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GLEN HANSARD/ “Rhythm and Repose”: the gypsy heart of the hero of “Once”

Singer and songwriter GLEN HANSARD, protagonist of the movie “Once”, discusses his new solo album and current tour, his inspirations and possibilities for the future.

Glen Hansard  (Infophoto) Glen Hansard (Infophoto)

There is a scene at the beginning of the wonderful film “Once”, where Glen Hansard, left alone on the sidewalk of Dublin, after singing all afternoon for passersby, sings one more song, a visceral scream of pain. A girl watching remains so impressed that she cannot help but go and ask him why he has so much anger and hurt. This great Irish musician is now coming out with his first solo album ("Rhythm and Repose") after his experiences with The Frames and The Swell Season (he and Markéta, the girl in the film, which also won an Oscar for Best Original Song). In “Rhythm and Repose”, Hansard continues to tell his stories of difficult romantic relationships, of desires too large to manage with his fragility. Here are his words in an interview with ilsussidiario.net

This is your first solo album, though in your previous musical experience you were the leading force. How different was it to work on this new album?

It is funny because it did not feel that different: you write some songs, have some ideas. I was living in New York and I got some friends together and we went into the studio to record. I was not even sure if I was making a record, and then I realized I was, and it felt very natural and good. I am proud of it. When I put my name on it, that was when it began to feel different, more like a challenge to stand up and own it. It is just slightly different from every other one because every other one I wrote the songs to, but this one has a sense of ownership.

What do The Frames and The Swell Season mean to you at this point in your career? Are they something of the past, or are they still alive and could surface again?
This is tough to answer because The Swell Season is myself and Markéta. It can only exist if we are in the room making music together. Markèta is very happy and making a solo record in Iceland, so I do not see us sitting down at a piano any time soon. The Swell Season could happen in the future, but it will be down to fate and circumstance. It could never be political because our relationship was never political. It was always love. The question of The Frames is more complicated for me. They are like my life-long brothers. Honestly, I feel like I should make a Frames record after this one, but it is something I can only really pursue when I sit with my friends and play music, and there is a spark. You have to follow the music. The music is more important than me, The Frames or The Swell Season. Right now the Frames are with me here in Chicago. We are playing some music from my record, and also playing some Frames music, so for me, it is a chance to play with them and I am very happy.

Some people call your music Celtic Soul. Does that make sense to you?