Q&A December 2012, Part I
1/13/2013 (updated 1/14/2013)

1. Can you tell us or find out, for us not them ;), which gig each song from Two Letter Words was recorded at? There are around 10 or 11 dates between April 16 and May 1 on the Mirror Blue 1994 tour with very similar setlists.

I don't think that information is retrievable at this point - sorry.

2. In speaking of Two Letter Words and other 'download only' files from "The ConneXtion", have you considered offering lossless flac for your digital downloads rather than the 320k eMPty3s. thanks, cheers, and happy trails, eric: winnipeg

We are looking into it, yes. I hope this will replace mp3 as an industry standard.

I saw Squeeze in Sheffield on Sunday night. As well as a talented songwriter, I'd never realised what an amazing guitarist Glen Tilbrook is. We know you admire the songs of Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook - any chance of you two ever riffing together? Yours, John Gessler

I'm a big Squeeze fan, including, of course, Glen's guitar playing. We've never had an opportunity to play together. Who knows - stranger things have happened. Squeeze's Greatest Hits is never far from my CD player.

Presumably, you started out playing guitar in standard tuning like all of us. What was the first altered tuning you tried, and when? What was the experience liberating?

When I studied classical guitar for a year at age 12, I learned 'La Paloma' in drop D. I never used it much again till Fairport, so at that point liberating might be putting it too strongly. Alternative tunings became useful in playing traditional music, especially solo acoustic.

With "Electric" coming out in February and the first half of 2013 devoted to touring in support of the new record, do you foresee bringing CoS to New York at some point in 2013 or 2014? I could picture it being performed at a venue like Alice Tully Hall or Carnegie Hall. I could also imagine you enlisting the support of Juilliard or one of the other NYC music schools in the way you involved Idyllwild Academy on the West Coast.

Our ambition is to do COS in the New York area, preferably a run somewhere off Broadway. This is a costly show, so our dreams are tempered by reality, and the generosity of others. There is no timetable yet.

Cabaret of Souls

You've said that new songs need "playing in" before they're ready to trot out to the public. How do you determine when a song has evolved sufficiently, instrumentally and vocally, to record?

When it seems to be ready to you, the writer and performer, and I am sometimes wrong. You tinker until you can't think of anything else, and if  you're pleased with it, there's a certain impatience to share it. As you play a new piece for an audience, you suddenly hear it through their ears, and you can realize the shortcomings sometimes after a few bars - you don't have to wait for the applause (or lack thereof).

You've said in Beesweb that you've always been a big fan of British humor such as Monty Python, the Goons, Fry and Laurie, etc. I'm curious to know what sort of American humor makes you laugh? Feel free to name comedians, TV and movie comedies, theatre. Whatever comes to mind.

I loved the Marx Brothers growing up, and Bob Hope films. I like some of the Woody Allen things. Jackie Mason and George Carlin are probably my favourite stand-ups. Carlin might be my favourite atheist. I like some of those dumb Griswold films. In my tiny mind, the Brits still win out for a certain surreal inventiveness.