Singer-songwriter Glen Hansard

The Oscar-winning singer-songwriter shares his thoughts on the Tony-winning Broadway adaption of Once and discusses his first solo project, “Rhythm and Repose.”

Successfully combining music and film, Glen Hansard is the principal songwriter-vocalist-guitarist for the Irish rock band The Frames and half of the duo The Swell Season, which won a best original song Oscar for "Falling Slowly" from the feature Once. He also starred in the indie film version of the Tony-winning musical. A native of Ireland, Hansard quit school at age 13 and honed his craft on the street, in bars and in pubs. By 17, he had a record deal and a starring role in the film, The Commitments. His new CD, "Rhythm and Repose," is his first solo effort and first album of new material since 2009.


Tavis: Pleased to welcome Glen Hansard back to this program. The Oscar-winning singer-songwriter also provided the music and the lyrics for the Broadway adaptation of his film, “Once.” So last week, “Once,” as you know, took home eight Tony Awards including one for Best Musical.

Starting tomorrow, you can pick up a copy of his first ever solo project called “Rhythm and Repose” – great title. Here is the some of the video for the song, “Love Don’t Leave Me Waiting.”


Tavis: Could be Mississippi, but where was that?

Glen Hansard: That was in Jamaica.

Tavis: Jamaica, okay [laugh]. Okay, I’ll take Jamaica. Good to have you back.

Hansard: Thanks, Tavis. Good to be here.

Tavis: So the Tony Awards, I was trying to think, nine? Eight out of nine? That’s pretty good.

Hansard: Yeah, it was pretty amazing. It was amazing. We weren’t even sure we got tickets for myself and Marketa who were originally the guy and girl from the film.

The day before, they say we got your tickets and, of course, we have to try to organize flights ’cause I was in Ireland and Marketa was in Iceland. We sat in and it was just the most…

Tavis: You’re holding up that sign. So you got here the day before.

Hansard: Yeah.

Tavis: Wow. And what did you make of sitting in the audience and hearing “Once” eight times?

Hansard: I mean, the path we took a long time ago, what “Once” was as a film and how successful it was, which was so great for us that there was definitely a sort of a sense of passing on whatever torch we carried to the Broadway folk.

Really, what was lovely about being there with them was that it was almost like a very clean experience. All the awards were for those guys and we were just sitting there applauding them and the fact that it kept on winning.

I had a funny moment afterwards. When I heard Best Musical which was the one everyone was kind of hoping for, I just had to duck out. I took 40 blocks in and I was singing that great song, “I’m gonna take you, New York, I’ll make it happen. I’m on the caboose, I’m drinking Manhattan.”

I was just walking around the street going, “Man, this town has been so good to us,” you know, and just this country. We made this thing like five years ago in three weeks. It’s one of those things that just has kind of kept going and it’s a blessing. It’s great.

Tavis: I’m just laughing and thinking that you’re walking around New York talking and singing to yourself for 40 blocks and, in typical New York fashion, nobody’s saying anything to you.

Hansard: No, of course.

Tavis: Kept walking and talking and singing. Nobody stopped you or said a word [laugh].

Hansard: I got upset with this homeless guy I met. It’s just one of those nights. We ended up sitting together and he was talking about this amazing renaissance in this jazz radio station that he’s tuned into. I was like what are you doing to me?

He says, “You know, I don’t even want to be out here tonight. My girl sent me out.” So his girl sent him out to get some money, so I gave him whatever I had in my pocket. He was an amazing guy.

Tavis: It’s one thing to celebrate the awards and I suspect any songwriter, any actor, when they hear their project called eight or nine times, can celebrate the victories, but did you like the play? Did you like what they did with the work?

Hansard: Well, I have to say that, when I first heard about – like it was after the Oscars and stuff – that they had sold the rights, I have to say honestly I was kind of horrified at the idea. I thought it was gonna be an awful venture. I resisted it very much and was against it.

Then over time, they started getting really great people involved. Enda Walsh came on board, John Tiffany, and a lot of the work that those had done certainly was non-musical, but it was also kind of dark, you know. I remember thinking, gee, these people might actually treat it well.

I went and had a meeting with Enda Walsh and he was like, man, I haven’t a clue what we’re gonna do with it, but I’ll tell you, we’re not gonna disrespect it. I’d been to see a few Broadway shows. We don’t have a history in Ireland of musical theater at all, so I knew nothing about what Broadway really was.

I have to say, the stuff that I saw, I was taken on the ride. I mean, I laughed when I was to laugh and the tears welled up when the tears were supposed to well. I mean, I went on the ride, but I wasn’t crazy about it as an entertainment format.

You know, I wasn’t kind of crazy about it, but then what they did, I thought they just dealt with it very sensitively. That was my biggest fear that they were gonna ham it up and turn what we had originally done into something like “boring slowly” [laugh]. Thankfully, they didn’t.

Tavis: Speaking of Ireland, since you went there, I read a story. I didn’t know this when you were last on the program, but is it true that you met Bono when you were just a kid years ago because his car had broken down?

