[1 September 2008]
No, Glenn Tilbrook says, he was never tempted.
“There were a lot of offers for us to get back together,” the Squeeze singer says, calling from his London home. “The money was tempting. But we didn’t do it because we felt we were honoring the memory of the band. (Co-founder and songwriting partner Chris Difford) and I didn’t talk for a few years and I thought it would feel fraudulent to reform if we weren’t really a proper band just to grab some cash.”
So that’s how it stood, as recently as 2006, with Squeeze staying broken up after arguments in the aftermath of the 1998 “Domino” album with both Difford and Tilbrook going off to establish successful solo careers on their own. But last year, things changed.
“Chris and I became friends again, and the idea of the band sounded great,” Tilbrook says. “We decided to do it with nothing else planned, in case, for some reason, it didn’t work and we all wanted to go our separate ways. We toured in the U.S. last summer and in England in November, and it was great. The band felt really fresh. We all got on. We really enjoyed it and wanted to carry on.”
Tilbrook says that after the current tour, Squeeze’s members will go off separately for a bit to promote their solo work. Difford’s solo album, “The Last Temptation of Chris,” arrived in April. Tilbrook’s new band, Glenn Tilbrook and the Fluffers, has completed its latest album, set for release later this year. Band members are hoping to work on a new Squeeze album together next year.
“We’ve just started writing,” Tilbrook says. “But we’re planning to do a new record. It all sprung about because it feels right. It feels good again.”
But don’t look for any new songs on the current tour or any solo material, either. “This tour is about respecting what we’ve done and doing it properly,” Tilbrook says.
That means going back to the original arrangements of the band’s string of new-wave favorites - from their American breakthroughs “Black Coffee in Bed” and “Tempted” to such classics as “Another Nail in My Heart” and “Goodbye Girl.”
“When we got back together, we got a chance to do something we never did before, because it was just like starting again,” Tilbrook says. “We said, ‘OK, let’s go back and listen to the records and see how we did it and let’s do that. Let’s not do Police jazzy arrangements of our songs. Let’s do our songs the way that we did them.’ I get really irritated when people do horrible arrangements of their own songs. I understand why people do it and I’ve done it myself and will probably do it again, but sometimes you just want to hear the songs the way you know it.
“What happens when you’ve been in a band for years - and this has certainly happened to Squeeze, God knows how many members there have actually been - every song you do gradually changes,” he continues. “It’s like the stop-frame thing of a plant growing. You can’t see it, but there on film you can see how it does, how it twists and turns and branches out.”
Returning to the band’s roots yielded surprising results for the group.
“We’re doing ‘Goodbye Girl’ in the way we recorded it,” Tilbrook says. “We never did that before because drum machines weren’t so reliable in those days and Moogs would sort of change key, so we did sort of a rock and roll version of the thing. Now we’re doing it and it sounds great. The surprising thing to me is that some of the earlier stuff we do now sounds more contemporary than some of the later stuff.”
With Squeeze’s influence seen in so many of the new new-wave bands around - from the Black Kids to Motion City Soundtrack - that seems perfectly understandable. And, of course, “Black Coffee in Bed” and “Tempted” are still heard daily on countless ‘80s flashback lunches and in karaoke bars throughout the country.
Though Tilbrook has spent the past decade since Squeeze’s split touring relentlessly in America as a solo act - which was partially chronicled in the recent documentary “Glenn Tilbrook: One for the Road, The Story of One Man, Two Guitars and an RV” - the reaction he receives from Squeeze fans after the reunion is completely different.
“It’s weird,” he says. “It’s like people love us more than they ever did. It’s like getting to see what it’s like if you died. And then it’s ‘No, I’m not dead really. Here we are back again.’ It’s really a lovely feeling for us.”