Few indie folk heroes got an Oscar or set the stage for a successful musical on stage, but Glen Hansard is an entertainer who can wear both of those feathers in his hat. As a member of the bands The Frames and The Swell Season, Hansard won acclaim for his literate, intelligent and passionate songwriting. And he continues to win similar awards as a solo performer. Hansard first conquered the audience with flexible but expressive indie rock while a member of The Frames, then gained international fame with fellow singer-songwriter Markéta Irglová in the duo The Swell Season; their emotionally open, primarily acoustic indie folk became the centerpiece of the award-winning independent romantic drama. After going solo with his 2012 solo debut, “Rhythm and Repose”, Hansard demonstrated stylistic diversity.
The beginning of his career
Glen Hansard was born on 21 April 1970 in Dublin, in the Ballymun area. From his childhood, Hansard was far more passionate about music than school assignments. At 13, on the advice of a teacher who believed he had a future as a musician, he quit his studies and began making a living playing on the streets of Dublin. Glen has no special education, he never graduated from any institution. For five years, the musician played on the streets of the city, worked on his songs and developed creatively. In his late teens, his parents helped him record demos of his original works, supported financially. A total of 50 copies were made, one of which was heard by the famous Denny Cordell. Cordell was impressed with Hansard’s recordings, and on his recommendation, the musician signed with Island Records. After contracting with the label, Hansard needed to form a backing band, so in 1990 he assembled a group of local rock musicians. And in 1991 the first album “Another Love Song” was released.
In the same year, he made his debut as an actor in Alan Parquet’s film “The Kommitments Group”. The role earned him fame outside Iceland, but according to Glen himself, acting greatly distracted him from the music. He decided to focus on it.
However, when a new love song fell short of Island Records’ sales expectations, the “frames” had to focus on live work until they struck another deal, this time with ZTT Records. The record company released the band’s second album, Fitzcarraldo, in 1995. A follow-up album, “Dance the Devil” followed in 1999. The band’s creativity not only had a vast audience in its native country, but was also particularly popular in the United States. In 2001, they released their fourth album, “For the Birds”, and behind it in the live recording “Breadcrumb Trail” came out the following year. Hansard also found himself in front of the cameras again when he signed up as host of Other Voices: Songs from the Room, a show for Irish television that showcased local talent.
Co-creation with Irglova
In 2006, after the release of the album “The Cost”, Hansard took a short leave of absence to work on the project “The Swell Season”, in which he collaborated with the Czech Republic singer-songwriter Markéta Irglová. Although Hansard was 18 years older than Marketa, they struck up a romantic relationship that continued after the completion of their joint album.
Around the same time, screenwriter and director John Carney, a former member of “The Frames” band, convinced Hansard to play the lead male role in the independent feature film “Once Upon a Time” about an Irish musician who falls in love with an Eastern European immigrant and shop colleague. Irglova played the lead female role in the film. The film was released in 2007, and made the pair famous. And their song, written and performed in the film “Fall Slowly,” earned them the Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In 2009 “The Swell Season” released the second album “Strict Joy”, but by that time Hansard and Irglova had amicably torn their romantic relationships. Occasionally, they continued to collaborate, but no longer as “The Swell Season”. However, their music found a second life in 2011 when a Broadway musical adapted from Carney’s film “Once Upon a Time” debuted. The show moved to Broadway in 2012 before being staged in the UK, Canada, Australia and South Korea.
In 2012, Hansard is releasing his first solo album, “Rhythm and Repose”, and at the same time reported a final breakup with Irglova and a move to New York. Later in 2012, Hansard’s track “Take The Heartland” appeared on the soundtrack to the hit film “The Hunger Games”, and the following year he joined Eddie Vedder of “Pearl Jam” to record a cover – version of Bruce Springsteen’s song “Drive All Night”, which was included on the album of the same name released in support of music education by the charity Little Kids Rock.
In September 2015, Hansard returned with a new album, “Didn’t He Ramble”, followed by an American concert tour. In January 2018, Hansard’s fourth full-length solo album “Between Two Shores” was released, in support of which he organized an international concert tour, including a special show with moos- by the Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra.
As mentioned above Glen had a lengthy affair with Irglova. When they got together, she was just 19 when Hansard was 37, but much of the age difference wasn’t a hindrance. But the couple have been familiar for a long time. Mar’s father was an acquaintance of Glen, so the girl met musicians at the age of 12.
Hansard himself spoke so much about the girl: “I think we loved each other a couple of years ago, but until recently nothing was happening. To be honest with you, I felt that already then this girl had become so prominent in my life that she would probably be the girl I would ever marry.” But as time has shown, it was not destined to happen. To date Glen Hansard is not married and has no children, the musician completely gives himself to creativity.