After winning a Grammy, an Oscar, fronting two successful indie folk acts and starring in and composing the soundtrack for a critically acclaimed motion picture, what else could a musician and actor possibly want to accomplish?
In Irishman Glen Hansard’s case, it was recording his first solo album at the age of 43.
“Rhythm and Repose,” the result of Hansard’s year-long stay in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, captures the melancholy of his recent past. After breaking up with Marketa Irglova, who was part of Hansard’s folk rock duo The Swell Season and the co-star of “Once,” he retreated to the boundless confines of New York.
“I took a holiday from music, rented a place in New York because I liked the idea of being still,” he says, “and New York’s a great place to be still in.”
He has an unusual definition of still, though. Intermingled with days of sleeping late, going to galleries and biking, he wrote some songs. Enough songs, he realized, to make a solo album.
“I didn’t plan on making a solo record yet, but I was taking some time out just to look around and experience things, and the songs happened in that time of repose,” says Hansard.
‘Once’ upon a time
Hansard was a guest on Eddie Vedder’s solo ukulele album and opened on several of the Pearl Jam singer’s tour dates, which he continues to do after his own dates this month.
“I was honored,” he says of opening for Vedder. “It was great being unknown and playing to attract new fans.”
Hansard began his musical career more than 20 years ago with The Frames. While they haven’t recorded since 2006, Hansard has worked with Frames bassist John Carney, who directed him in “Once.”
The low-budget film has since been turned into Broadway play that won eight Tony awards this year.
“If I die being the guy who wrote the songs for ‘Once’ … I won’t mind,” muses Hansard.