Mit seinem ersten Soloalbum schlägt
Glen Hansard das
dritte musikalische Kapitel seiner Karriere auf. 20 Jahre war er
Bandleader bei der irischen Folkrockband The Frames, danach
gründete er mit seiner damaligen Partnerin, der Sängerin und
Pianistin Markéta Irglová, das Bandprojekt The Swell Season,
und kürzlich legte Glen Hansard sein erstes Soloalbum Rhythm And
Repose vor. Obwohl Hansard, wie er selbst von sich behauptet,
kein Schauspieler ist, gelangte er gerade durch seine Rollen in The
Commitments und Once zu Weltberühmtheit. Für den
Low-Budget-Überraschungserfolg Once von 2006 erhielt Glen
Hansard zusammen mit Markéta Irglová den Oscar für den besten
Originalsong "Falling Slowly".
fm5 traf Glen Hansard kurz vor seinem Auftritt beim Harvest Of Art-Festival in Wiesen. Zunächst etwas abwesend wirkend, da er sich gerade der Erstellung der Songliste für den Auftritt widmet, entpuppt sich Hansard während des Gesprächs als euphorischer Erzähler, mit fast ungebremstem Redefluss.
„Ob die Setlist bei jedem Auftritt
geändert wird?“, werfe ich ein. „Nun, ein bisschen was wird
immer geändert, ein bisschen was bleibt gleich, aber heute wird
alles geändert und an das Festival angepasst“, sagt Hansard, „und
ich versuche gerade herauszufinden, wie man die Setlist mit nur fünf
Leuten spielt, das ist interessant“. Denn im Vergleich zu den
Auftritten in den Vereinigten Staaten, wo die Band auf bis zu 13
Leute anwuchs, finden die Auftritte in Europa mit nur fünf Musikern
statt. Auch ein Leonard Cohen-Song will für den in weniger als zwei
Stunden stattfindenden Auftritt noch einstudiert werden. Dennoch
wirkt Glen Hansard extrem entspannt, was nicht zuletzt seiner Auszeit
zu verdanken ist, über die er uns später noch erzählen wird.
Außerdem ist der in Irland aufgewachsene Sänger natürlich
mittlerweile Routinier, was Auftritte anbelangt, hat er seine
musikalischen Sporen doch auf der Straße verdient
– ähnlich wie im Film Once,
der sehr stark auf Hansard's Vergangenheit basiert.
Glen Hansard: One of the things I really enjoy is walking into a situation where you're not sure where you're gonna get. It's kind of nice to work with what is there rather than where it's predictable, when you create a space for yourself where everything is precious and silent. With The Swell Season we were very fortunate that we toured a lot in nice theaters with seated audience. I guess you can ask any artist that they would prefer to play to a room full of people who know who you are and care about your music. And then occasionally you find yourself in a situation like this, there's an excitement when you are going to try to win an audience and that's what essentially being a busker is. You are playing to strangers all the time, so it becomes part of your blueprint if you start playing music on the street that every situation you're working you don't expect them to know who you are.
fm5: As well in Once as in The Commitments you played a musician. Where you ever thinking of intensifying acting and also taking over other roles or was the musical aspect the driving force?
No, it was just coincidently, and since Once I;ve been offered a few different roles, interesting roles, not musicians. Because I'm not an actor I have the luxury of saying I would never like to do something unless I absolutely feel compelled to do it. And as a musician you have that luxury. You only ever write a song when you really need to. So, with an acting role it's like taking on a job, for the next three months you're waking at 5 a.m. and you're giving this project 100 percent of your energy. I just don't know if I can feel that way about most of all the stuff that comes my way, it just feels like a job but it doesn't feel like a job that I like. There were one or two things that came up where I was sorry that I couldn't do it because I was busy with music. But you have to follow the music.
So did anything change for you after you received the Oscar for Once – personally or musically?
professionally certainly. We were given the greatest gift any artist
could ever dream of which is an audience. It's all you ever wished
for. And when you're given an audience, that doesn't mean the
audience is going to stay. It just means the audience is curious and
they'll check you out. But to answer your question, I would say
everything changed and nothing changed. You know the whole context
changed but essentially our friends are still the same.
Let's speak about your latest album Rhythm And Repose, which is your first solo album. What is for you personally the main difference between Glen Hansard as a solo artist and The Swell Season and The Frames, apart from different musicians taking part?
Well, it's three different things, it's pretty tough to answer. I sort of feel like, as a songwriter, one must sing about where you are, and I say that with respect to the future and the past. You need to sing about what's before you, on your table. The Swell Season existed because it was myself and Markéta (Markéta Irglová, Anm.). The only way that could continue to exist is of her and myself. But we've gone different parts. Markéta is now living in Iceland, she's made two beautiful records on her own.