Hansard: Yeah. Of course, Bono’s, of course, the most famous band in Ireland. I remember dragging my scooter home. I had this scooter and I had The Pixies which was one of my favorite bands at the time like written on the side of my scooter.

I remember driving along. It was like 4:00 in the morning. I was coming back from my girlfriend’s house and I saw Bono pushing his car. Of course, I pull in. There’s no one on the road. It’s like the dead of night.

He was like, “Can you give me a hand?” I was like, “No problem.” I parked my scooter and I’m pushing the car. He’d just run out of petrol and we pushed it to the garage, but we ended up having this great conversation. “You like The Pixies? I was like, yeah.

I was surprised he knew who The Pixies were. I thought they were very much an underground band at the time, but, of course, they had even toured with U2 and he knew everything about music. I was really impressed by him. Then it was only years later then that I guess we met each other again in the context of being in bands together.

Throughout the years, he’s always been a really good guy and always remembered that night and always thanked me for helping him push the car. He’s a really sweet dude.

Tavis: So The Frames must be getting pretty annoyed with you [laugh]. You’re taking a long time, a long detour to get back to doing a project with them. Is it true that they’re gonna back you up on the tour for this?

Hansard: They’re on the tour with me, yeah.

Tavis: They’re on the tour. Cool.

Hansard: I made this record with a few jazz guys and a few guys in New York that I really wanted to make a record with. They’re out here with me now.

Tavis: They’re being very patient with you then?

Hansard: They’ve been very patient. They deserve a medal.

Tavis: So this is your first solo project?

Hansard: Yeah.

Tavis: But you got The Frames playing behind you?

Hansard: Yeah, of course, yeah. What’s lovely about this opportunity is we’ll get to play songs together on tour and sound checks. That’s really where songs happen is when you’re just in that down moment with your mates and you’re playing.

So part of my logic was, one, these guys know me so well. I’ve known them for 20 years, so I can turn on a dime and head any different direction and those guys just know where to go. But secondly, I get to sit around and jam with them and we get to sort of come up with stuff.

Tavis: If this were going to be – and obviously it is – your very first solo project, is this what you thought or hoped it would be? Put another way, are you happy with it?

Hansard: Very much, very much. You know, albums are a funny thing. They’re not like an intellectual decision. It’s a collection of your kind of musings.

Like it’s a collection of your diary entries and you pick which one’s gonna make the most sense together and you put out a record and you sort of live it. But I’m very happy with some of the songs. I’m very happy with all of the songs. It just feels like something I’m happy to put out.

Really that’s the best thing you can say. Any record you make, if you can stand next to it and go, yep, that’s me, I’ll defend any song on there, then I think you’re in good shape.

Tavis: And the title. I love the title, “Rhythm and Repose.”

Hansard: Thanks. I went to Jamaica, like I said, and it was a very important time in my life. I’ve realized, you know, having turned 40, that rest is just as important as work. In fact, it’s equally as important. You know, I used to always think to take a bit of rest off when you can get it, which is how most people live.

But I’ve realized that it’s really, really important to, when you’re resting, turn off the phone, get away from the computer, go out and hang out and play football with your mates or just get away from that world and then, when you’re working, be fresh for it. It’s been a big thing for me.

Tavis: I’m finding as I get older that it’s the rest that makes the work better. I mean, the best ideas, the creative, the innovative stuff, doesn’t come to you when you’re exhausted.

Hansard: Absolutely. You know, when I was a kid waiting on the bus, I remember that was when I imagined my life. I imagined everything that I was gonna be when I grew up and I imagined all of these amazing journeys and amazing people I’d meet. Of course, all of it has kind of come to fruition.

Nowadays, you look at a kid waiting on a bus and he’s in Facebook or he’s texting his mates. I sometimes wonder and worry for the imagination. I’m like what’s happening to our imagination? Our imagination just needs space. It’s all it needs, that moment where you just sort of stare into the distance where your brain gets to sort of somehow rise up.

Of course, we still have sleep which is great thing, but I sort of worry about the modern imagination. I hope that the world of the eye, this or that, doesn’t sort of crush our own musings.

Tavis: I want to say before the 45 seconds here to play us out, since you brought your guitar with you, fair to say that this project is really about, to my ear at least, about relationships?

Hansard: Yeah, very much. I mean, it’s in the vernacular of a relationship, but often that relationship is between yourself and your people, yourself and your God, yourself and – you know, it’s not always just a woman, but this one is [laugh].

Tavis: Go for it. Before you do that [laugh], the new project from Glen Hansard, as I said – I really love the title – is called “Rhythm and Repose,” his first solo project. You can catch him this summer.

The Frames are with him on this tour, so you’ll have a great time checking him out. Glen Hansard, that said, good to see you again.

Hansard: You too. Thank you.

Tavis: And take it away.

Hansard: Thank you.


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Last modified: July 9, 2012 at 1:30 pm