Glenn Tilbrook, lead singer and guitarist with English band Squeeze chats with Kevin Cooper about singing and playing on the Nottingham tram system, supporting The Trussell Trust and Help Musicians charities, their new single Food For Thought and their current 2022 UK tour with John Cooper Clarke.

Glenn Tilbrook is the lead singer and guitarist of English band Squeeze, a band formed in the mid 1970’s who broke through in the new wave era at the end of that decade.  He generally wrote the music for Squeeze’s songs whilst the co-founder and writing partner, Chris Difford wrote the lyrics.

In 1982 Squeeze had disbanded and whilst Difford and Tilbrook continued to work together, they released an album in 1984 titled Difford and Tilbrook, but unfortunately the partnership struggled resulting in their break up in 1999.

Following this Tilbrook pursued his solo career, often touring in his RV and playing small venues.  At the time he released two solo albums, The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook and Transatlantic Ping Pong.

In 2006 a documentary of his 2001 tour across America; Glenn Tilbrook: One For The Road was released.

In January 2010 Tilbrook and Difford spent the summer in Italy together writing songs for a new Squeeze album.  The result was a four song CD of new demo recordings which emerged during their 2012 tour of America.  The duo toured the UK and America again in 2014-15 with a program they called The At Odds Couple.

When he is not touring with Squeeze, he tours with his band the Fluffers.  He tours internationally with keyboardist Stephen Large, drummer Simon Hanson and electric bassist Lucy Shaw.

A Charlton Athletic FC supporter he was honoured to sing the English national anthem before the start of the Euro 96 game at Wembley between England and Holland.

Whilst touring the UK with Squeeze, he took some time out to have a chat with Kevin Cooper and this is what he had to say.


Glenn, good morning, how are you?

I’m good thanks Kevin, how are you?

I’m very well thank you, and before we move on let me firstly thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.

As always, it’s a pleasure.

The last time that you and I spoke you were performing a solo gig at The Glee Club here in Nottingham and we spent a while in your mobile home discussing your taste in music (laughter).

(Laughter) that was you was it.  I remember it very well and it is always good to put a face to a name. 

And just how is life treating you?

I have to be totally honest with you and say that life at the moment is really good.  The only sad thing at the moment is that my mobile home is not with me; it’s currently being repaired as it is on its last legs really.  But, should I really be complaining about that, no ‘shut up Glenn and get a life’ (laughter).  The tour is going great, the band sounds fantastic, to me it just feels like we keep on getting better, better than we have ever been and I have to say that it is such a wonderful and strange place to currently be in.

You are some four days into the tour.  Just how does it feel to be back out on the road?

It feels just amazing, and I have to say that the proof of the pudding is the reaction that we are getting and I have to also say that I have never known anything like it.  In the past, we have always had a good reaction, but on this tour the reaction has been off the charts.

Do you still get a buzz out of touring, or has it now become a necessary evil?

No not at all, I absolutely love it.  Having said that, I don’t like the being away from home and the family aspect of it, but that is what I have done all my life.  So if I am not used to it now then I never will be.  A long time ago now I made peace with the fact that this is the sacrifice that you make in order to play music to people, which is the lifeblood of what I do.  It gives life to everything that we have done, so I really do enjoy it.

You are playing the Royal Concert Hall here in Nottingham on Friday 11th November, visiting our fair city once again.  Do you enjoy the time that you get to spend here in Nottingham?

I love my time in Nottingham.  Going right back to the late 70’s we have been playing in Nottingham and I have seen the city change, I have seen shops open and close, and I have seen the city centre change just as I have seen towns and cities change everywhere.  Nottingham is just a great place; it is a great place for us, and it is a great place to be.

And I have to ask, have you had any more close encounters with the tram system?

(Hysterical laughter) not since I played on the opening day of the tram system.  As you well know, I did a gig on the tram system on its opening and let me tell you, playing on a moving tram if you are trying to play and sing, then I have to say that it really was a challenge.  The bends can be quite sudden, especially if you are not looking in the right direction.  I did lurch over the tram at one point (laughter). 

I am assuming that you will be playing the new single, Food For Thought on the tour.  Will there be any other new material other than that?

No, Food For Thought is the only new song that we have done so far, but what it has done is to really spark off the desire that we really do need to write and record another record.  It is now five years since we made one.  I have got this idea that actually what we should do is to make two albums, because as you know, records are really difficult to get out there into the market place, and I have two reasons for making them, the first is that they actually feed our souls collectively, as a band, to create new stuff.  It points you in a forward direction, and it is nurturing to all of us.  That is the selfish reason.

The other reason is, Chris (Difford) and I can still write, but we haven’t written for quite some time with the exception of Food For Thought, and we have this wonderful platform, so for instance, the fact that we can do Food For Thought and create some small amount of good, and express a viewpoint, which is most definitely a political viewpoint, because the crisis with food banks is a politically driven decision.  So, I don’t want to point my finger in people’s faces, it’s not like that, I think that we have a position where we can speak to people about stuff, and this tour is a really good example of that, and we are able to poke our heads above the parapet and say, “we believe in change from where we are”.

