Recently, two seminal ‘80s, English bands announced a joint US tour and made fans shriek in delight. Ok, maybe I was the one screaming, but surely I was not alone!
The Psychedelic Furs and Squeeze will tour America this fall and OC Music News is counting the days until their arrival.
Now, I don’t want to label them as “just” ‘80s bands because they have continued to release excellent material in the decades since. But many of us Gen Xers will forever look back at the ‘80s as our happiest times with a phenomenal soundtrack that included the Furs’ “Pretty in Pink,” “Love My Way,” and “Heaven,” plus Squeeze’s “Pulling Mussels From a Shell,” “Cool For C ats,” “Black Coffee in Bed,” and “Tempted.”
In 1973, South London teenage friends, Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook set out to be “The new Lennon and McCartney.” Naming their band after a Velvet Underground album, their debut EP was produced by John Cale, coincidentally enough, of Velvet Underground.
Their second album, “Cool For Cats,” earned their place as pioneers in the new wave movement. Despite a hiatus in 1982, they reformed in 1984 and released much of the material we associate with them (and continue to adore).
Through band member changes – and another break in 1999, then reunion in 2007 – Difford and Tilbrook remain the core of Squeeze. Each have released solo material, but return to each other for the Squeeze sound we enjoy so much. With the recently released EP “Food For Thought,” Tilbrook (guitar, keyboards, vocals) and Difford (guitar, vocals) are ready to invade North America again.
Despite being in the midst of a UK tour, Glenn Tilbrook escaped for a bit to Zoom and give us the scoop of what’s ahead.
Traci: Hey Glenn! How are you?
Glenn: I’m good!
Traci: I’m sorry, you have a full day of press, don’t you?
Glenn: It’s fairly busy, but not too busy. I’ve got a few things.
Traci: As a member of that annoying press, I had to do my research and stalk you. I found out that you are a very busy man with Squeeze and your solo stuff. So, do you ever sit and do nothing?
Glenn: Actually, I’ve done a reasonable amount of that recently. (laughing) I like doing that. I like getting the swing of working. It’s great to take some time out to do stuff like cooking, walking, all that normal stuff.
Traci: How was Glastonbury? (Tilbrook played a solo set at this year’s massive Glastonbury Festival).
Glenn: Wow, Glastonbury was amazing. Really great. And then I went to a different festival called Love Supreme the next weekend and that also was really great. I wasn’t playing at Love Supreme, so I got to see a lot of stuff. Love Supreme isn’t a big festival; there are three stages and you can walk around there quite easily. The best music I saw was people I didn’t know; who I just stumbled across, went in, and looked and thought, “This is really, really amazing.” So I saw a band, an African band called The Cavemen, who was sort of like a super weird… my point of reference was The Police, the sort of interplay that the three players had. There was nothing like The Police, but what they did was to drift in between psychedelic and jazz and you couldn’t see the joins and it was really, really exciting. So that was good. And I saw Cherise, who has just released her first album; just wandered in, again. Brilliant songs, great band, and she’s obviously just pleased to be there, and it’s great. Someone on the cusp of what could be a very long journey. It’s lovely to see that.
Traci: You were over here for a festival recently, when you filled in last minute for Adam Ant at Cruel World. How much notice did you have for that?
Glenn: Yeah, we got the call on Thursday evening, and the gig was on Saturday. (laughing) It was crazy. I’ve never done anything like that before. So it requires instant decision making and all of us could make it except Chris. So we said, “Look, that’s the way, obviously we’d rather have Chris, but we can’t. So is that okay?” You know what? I really enjoyed that show. I thought we did well and I think that maybe we wouldn’t have been invited, with it being sort of more punky gothic type thing, but I think it was great for us.
Traci: Now you get to come back and be all of you.
Glenn: Yeah, that’ll be good, too. It’ll be nice. This is our only touring this year; it’s been quite a light year in terms. We’ll be doing a lot next year. Our aim is to do two albums sometime in the fall; one of which is going to be 50-year-old songs, and the other one’s going to be an album of new songs. So that’s the hook for it. How many people will be interested in that, I don’t know, but it’s to keep us together. It’s the glue that keeps us together, is to try and to do new things every now and then.
Traci: Hey, I always like to hear new things! I’m sure there’s lots of people that will like new Squeeze! When you come to America on tour, is there anything in particular that you like to see or do, or are you just work, work, work?
Glenn: I like to absorb my surroundings. I love getting a chance to explore somewhere I haven’t been. Ever since I started solo touring, it was such a revelation to me to travel in an RV and to actually make an effort to look out rather than, touring is all about looking in normally, well it’s not for me anymore, but it used to be. It’s so much more fun to do that, to go out and see. It’s an amazing country. I love coming to America and I love being there. I love exploring it.
Traci: What made you decide to do the joint tour with Psychedelic Furs? Are you guys longtime friends or was it just a “we were having a beer one night and said let’s do this?”
Glenn: It sounded like a really good pairing and we’re looking for that at the moment. The last lot of touring we did with Daryl Hall and John Oates, and that was an amazing tour. I think that you’re looking to hook up with people who wouldn’t necessarily just come and see either band, but the package is good, so it’s good for both of us. I think musically, it will be a good match.
Traci: I can see that. My husband and I were going to go to your show anyway, because we like both bands, but – without me pushing it on him – my teenager loves you guys, so he’s coming too. I have been seeing that at a lot of shows lately; multiple generations. I can only assume it is pretty cool to see fans of all ages attending.
Glenn: Yeah, I have four sons ranging in age from 33 to 18, so the two younger ones, I’ve watched their development through the prism of being on Spotify. There are many disadvantages to Spotify, but one of the amazing things is how it’s connected everybody up with most music and certainly younger generations aren’t really differentiating between current and old music. If they like it, they like it. I think that’s a new thing that brought about by the change in the way that we listen to it.
Traci: I know you guys do a lot for charity, and your current UK tour correlates with last year’s “Food For Thought” EP that benefits UK food aid networks. Tell me more about that.
Glenn: Yeah, that’s what we want to do. It’s tough times for some people. We started doing it here just because in the UK, because there was a tangible need. I first hooked up with this organization called the Trussell Trust in 2017. I did something by myself with them and then brought it to Squeeze and Chris is really on board with that. It’s great to be able to help do something technical. It’s harder to do in America because I don’t have the same sort of contact, but we’d like to bring some help to people who need it, and that’s a good thing we can do.
Traci: Let’s see. Albums and concerts for charity. Two new albums on the way. The States tour starts September 8th. Anything else we need to be ready for?
Glenn: No, just that I’m very enthusiastic about coming over and looking forward to playing.
Traci: I look forward to seeing you live. You won’t remember, but I met you 30 years ago when I was an intern at KROQ and you were visiting Richard Blade.
Glenn: Oh, wow!
Traci: So, it was good to see you again! (laughing)
Glenn: That’s really nice. Thank you. Cheers!
Thank you to Glenn for chatting and I look forward to seeing Squeeze perform in September in Nashville. California peeps catch The Psychedelic Furs + Squeeze tour in San Diego on October 9th at The Sound, and Los Angeles on October 13th at The Greek Theatre.