Page last updated at 07:41 GMT, Monday, 19 October 2009 08:41 UK

Talking Shop: Glen Hansard

Glen Hansard and Marketa Iglova
Hansard and Iglova surprised many with their 2008 Oscar win

Dublin-born musician Glen Hansard is perhaps best known as the leading man in Once, a low-budget film that won the best song Oscar in 2008.

Made in just 17 days, John Carney's film saw Hansard play a busker who falls for a young Czech immigrant, played by Marketa Iglova.

In real life, Hansard and Iglova - who collected the Academy Award for their song Falling Slowly - write and perform as The Swell Season.

Nearly two years on, Hansard is back with another Swell Season album, a European tour and a perspective on his rise to fame.


What did you and Marketa do after winning your Oscar?

Having I guess won one of the biggest prizes in the world, you'd expect that we'd break open a bottle of champagne, go on holiday and get some perspective. In fact what we did was go on tour, because opportunities came in and we took them. So we found ourselves very, very busy afterwards, even more busy than we'd been before.

Did you ever find time to evaluate the whole Once experience?

Glen Hansard and Marketa Iglova
Hansard (left) is also a member of Irish band The Frames

I remember asking for a year off, just because I couldn't get any perspective. And that year off turned into the possibility of six months off, and that turned into three months off, and that turned into one month off. So I got about three weeks free this summer where I got to stay at home, do carpentry and plant vegetables. In that three weeks it all hit me what had happened over the last few years.

Besides the Oscars, is there any one moment that particularly stands out?

Going on The Simpsons! We were on tour, they called us up and said 'do you want to appear on The Simpsons?' How do you answer that question? 'Of course!' We were in Tucson, Arizona and we got a train up to Los Angeles overnight. We went in and spent four hours in the studio with the Simpsons people, did our voiceover, got on a train to Phoenix and played a gig. Six months later we saw it on TV and it was like, 'Oh my God!' That was probably the most surreal moment.

Has a sequel to Once ever been discussed?

It was always said when we were making it that maybe we could revisit it in 10 years, so maybe we could do something like that with it. But there are definitely no plans and nothing written on paper. We were very clear from the beginning that it was what it was.

How has the success of Once helped The Swell Season?

It's been an amazing blessing towards getting an audience to come see us, but at the end of the day we were touring before the film and we'll be touring after it. Hopefully all the people who came on board through the film will stay - that's all I can hope. But other than that it is back to work, back to making songs and back to doing what we were always doing.

Has the Once experience influenced your songwriting?

Strict Joy album cover
The band's new album takes its title from a poem by James Stephens

Of course - when a big thing like that happens it affects every part of your life. We got offered a whole different way of living - we got offers to go live in LA, film parts, offers to write music for movies. And honestly we didn't take them because it didn't feel authentic. This does - going back to making music in the real world does. The only thing that matters in life is doing things that feel authentic, and what feels really right now is getting back to work.

How would you describe the songs on your new record?

That's not my job. I just make the music - it's not my job to sell it to anyone. Of course it's love songs in the area of a relationship, but that's really as far as I can go with it. You make your work and it's up to other people to decide what it is.

You and Marketa became romantically involved off screen as well as on. Is that still the case?

We're not lovers. Me and Mar had a great friendship, and then we had a bit of a relationship and it was lovely and we really enjoyed it. But I think we both realised our friendship is probably best served by being just mates, so we went back that way.

Was that a necessary step, to go back to how things were?

Me and Mar graduated into being more than friends at one point, but I feel that rather than stepping backwards we went forward again - we became better friends, deeper friends.

Now when we tour and play music together, thankfully all that magic is still there in terms of what I've always loved about her, what she has brought to my music and hopefully what I've brought to hers. There's a deep caring there - I'd lie in the middle of the road for her if it came to it. It's a rare thing to find friends that you feel that close to.

The Swell Season's new album, Strict Joy, is out on 26 October. Glen Hansard was talking to BBC News Entertainment reporter Neil Smith.



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