I have to say that, in my opinion, the harmonies on Food For Thought are superb; they immediately take you back to the sound of Squeeze in the late 70’s early 80’s.

Yes, I would totally agree with you on that point.  Our current vocal line-up is really strengthened by Owen (Biddle) our current bass player who has been with us now for two years together with percussionist Steve (Smith).  They are both really talented singers, alongside myself and Chris together with the rest of the band, there really is a good cross section of people who are able to do that.  We haven’t often had that in Squeeze before, so it is a new string to our bow.

You have got good value for money on the tour as once again; you have got Dr Cooper Clarke with you.

(Laughter) this is the second tour that we have done with John, and I have recently read his book.  His autobiography is an absolutely fantastic book; in fact it is one of the best that I have read in the last few years.  On stage he is an absolute force of nature, he is so good, he is so wise and funny.  It is wonderful to have him along with us once again.

You have briefly mentioned The Trussell Trust as being part of the reasoning behind the single, the other being Help Musicians.  This is your fifth year being associated with them.  Have you seen any changes for the good?

Good is what both of these charities are busy doing.  I should point out that the profits going to The Trussell Trust together with independent food banks, and Help Musicians, is being split equally between those two organisations.  Both of them have charitable status, so they cannot ever be, and they are not political in anyway shape or form and I completely understand that.  I do not want to embarrass them in any way or suggest that we are working with them in expressing our opinions.  We are completely on our own.  They really do a wonderful job.  I personally find it appalling that so many people do not have a choice other than the help that food banks provide to feed their families.  It is criminal that there are so many people who have to choose between food and heating.  I find it totally abhorrent and disgusting.  It is simply a disgrace.

You have asked the fans who are attending the gigs to bring along tinned food to donate to the food banks.  How are they reacting to that?

The generosity that we have experienced so far has been totally amazing, just incredible.  People can donate cash via card readers so that their cash goes directly to The Trussell Trust.  They can also bring along food, toiletries, and anything that is non-perishable.  It really is humbling and it is the best of us really, and to see that is overwhelmingly good and the heart of whom I believe we are.

As a nation we are broken, aren’t we?

I think that as a nation the present government have a mean and almost sadistically selfish streak which I don’t believe really is what this country is.  But that is what we currently have, especially when you take a look at our figureheads.  I am just hopeful that this is the end of them for quite a while because they are simply destroying us.  The evidence for what this government has done to the country is all around us; it’s not all down to economic circumstances, it is a deliberate political decision that has been made that has left us in this mess.  I would love to hear anyone make a great case for Brexit nowadays.  What was it all for, a blue passport?  Was that what it was all about, I don’t know, I don’t understand.

How can it be good for the country when we have a multi-millionaire running it?  Could someone please explain that to me?

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t condemn anyone making money.  However, I do condemn the way that the taxation system works.  It simply is not fair.  Plus, I feel that we could do a lot more to address those issues, but I don’t think that this government is ever going to do that simply because their agenda is not slanted that way.

Whenever you listen to the current government speaking about food banks they seem to see it as a badge of honour and not a problem which needs addressing.

(Laughter) absolutely.  As a representative of this government, I say Matt Hancock (laughter).  If I were one of his constituents I would be very upset that my MP chooses to address the people via television (laughter).  I find it absolutely ridiculous and I am totally sick of them. 

Poor old Uncle Matt, he is in for a rough time in the jungle I think (laughter).

(Hysterical laughter) let us all hope so.

Going back to Squeeze, next year will be your fiftieth anniversary. 

Yes, that’s right; it will be our fiftieth anniversary.  Thanks for pointing that out (laughter).

Do you have anything special planned as yet?

As I mentioned earlier, I think that we are going to do two records.  I think that we are going to make two Squeeze albums.  One will be a set of songs that I wrote fifty years ago, which we never recorded because at that point we were just writing a stupid amount of songs, and whatever the last ones were, the last ones that you wrote were the ones that you liked best.  But there is a lot to be said for that I have to say.  I feel that we disregarded some really great songs, so I want to make one album of fifty-year-old songs and one album of new songs.  And I think that is a pretty good thing to hang your hat on.  Fifty years is a long time for any partnership to endure, and let me tell you we have certainly had our ups and downs along the way.  But here we are, still doing it, and still able to work together which I am really grateful for.

Is there any chance of a reunion of the original five Squeeze members?

Well, we have got Squeeze now; the Squeeze of old is what it is.  I think that I view the band as me and Chris, and the people that we have around us now, that is Squeeze.  I don’t want to go back, in fact I wouldn’t go back to any other line-up, I love this one.

I see that you are touring with King King in the New Year.  Don’t you ever stop?

Yes, I am because as you know, I like to keep my hand in (laughter).  I flit around doing all manner of different things.  Before we started this tour I had a five week slot where I was playing solo shows and all that stuff feeds what I do, whether that be playing clubs, playing larger concert halls, or playing arenas.  I feel so lucky that I am able to do all of those things, and they all enrich, and I can entertain people in that way.  I am so lucky that I can do that.

Glenn, on that note let me once again thank you for taking the time to speak to me today.  You take care and I will see you up here in Nottingham.

Thank you so much Kevin.  It’s been a pleasure as usual.  You take care and we will speak again later.