Musician Glen Hansard on Love, Music and Playing with BonoSeptember 20th, 2017
Academy Award winning singer-songwriter Glen Hansard sits down at The Hideout with Fear No ART host, Elysabeth Alfano, and opens up about his early days as a street musician, his experience with Marketa Irglova on the film, Once, connecting with an audience and the creative process of songwriting.
Hansard quit school at age 13 to begin busking on local Dublin streets. He formed The Frames in 1990, and they’ve been staples of the Irish music scene ever since. Their first album, Another Love Song, was released on Island Records in 1991, and their most recent, The Cost, was released in 2006.
Hansard came to international attention as guitar player Outspan Foster in the 1991 Alan Parker film The Commitments, after attending the New York Film Academy School of Acting. He has often stated that he regretted taking the role, because he felt it distracted him from his music career. In 2003, he presented the television programme Other Voices: Songs from a Room, which showcased Irish music talent on RTÉ.
On 22 April 2006, he released his first album without The Frames, The Swell Season, on Overcoat Recordings in collaboration with Czech singer and multi-instrumentalist Markéta Irglová, Marja Tuhkanen from Finland on violin and viola, and Bertrand Galen from France on cello. Hansard also spent part of 2006 in front of the cameras for a music-infused Irish film Once, in which Hansard plays a Dublin busker, and Irglová an immigrant street vendor. The film had its American premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in 2007 and received the Festival’s World Cinema Audience Award. During the promotional tour, he and Irglová began dating. Said Hansard about his relationship with Irglova: “I had been falling in love with her for a long time, but I kept telling myself she’s just a kid”. One of the songs they wrote (“Falling Slowly”) won an Oscar for Best Song in February 2008. Hansard became the first Irish-born person to win in that category. He was accompanied by his mother, Catherine Hansard.
Hansard and Irglová recorded a version of Bob Dylan’s “You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” for the film I’m Not There in 2007. In 2009, Hansard said that he and Irglova were no longer romantically linked, and that they are now “good friends”. Aside from his projects with The Frames and Irglová, Hansard also took part as a member of the band on the 2006 Oxfam charity album, The Cake Sale.
Hansard has recorded several cover songs, both alone and with band member Colm Mac Con Iomaire, for the Today FM discs Even Better than the Real Thing. Songs that he has recorded include Justin Timberlake’s “Cry Me a River” on Even Better than the Real Thing Vol. 1 and Britney Spears’ “Everytime” on Vol. 2.
He voiced a role on an episode (“In the Name of the Grandfather”) on The Simpsons as an Irish busker. A new album of original songs recorded as The Swell Season with Markéta Irglová and entitled Strict Joy was released on October 27, 2009 on the ANTI- record label.
On 14 August 2009, Hansard sang “Amazing Grace” at the funeral of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. In December 2009, he was joined by Bono, Damien Rice and other Irish musicians on Grafton Street in Dublin, to busk in aid of the Simon Community. In January 2010, Glen and fellow musician Mark Geary auctioned off a house concert on eBay in aid of Haitian relief after the catastrophic earthquake left the country in dire need of assistance. The pair would travel anywhere within a 2 hour drive of Dublin and play a private gig in the highest bidder’s house. In the end the two musicians played for the highest bidder and a selection of other fans in a central Dublin cafe. The auction raised in the region of €6,000 (six thousand euro) for charity.
In the summer of 2011, he joined Eddie Vedder on his American solo tour in support of Vedder’s solo album, Ukulele Songs. He also played his own solo concert at the opening of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art Guitar Heroes exhibit in May and on Cape Cod at the Cape Cinema on 17 June. On 3–4 September 2011, he played at Pearl Jam’s 20th Anniversary Festival PJ20 at the Alpine Valley Theatre outside of East Troy, Wisconsin.
Hansard plays several guitars, amongst which a very recognizable battered Takamine NP15 acoustic guitar (even sporting a large hole), which he calls “The Horse”.
In a recent interview[when?] in the Huffington Post with Irglova, it was revealed that Hansard was preparing a solo album and that there was a very possible third release from the Swell Season. This solo album was later revealed to be titled Rhythm and Repose.
American Songwriter included Hansard’s “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting” on its The Muse July Sampler.
Hansard sang the song “Take the Heartland” on the soundtrack for the 2012 film The Hunger Games. Another song he wrote, “Come Away to the Water”, is also featured on the soundtrack, but is covered by Maroon 5 and Rozzi Crane. Hansard can be found singing “Come Away to the Water” on the deluxe edition of his first solo album Rhythm and Repose.