I thought she also sang on your record?
Yes, she sang on my record. Oh, we're great friends, but we definitely needed not to be in a band together. Once was a beautiful chapter of our lives and also before Once, it was all very strong and I'll never forget this time as long as I live. She will always remain, personally speaking she'll remain possibly the most important relationship I ever had, in terms of romance, even tough as brief as it was. That's why it's important for me that The Swell Season doesn't exist right now, it's totally logic.
So I find myself in New York alone, I was writing songs and hanging out with friends, and I just thought it was the most natural thing in the world to go into a studio and record some songs. I didn't think about a Glen Hansard record, I didn't think about a Swell Season record, I didn't think about a Frames record. I kind of knew I didn't want to make it with my friends, The Frames, because it was more personal. And I felt that this isn't a rock record and The Frames is or can be a rock band. I had never really thought about a Glen Hansard record all my life but I guess I was probably always heading that way naturally - and I felt that it was time.
When you record a new album, do you have a master plan or a vision of how it should sound in the end? Because like you just said The Frames were a rock band, and since The Swell Season your music has become more quiet and even more emotional.
Yes, because I'm getting older. Like I said, you sing about where you are. And when you're older you don't feel as much angst. I'm pretty relaxed (lacht). My life's pretty good, so I want to be honest with that, I want to be honest with where I am. For me the worst music is the music made by men who are too old to make it. I wasn't thinking about if this record is mellow or does it reflect my age? But what I became really aware of through this time was that rest is very important. It's as important as work, and that's why I called the album Rhythm And Repose. And I hadn't rested since the success of Once. We hadn't taken a break, and it was only when I took a break that my soul caught up with me. And suddenly I was okay with the success because I struggled a bit with it when it happened. It was all very fast. And when you've been in a band for 20 years you've struggled for all those 20 years. Struggle becomes the thing you know, so even success becomes a struggle. I wasn't entirely graceful in my success and I took some time off to alert me to that and now, to be honest I feel quite like relaxed. I don't know if that's good or not (lacht laut).
Maybe you needed a kind of repose from the rock circus...
Yes, I went to Jamaica, I've never taken a holiday before. And I love Jamaican music, so I went to Jamaica for two weeks and did nothing. I smoked a lot of weed which is very mellow in Jamaica, because I'm not really a smoker. I listened to a lot of great music and just turned off, I switched off, which is really important. Your soul catches open.
When you write songs, do you focus on melodies or lyrics first and what is more important for you?
Well, the best songs are the ones that come the same way like it's an involuntary. I wanted to say like vomiting but that's probably not the right way to put it, it's not very beautiful but it's an involuntary. A good song will just come to you. I don't mean to take all responsibility away from the writer, but the good stuff tends to come when you're on a good spot or when you are on a shit spot. So basically it's subconscious work to that you add conscious editing to. So it comes formless and beautiful and then you chisel away, but the good songs have very little chisel in them, they're just sort of coming out.
Your voice is pretty amazing because on the one hand you can sing very soft and mellow and on the other hand you can scream really loud like the “Broken Hearted Hoover Fixer Sucker Guy” in the movie Once. Do you have a special voice training or was your voice always that variable?
No, not at all. I feel like my voice has only really come to me in the last maybe ten years. And again I feel like a man earns his voice, the same way he earns his song. Your song doesn't come to you at the beginning. And I think will is under estimated. Talent is great, talent is important, but will as well, it's like saying "I want to be a singer". And I think singing in the streets definitely helped me to project. It didn't help me to be a better singer necessarily but it helped me to project, and of course growing up singing other people's songs, as a busker you sing covers all the time, that definitely helped as well, because you're learning other people's vocal styles. I mean for me it was all Van Morrison to be honest.
Also Cat Stevens?
No, it's funny, people say a lot to me that I sound like Cat Stevens. I love Cat Stevens but I have no connection to him, I don't feel his music the same I'd feel Van. So no, there's a lot of comparisons with Cat Stevens and I don't hear it. But I would say one earns his voice. And I'm happy with it now. I'm happy with my singing voice now, it definitely seems to have gotten to a place where it sounds like me.
Der Tourmanager gibt das Zeichen, dass die Interviewzeit vorüber ist, schließlich muss ja für den Auftritt noch die Setlist fertig gestellt und der Leonard Cohen-Song eingelernt werden. Als wir bei der Verabschiedung kurz auf das Thema Tätowierungen zu sprechen kommen, deutet Glen Hansard auf einen Muttermal-großen Punkt auf seinem linken Unterarm: „Nein, ich habe kein Tattoo. Als Kind habe ich begonnen, hier eines zu machen, und es sollte eine Art Kreuz werden, aber ich habe es nicht zu Ende gemacht. Außerdem war mein Vater immer gegen Tattoos (lacht).“