Glenn Tilbrook, the lead singer and guitarist for the popular 1970s British band Squeeze, will perform at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. in Peconic Friday, Aug. 4 as part of the brewery’s Summer Under the Stars concert series.
The outdoor show, which starts at 9 p.m., will feature popular songs from the band, which rode a (new) wave of success from the mid-70s in the 1980s with hits like “Pulling Mussels (from the Shell),” “Tempted,” “Another Nail in my Heart” and “Black Coffee in Bed.”
Doors open at 8 p.m. and tickets are $30 online or $35 at the door. The brewery is asking guests to bring a blanket for the show, they’ve “got the beer.”
Journalist Richard Panchyk interviewed Tilbrook for northforker in 2014 before a show at The Suffolk Theater. Here’s an excerpt from that chat:
Q: It’s really been a busy year for you, with a new solo album and a lot of concert dates. The touring life, I imagine, is not very easy. What keeps you going back to the road again and again after 35 years?
A: I love playing. I don’t love being away from home, but once I’m on tour, I love traveling. Touring is a way of keeping in contact with people. Letting people know what I’m doing, and sharing that stuff. It’s important to me.
Q: After writing so many plugged-in songs over the years, how much of a challenge was putting down the electric guitar and writing a completely acoustic album?
A: Well, I’ve never done that before, so it was a challenge. But it was more a question of adjusting my mindset to wanting to do everything acoustically, and then I found that, weirdly enough, that refocused me on the songs even more than before. And it became a really beautiful way to make things as simple as possible.
Q: Tell me about some of your instrument choices on ‘Happy Ending’ and how you came to make them.
A: It was more a question of what I didn’t want. I didn’t want there to be any drums, you know, like a drum kit. I didn’t want there to be electric guitar, cause they’re the two things that have always been on my records. So making that choice, then I wanted to try and restrict myself to a few sounds. I like the sound of an Indian harmonium, an acoustic guitar, an acoustic bass. I allowed iPad sounds, because that’s an interesting restriction in itself. It lets you open the door to electronics but be restricted by the fact that everything has to be in that little container, so I did that, too. And I had sitar … a couple of lutes, but really, mostly Chinese drums and some Middle Eastern percussion.
Q: I especially like your use of strings on several of the tracks.
A: I’m really proud of the strings. I worked with Lucy Shaw from the Fluffers on the string arrangements and she brought such a lot of vitality to the table, and it was great having the string players. I have meticulously created string parts on keyboards before, but I love the push and pull of people actually playing it.
Q: Your kids helped out on ‘Happy Ending.’ Was that their idea or yours?
A: Well, Louie, my second eldest boy, was around, so he played bongos on “Persephone,” I think. And then Leon, he’s 11 now; he was 10 when we co-wrote “Bongo Bill” together and he loves playing. And a lot of my kids love playing. And within the family environment that’s something that we gravitate toward, so for me it feels natural to include them.
Q: Seven of the 12 tracks on ‘Happy Ending’ feature people’s names in their titles, songs about interesting characters and their back stories. Was this planned or did it just evolve?
A: I was going to do a whole album like that, but then I found a couple of other things I wanted to write about, so I thought, you know what, I’ll just sprinkle the songs throughout the record and, you know, they all stand up together. And I thought that the other songs that I wrote were just other observations of situations. They’re all character-driven and the biggest influence on them is Chris Difford.
Q: Your songwriting relationship with Chris is very similar to that of Elton John and Bernie Taupin; you take the lyrics and run with them. When you read a Difford lyric for the first time, does a melody jump out at you or is it a very experimental process?
A: That’s the thing about writing is I never know how it works. You know, every time I say I know how it works, I find it works a different way. So it’s been everything from it jumps straight out at me to it takes weeks of work, and I never know which one it’s going to be, and I never know what the process will be. I just know if we stick at it, we always get there.
Q: How does Chris’ vocal role on a Squeeze track evolve?
A: Well you know, it’s interesting, cause we’re working on this at the moment. And the way we’re doing this internally with the new songs, I’m demoing them on either piano or guitar and voice, and then Chris is taking them home, we play through them, but then Chris learns the vocal and we sing it together. [On] the Squeeze record, which we’re going to cut between January and March next year, we’re going to do as much singing as possible together. We really want to get back to that sound. We’ve been through a lot of twists and turns and when we reformed Squeeze, it’s just undeniable, the sound of me and Chris together. It’s unique and so why not sing like that — why not?
Q: As a solo artist, how do you approach the songwriting process? Is it lyrics first, music first or kind of both together?
A: It’s almost always lyrics first, because I inherited that way of writing from writing with Chris. If I’m doing a song by myself it will be very occasionally music and lyrics together, but it’s almost always I write lyrics first. On “Happy Ending” I did all the lyrics. I can’t remember how many I wrote by myself — about half the tunes, I guess.