Tilbrook - Biography
Mention Glenn Tilbrook and most people may immediately think of Squeeze. After all, with his writing partner Chris Difford, Tilbrook was responsible for Top Ten hits all around the world such as “Tempted”, “Hourglass”, “Cool For Cats” and “Up The Junction”. Ever since their first EP in 1977, Squeeze has delighted audiences with their brand of honky-tonk new wave and pithy lyricism, while their stock in the music world has seen the likes of Jools Holland, Paul Carrack and Elvis Costello all contribute to their work.
However, since an acrimonious split in 1998 Squeeze has been on the backburner. Although you might forgive him for resting on his laurels after 13 albums and countless tours all over the world, Tilbrook has continued to write and perform with the same enthusiasm that he brought to Squeeze’s earliest recordings. With his two solo albums, “The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook” and “Transatlantic Ping-Pong”, he proved he’s lost none of the joie-de-vivre that became Squeeze’s trademark. For 2009’s album “Pandemonium Ensues”, he injected some fresh faces by recruiting new band The Fluffers and some prestigious guests in the shape of Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. This has been complemented by a conversational live show that is delightfully shambling in its approach – Tilbrook loves blurring the boundary between crowd and performer by performing requests and even taking his audience for walkabouts to set up impromptu gigs!
Although a Squeeze reunion had always looked unlikely, Tilbrook and Difford’s paths slowly began to cross with more frequency, leading to a series of low-key gigs together in 2007. In 2008, super fan Mark Ronson presented them with the Ivor Novello Award for Outstanding Contribution to British Music, while Lily Allen called them the Robert De Niro of music when they received the Nordoff-Robbins Icon Award. With the addition of former Squeeze bassist John Bentley, and Fluffers pair Stephen Large and Simon Hanson, this lineup has been winning fans all over again with gigs and festival appearances at the likes of V, Oxegen, T in The Park, Guilfest and Latitude, reminding us all of the outstanding back catalogue that Squeeze possess.
Yet it is away from music that Tilbrook is now making his most important contribution. He is a member of the charity Love Hope Strength, set up by his good friend Mike Peters (The Alarm). Work for this has involved record-breaking treks up the likes of Everest and Kilimanjaro with fellow musicians, raising money to buy equipment to help cancer sufferers across the world.
Clearly, for Glenn Tilbrook playing is about enjoying the moment, and it’s that desire and enthusiasm that sets him apart from so many of his peers. Whether he’s playing to a room of 50 people or to a festival crowd, either with Squeeze or solo, Glenn Tilbrook still gets the buzz from playing and making music that is all too rare among his peers or those he has inspired, and marks him out as a perfomer to be cherished.
SQUEEZE - Biography
It’s 1973 in South London. Teenage friends Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook form the band that will see them dubbed ‘The New Lennon and McCartney’. Over 35 years later, with their legacy intact and as vital as it has ever been, Squeeze are still touring and reminding fans worldwide just why they have left such an indelible impression on the UK’s music scene.
As teenagers on the South London scene, Squeeze – setting out their stall early on by facetiously naming themselves after a poorly-received Velvet Underground album, and at the time also comprised of Jools Holland on keys, Harry Kakouli on bass and Paul Gunn on drums - became a fixture of the burgeoning New Wave movement. When Gilson Lavis replaced Gunn on drums everything seemed to fall into place, and word of mouth soon spread about the band - ironically, it was none other than Velvet Underground man John Cale who caught wind in 1977 and offered to produce their debut EP ‘Packet Of Three’ and much of the ensuing album.
Yet it was second album ‘Cool For Cats’, released in 1979, which cemented their place as one of Britain’s most important young bands. Featuring the classic single ‘Up The Junction’ as well as the title track, it was many listeners’ first introduction to the witty kitchen-sink lyricism and new-wave guitar music that has become the band’s trademark. With albums ‘Argybargy’ and the Elvis Costello-produced ‘East Side Story’, Squeeze even started to make waves across the pond, although in 1980 former Roxy Music and Ace - and future Mike + The Mechanics – man Paul Carrack would replace Jools Holland, going on to lend his unmistakeable vocals to the smash hit ‘Tempted’.
By 1984 Squeeze had disbanded. The chemistry between Tilbrook and Difford could not be as easily dismissed however, and the ensuing record they made together has become the “lost” Squeeze album for many fans. But the band couldn’t lay dormant for long, as Squeeze reformed the next year for ‘Cosi Fan Tutti Frutti’, along with Holland, Lavis and Keith Wilkinson, Squeeze’s longest serving bass player. Over the next 12 years Difford and Tilbrook remained the only constant element as Squeeze continued to receive critical acclaim, release albums and tour, with the likes of ‘Hourglass’ becoming their biggest ever hit in the USA.
Despite an official Squeeze break-up in 1999, Difford and Tilbrook continued to make music and gig with the same enthusiasm and abandon that they brought to Squeeze’s first EP, either with their own solo projects or with each other. Chris Difford has released two solo albums to date, with a third ‘Chris, That And The Other’ set to be the first release from the innovative online label Saturday Morning Music Club later this year. Glenn Tilbrook, meanwhile, has released three solo albums, with 2009’s ‘Pandemonium Ensues’ heralding the debut of his other band The Fluffers and saw him recording with Johnny Depp and Vanessa Paradis. Tilbrook has also been an active member of the Love Hope Strength Foundation, which sees him join fellow musicians such as founder Mike Peters (The Alarm), going on treks and climbing some of the globe’s greatest landmarks in order to raise money to help treat cancer sufferers throughout the world.
As befits one of the UK’s much-loved acts, there is no end of Squeeze fans currently wearing their influences firmly on their sleeve, whether it be Mark Ronson, Kasabian, Supergrass, Lily Allen, The Feeling or Razorlight. With their fingerprints keenly felt throughout the fabric of popular music, it is only right that these songs, with their evergreen and popular sound, continue to be played and enjoyed live. And so since 2007, a newly reformed Squeeze have been slowly finding time to play a series of gigs and festival dates, preferring to reaffirm their abilities as a band rather than follow some of their peers who have come out in a blaze of publicity, only to be met with disappointment. The new Squeeze line-up, their most able yet, is completed by Squeeze veteran John Bentley and Tilbrook’s Fluffers cohorts Simon Hanson and Stephen Large, and has become an instant favourite on the festival circuit since reforming with appearances at V, Oxegen, T in the Park and Latitude.
Squeeze’s contribution to music has been noted in 2010 with the site of their first gig being awarded a prestigious PRS For Music Heritage Plaque, which has so far commemorated the debuts of Blur and Dire Straits. It joins an ever-increasing list of Squeeze accolades alongside their recent Ivor Novello for Outstanding Contribution to British Music and their Nordoff-Robbins Icon Award. Chris Difford’s lyrics and Glenn Tilbrook’s music have survived everything over the years, from the ever-changing musical landscape to their own internal reshuffles and acrimonious breakups - but Squeeze is here to stay, still going strong and still loving every moment.