Glenn Tilbrook just released Happy Ending, his first solo album in five years. After the first break-up of his British new wave group Squeeze, Tilbrook joined up with his band mate Chris Difford to release Difford and Tilbrook in 1984. The two have been collaborating ever since. He spoke to us about writing with Difford, the first song he ever wrote and more.
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How would you describe Happy Ending?
Lyrically sound and tunefully adventurous.
How would you compare it to your last album?
I think I’m getting better as I get older. Some of the songs I’ve written in the last ten years are my favorite and the best I’ve ever done, I think.
You co-write songs on this album with Chris Braide, who’s worked with Beyonce and Lana Del Ray. What does he bring to the table? Does he push you in a more pop, radio friendly directions?
Chris is a brilliantly talented tune writer, I’ve known him since he was 16. He’s the person I’ve worked the most with outside of Difford. It’s always a real joy to get a tune back from him. I just really enjoy working with him.
What’s the story behind the song “Bongo Bill?”
It’s about an ineffective lay about, and me and Leon (my ten-year-old son) wrote it when we were on holiday.
How did you learn how to play guitar?
I’m self-taught. I started playing at the age of seven. Someone showed me how to tune the guitar and the rest I just picked up.
Who are your songwriting heroes?
Ivor Cutler, Chris Difford, Lennon and McCartney.
What was the first you ever wrote? Tell us about it.
Song called “Knight Ride” on Squeeze’s first EP. I wrote it when I was 11.
What’s the last song you wrote or started?
I started one yesterday, it’s just a tune at the moment.
What’s the best song you ever wrote?
I’m very fond of “Still.”
How do you go about writing songs?
I put in a lot of time, and by listening to music and being a fan of music really helps me.
What is your approach to writing lyrics?
To imagine what Chris Difford would do.
What’s a song on Happy Ending you’re particularly proud of and why?
“Everybody Sometimes” because it’s a fantastic Chris Braide tune and the lyrics are about a subject I feel very strongly about. That people in large offices, corporations or banking are not held accountable for their actions.
What’s a lyric or verse from the album you’re a fan of?
“Nurturing his herd of scapegoats, howling like a wounded teen. He’s becoming a footnote in his own dream.”
Are there any words you love or hate?
I love “minge.”
What’s a song of yours that has really touched people?
“Still,” so some people tell me.
Do you ever do any other kinds of writing?
If you could co-wrote with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?
Who do you consider an underrated songwriter?
What do you consider to be the perfect song, and why?
“Common People” by Pulp because it’s funny and truthful.