Squeeze lyricist Chris Difford on their first new album in 15 years, his collaboration with Andrew Morrison for Opus Fine Art and the Fringe Festival, Edinburgh
Double Ivor Novello award winning lyricist Chris Difford is best known as one half of New Wave outfit Squeeze. Chris talks to Betty Wood about how his lyrics are being given a new lease of life through an inventive collaboration with designer Andrew Morrison, and how nearly 40 years on, Squeeze are still going from strength to strength ahead of their first new album for 15 years.
Betty Wood: You’ve just returned from a major tour of the States, during which you demoed a couple of new tracks — Honey Trap and Top Form. How’s the new album coming along?
Chris Difford: It was really fun playing live, and the audiences seemed to be excited by them, so that was really good news.
We won’t start recording them until October, but now we’re got them under our belts we can go into the studio and record them pretty quickly.
was mostly spent with The B52s, which was good fun. We toured all over the country: it’s always really great to go back there every couple of years and just remind yourself what it’s like to be there, and how much work have put in over the years. I think it was pretty successful.
Betty: Have you noticed a significant change in your working dynamic with Glenn now you’re recording new material? How has your relationship changed?
Chris: big dynamic shift, in so far as we’re very different people now in comparison to who we were when we first met 40 years ago – it’s obvious to say that. And we just have to be very aware of each other’s needs and our own space. So really, what we’ve been learning about recently is how to have independence in our lives.
We haven’t written anything together for 15 years, so this is a very new path for us. We’re both participating in the music and the lyrics — it’s very different from where we used to tread.
Betty: Speaking of ‘independence’ and projects outside of music, you’ve recently collaborated with designer Andrew Morrison, producing a series of six screen prints released through Opus featuring your lyrics. What sort of input did you have into the project, besides the obvious?
Chris: I gave Andrew the lyrics, or the title , and let him have free reign over the aesthetic presentation of it. He’s the artist; I’m the lyricist. It was a clear definition. Every time he sent me something, I said “my god, this is amazing”: there was no real need for me to rebel against any of the artwork he put in front of me, it was all really great.
Betty: What about the lyrics — why did you choose those lines specifically?
Chris: I chose them by observing all of the tweets that were going on about my lyrics; people were choosing their favourite lines and titles. I just took the ones that were getting the most love, if you like.
Betty: Do you have a personal favourite?
Chris: I suppose, Laundry on the Hill. That’s a really good screen print; it displays a tea towel which has ‘laundry on the hill’ written on it, from the song Tempted. That’s one of my favourite and most successful Squeeze songs, so for me it’s the one that sticks out the most.
Betty: Aside from your collaboration with Andrew, and working with Glenn on the [/one_third]new Squeeze album, you’re also off to Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival soon where you’re performing with Norman Lovett. What can we expect?
Chris: It’s a one-hour show telling the story of Squeeze, and Norman and I are on stage together — actually, it’s a really entertaining show. We had a dummy run through it a few nights ago, and it was really great fun — it’s a night I really love doing.
Betty: What else is on the horizon for you professionally?
Chris: I’ll only be working for an hour a day when I’m in Edinburgh performing, so it gives me a lot of time to sit around and write. Half the day, I’m going to be working on my next solo album, which will come out in the middle of next year. And of course, the next Squeeze album, which I imagine will come out around April.
There’s also going to be time for lots of different people too — I’m currently writing for Jools Holland and Paul Carrack, for Glenn and myself, and for other artists.
It’s going to be a busy month, but a very creative one, and I’m really looking forward to being able to concentrate on what I do best, which is writing lyrics, I hope.
For more information on Chris’ artwork, please visit Opus-Art.com
Chris Difford is Port’s music editor, and founding member of British New Wave band Squeeze. He is a two-time winner of the prestigious Ivor Novello Award