Glenn is King Of The Road! (Sydney Morning Herald)
Once a rock star, Glenn Tilbrook is now king of the road
(but not the middle).
GT talks to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The high life of a rock'n'roller, we know it well: the glamour of first-class travel and accommodation, the firm young things at your fingertips, the primping and preening of dozens of minions before your every public appearance.
And when you've been playing music publicly for 34 years, when you've had Top 10 hits on three continents, when your former, long-time songwriting partnership was described as the best Britain had produced since Lennon and McCartney, well that's the life you'd be living wouldn't it, Glenn Tilbrook?
Not exactly, no. These days Tilbrook, for two decades one half of the partnership, with lyricist Chris Difford, behind pop gems for the band Squeeze ( Tempted, Up The Junction, Pulling Mussels, Cool For Cats) prefers to do his touring in what could kindly be called a mobile home, or less kindly a glorified caravan.
He does it regularly around the United States and Europe and this month the Londoner is driving up and down the east coast of Australia with partner and children, stopping occasionally to play a show or two. Sheesh, where's the glamour in that?
"I've had the make-up person, I've had the wardrobe person and all that stuff. On one level that's great but the basic way of touring is very down-to-earth and it reconnects me to why I first started playing music," Tilbrook says. "Once Squeeze turned professional and started being successful, I lost touch with that. In the early '90s, when Chris and I were still together, I started doing gigs by myself and I re-found that other thing and now it's my solo career. It has taken over and I don't mind. I'm 49 and I'm enjoying it."
This way of life is also a straightforward way of accepting your place in the world when you're no longer this month's hot act but you have an audience and you want to play. Nonetheless, the unpretentious nature of the touring reflects the way Tilbrook performs. His relaxed, story-filled and often hilarious shows not only have familiar song after familiar song, they also embrace the audience in the kind of bonhomie which transforms venues into Tilbrook's living room.
"You can't change that; that's the way I am and I feel lucky for it," he says. "I definitely think some of the people who could be in my position, who were more successful in the past, could do what I do but they feel a certain amount of professional pride. I don't think that way."
All this makes more sense, too, when you realise that even at the height of Squeeze's fame - and when they were big they were selling out arenas across the US - the flash suits and fancy hairdos were never really Tilbrook's style.