danny Baker’s BBC TV sitcom Cradle To Grave, based on his autobiography about growing up in South London in the 1970s) in many respects - from a production point of view and from a combination of our band’s playing. It’s got great songs on it and great performances. I think it’s intrinsically a step up from the last album, that’s all you can hope for really.
Q: The music industry has changed since you enjoyed a string of hits as part of the new wave scene in the late 1970s...
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From my point of view, I kind of ignore it because there’s nothing I can do to be a part of the music industry. It is what it is and Squeeze pretty much exist outside of that in many ways. Tours like Join The Dots are really the bread and butter for Squeeze, that’s what puts food on the table so that’s important.
Q: Do chart positions and record sales weigh on your mind...
Not in the slightest and it never has, we’ve never been commercially driven as a band. We make records to please ourselves and if we’re happy then we put the record out and just hope everybody else likes it too.
Q: Has the way you write and record changed...
We record as much as we possibly can live. The production is really down to Glenn (Tilbrook, the band’s co-founder), he’s just a really clever producer. He spends hours manipulating songs, making them sound great. That’s a skill I certainly don’t have.... I don’t think I’ve got the vision he has... everybody’s different, it’s amazing he’s so dedicated in that way.
Q: In terms of the relationship between you and Glenn, the rest of the band, how does this period of Squeeze’s life compare to others...
I don’t think it’s any different apart from we’re a lot older and we take it from a slightly different point of view. When you’re in your 60s you start thinking about different things; about the distance of time and the quality of family life versus being in a band and what that means. We have an incredible history to pull on and that’s always an inspiration in itself.
Q: Your autobiography - Some Fantastic Place: My Life In and Out of Squeeze - is out now...
The hardcover came out in August, it’s coming out in paperback in March. I found it very easy to write, it was difficult to stop.
There’s a whole other book that didn’t go in the book, if you see what I mean; but you’ve got to be careful what you say. So far I’ve had great reviews. I’m feeling very confident about it.
Q: Nine Below Zero - whose covers album 13 Shades Of Blue was one of Glenn’s favourite albums of 2016 - are joining you on tour...
They’re a fantastic band... hopefully they’ll stay on stage and play with us. Our set list is pretty much the same... in the old days we used to mix things up a bit, but now it’s more like a theatrical show where we have to have everything in its place. That brings some security and safety to everybody.
I don’t think audiences are going to see anything other than a really good Squeeze show and that’s what we deliver. We’ll play the hits but we’ll also play new songs too.
Q: Do you still get that same buzz when you get on stage...
I think I’m more grateful actually than I’ve ever been in my life about who I am. That guy who sings Cool For Cats in Squeeze isn’t a bad bloke to be really but sometimes I struggle... I don’t find the journeying very easy sometimes, but once you’re in front of the microphone it’s a bit more relaxing.
Q: Any regrets or advice you’d give your younger self...
No, none that I can think of. I am where I am and I am who I am, that’s what I accept. I think I would’ve been more careful in various neighbourhoods, like financially and mentally... when you’re young being in a band can be all encompassing. For me, anyway, I found it a very dark place to be sometimes so I think I’d open the blinds a bit.
• See Squeeze at the Ipswich Regent October 19, Southend’s Cliffs Pavilion October 24 and Cambridge Corn Exchange October 27.