This October, the British band Squeeze is coming to Eugene on a 50-year anniversary tour — meaning the band has existed twice as long as I’ve been alive. Squeeze will perform with openers the Psychedelic Furs at the Hult Center.
I had the chance to chat with Chris Difford, one of the founding members as well as a singer and guitarist for the group. The first thing I asked him was how it felt to be celebrating 50 years with the band.
“When you’re young and you join a band, you can’t imagine that that would ever be the case. You think you’re probably going to die by the time you’re 26 because that’s what everybody else did in those days,” he says. “We’re kind of scratching our heads really saying, well, 50 years? That’s quite something.”
Squeeze’s sound has been described as new wave and post-pop. Some of their most popular songs include the soulful “Tempted,” the boppy before bops were a thing “Pulling Mussels (From The Shell)” and the remorseful “Black Coffee In Bed.”
Squeeze was formed in 1974 in Deptford, London. In 50 years, they’ve broken up twice; once in 1982, reforming three years later, and then again in 1999 before reuniting in 2007. Difford and Glenn Tilbrook, the other singer and songwriter of the group, have been through all three iterations of the band.
I ask Difford what it’s been like being a part of the music industry for so long.
“There is no music industry for us anymore, because it’s changed so much. When we first signed to a record label, they gave us the space to get things wrong and to get things right. These days, we wouldn’t get a record deal. And we certainly wouldn’t be given the opportunity to get things right or wrong,” he says. Difford adds that while it’s hard to find the finances to support making new records, it’s also nice to have the freedom to tailor songs the way he and the group want them, without the pressure of record companies influencing the music.
As someone who went into journalism to avoid a monotonous work day, I was curious to see what Difford’s experience was, performing the same hit songs for decades.
“I’ve learned to see it like you’re in the theater. You’re reading Shakespeare every night, you’re doing the same lines. But you’ve got to be able to deliver as hard as you can with the quality and ambition that you had as a 17-year-old, and that’s difficult to muster up,” he tells me. “But it’s important to know that I suppose that it’s OK to make mistakes along the way and not have to be surrounded by perfection.”
Difford says he’s excited to be back on the road after not touring during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says it was “a really beautiful journey” when they first did a tour after the pandemic, and that meeting people who were excited about live music again was extraordinary.
“People that ran the theaters were lovely to hang out with. They were so appreciative. So you know, to go back into those arenas now with a completely different head on is something that is going to be very rewarding,” Difford says.