Renowned singer-songwriter Chris Difford heads out on the Acoustic Book tour where he'll be sharing stories from his life, as well as some of his much-loved songs.
Best known, along with Glenn Tilbrook, as one half of the songwriting pair behind the new wave pop act, Squeeze, he penned hits including Up The Junction, Cool For Cats and Tempted.
But with Squeeze splitting up in 1999, he has also carved himself a respectable solo career since the turn of the century. And with Squeeze returning to action a few years ago, he now juggles the two.
Last year he released his autobiography, Some Fantastic Place: My Life In and Out of Squeeze, which is the basis for the current tour.
Chris explains how the book came about: 'It was being bored on the tour bus some years ago now, travelling across America, wondering what to do with myself, and my then-manager said: "Well, why don’t you write about your life and see where it goes?"
'I started out just fiddling about and reminiscing, and writing down ideas for chapters. Eventually the book fell into place – when I found an agent and a publisher they really honed how it should be, and I’m really grateful to them.'
And Chris didn't find it hard to turn the lens on his own life.
'I think I’ve got a bit of a clue as to what’s going on,' he deadpans. 'It was easy enough, really.
'I really enjoyed the process. It’s about finding the time and the space to adapt yourself into that mood. You’ve got to get into that head-space, which isn’t always easily found.
'When you get into that place, then a rhythm forms and then you just can’t stop yourself, it just keeps coming.'
And he is joined on the tour by his friend and fellow singer-songwriter Boo Hewerdine.
'He’ll be on the stage with me and singing songs we’ve written together, and there’ll be stories from the book, and he’ll be interviewing me a bit, and singing some of his own songs too, which is really important, so it will be good. He’s got a fantastic back catalogue.'
Although he admits, he can't remember how the two of them met.
'I actually don’t know – somebody asked me that the other day – but sometimes people come into your life, and you’re not aware that they’re there and suddenly they’re very much part of your life.
'We’ve been writing together for many years now, he’s a very easy person to work with, it’s certainly not a challenge.'
Squeeze reformed in 2007, but it wasn't until 2015 that they released an album of original material, Cradle To The Grave, which began life as the soundtrack for the TV drama based on writer and broadcaster Danny Baker's life.
'Danny approached us to make a Squeeze album loosely based around the scripts he’d provided us for the TV show and we merrily went on our way, writing all these songs to reflect that, but he only ended up using a couple of them.
'But we got a record out of it and it made us focus on our songwriting. And more importantly it brought the public focus back around to Squeeze and gave us more of a foundation to be who we are.'
The album also gave them their highest ever chart placing, at number 12. But as Chris explains, these things are relative.
'Compared to let’s say 1979, it’s small fry. To get a record on the top 10 now you only need to sell 10,000, but back then you would have been up at around 250,000. Cool For Cats was selling 36,000 copies a day. Times do change, and people’s attention spans change and music isn’t as important to people as it once was, people don’t go out and foster music in the way they once did, I think.'
After this tour, Chris is off to America, and there are dates with Squeeze in the summer, including a headline spot at Wickham Festival on Saturday, August 4. How does he fit it all in?
'It’s quite a jigsaw sometimes. It’s different but not difficult to jump from one stage to the other, it suits me to do that, and I enjoy playing my songs with different people. It works for me.'
Emsworth Baptist Church
Saturday, April 21