Chris Difford is a rare breed. As a member of one of London’s best-loved bands, the Squeeze co-founder has made a lasting contribution to music with hits such as ‘Cool For Cats’, ‘Up The Junction’, ‘Labelled With Love’, ‘Hourglass’ and ‘Tempted’. Despite the fact that Chris has helped soundtrack so many fans’ lives since his first release in 1977, the passion for innovation and love of playing still drives him to carry on writing rather than sit back and admire his handiwork. Chris recently celebrated his 60th birthday and for 41 of those years he has been writing with Glenn Tilbrook, very much the Odd Couple. When Squeeze take a break from the road, Glenn and Chris have been touring their ‘At Odds Couple Tour’ both in the UK and the US.
Chris and Glenn wrote a new Squeeze album based on the life of Danny Baker, it was the soundtrack for a BBC2 production called ‘Cradle To Grave’ staring Peter Kay. All original music, it became the first Squeeze record in 15 years. ‘From The Cradle To The Grave’ was a very exciting project for all concerned and it was so good to be back in the charts and on the radio again.
Over the course of a 13 album career with Squeeze, it was clear from the very beginning that Chris Difford has few peers when it comes to smart, pithy lyricism. His ‘kitchen sink-drama’ style has drawn plaudits from fans on both sides of the Atlantic, while his influence is keenly felt today. The likes of Lily Allen and Mark Ronson, Kasabian, Razorlight and The Feeling have all recognised the debt they owe to Squeeze’s music and to Difford’s way with words, while journalists were moved by his winning combination with Glenn Tilbrook to dub the pair ‘The New Lennon and McCartney’.
Chris first learned to stand on his own when he wrote the lyrics for the fictional band Strange Fruit in the 1998 British comedy film ‘Still Crazy’, for which he won his first Ivor Novello award. Since then he has written and contributed lyrics for the likes of Elton John, Wet Wet Wet, Jools Holland, Paul Carrack, Lisa Stansfield and Bryan Ferry.
Chris has curated ‘Songs In The Key Of London’ event at the Barbican, bringing together musicians old and new such as Glenn Tilbrook, Suggs, Jools Holland, Blaine Harrison (Mystery Jets) and James Hunter, as well as students from the local community. A second event took place in Greenwich Park in 2011 with Gary Kemp, Chris Wood, UB40 and others. In 2014 ‘Songs In The Key Of London’ took place in Regents park with Gregory Porter, The Strypes, Guy Barker Ed Harcourt and Sophie Ellis Baxter. A new ‘Songs In The Key Of London’ event is being planned for 2018.
Chris hosts songwriter workshops and has done so for over 25 years. In 2014 he formed a partnership with ‘The Buddy Holly Foundation’ to run a week of writing at Pennard House Glastonbury. Other writing events include Guardian Master Classes held in London and smaller events at The Rathfinney Wine Estate in East Sussex.
‘Chris To The Mill’ a box set of his 3 studio albums came out in March 2017. His forth studio album follows sometime in the summer, written with Boo Hewerdine it’s called ‘Not Only But Also’ and is a collection of songs written in their spare time over the last three years. It’s coming out on Boo’s own label.
As if that is not enough, Chris had a book released by Orion Books, an autobiography called ‘Some Fantastic Place’.
Special Guest – Boo Hewerdine
As a recording artist, Boo’s first tentative steps came with the band, The Great Divide before the formation of the critically acclaimed group “The Bible” and a career that subsequently bloomed such that he is now in constant demand as a musician, songwriter, producer, teacher and of course performer.
Boo Hewerdine’s new album “Swimming in Mercury” (Reveal Records April 28th 2017) gives us a personal insight as he takes us on that journey back in time. It’s a trip furnished with a glisten and a glint in his eye as he applies style and shapes to his autobiographical memories. He revisits and recreates music in a manner that, put simply, a band starting out just couldn’t afford. In his own words “The album was recorded in the spirit of the first four track recording I ever did… but instead of a chunky cassette deck we were able to use Chris Pepper’s studio. It was an incredibly enjoyable and creative way to work. Often I would write a song in the morning and by the end of the day we would have another track done”.
In truth, there’s a compelling sense of adventure in tracks such as “My First Band”, “Satellite Town” and “A Letter To My Younger Self”.
Wearing his producers hat, Boo is renowned for his ideas and innovation, for new ways of recording and bringing projects to completion. To be successful, to add value, you need to stand out as a minimum but really there is a need to lead, “to be ahead of the pack”.
Certainly, Hewerdine’s latest project “Mobile”, for Devon based artist Peter James Millson, does just that, a complete album recorded directly to a Windows phone. A unique concept which captures in the music in a live and intimate setting, produced by Boo and mastered by Chris Pepper it stands out as a modern-day field recording.
Other standout projects include the new release for Findlay Napier based on life stories of real Glasgow folk and recorded completely live (VIP, Findlay’s previous release also produced by Boo received rave reviews). The exceptional Nick Kelly’s “Gestation” which was accumulated as the best of nine separate shows in Dublin where Nick played the same songs but with different collaborators from string quartets to rock bands. And the longer term musical extravaganza “Fancy Pants” with Chris Difford from Squeeze. In Boo Hewerdine you have a man not short of ideas or of taking risk.
All through Boo’s career of performing, of writing material taken on by the likes by K.d. Lang , Paul Young, Kris Drever and Eddi Reader (the song Patience In Angels won an Ivor Novello nomination), it is perhaps back to his childhood that gives us a clue as to his motivation.
Boo Hewerdine, a unique talent.