"I've always had a schoolboy sense of humor. I could never grow out of it," says the London-born tunesmith.
Six years ago, Tilbrook embarked on Squeeze's final excursion through the U.S. without longtime songwriting partner Chris Difford, who retired from the road on the night before the tour began. Three years later, Tilbrook released his debut solo album and appeared in Stateside clubs for the first time without his bandmates, revealing himself, in the process, as a rather whimsical fellow. One evening he led his audience like a veritable Pied Piper -- out the front door of Virginia's IOTA, around the corner, and into the rear parking lot for a sing-along encore. Bringing along a band for this trip, in support of his second solo effort, Transatlantic Ping Pong, of course, makes such high jinks a lot less likely.
"Not necessarily," says Tilbrook.
Though the tour has barely begun, the young-at-heart 46-year-old is having fun already. And if Transatlantic song titles like "Genitalia of a Fool" and "Hot Shaved Asian Teens" aren't strong enough signals that Tilbrook's willing to stretch, consider the name of his backing band.
"I think the band being called the Fluffers is so me, because it makes me laugh," he says. "Just the idea of them being called the Fluffers, in a very adolescent way, reduces me to fits of hysteria."
And so it does. Somewhere south of Boston, one-half of Britain's most-acclaimed songwriting duo since John and Paul stands by a rental car, cell phone in hand. The faint smell of petrol drifts over from nearby pumps. And he is thoroughly amused.