All's swell

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Thanks to two decades fronting the popular rock band The Frames, Glen Hansard was a star in his homeland of Ireland long before he starred in 2006's breakout indie musical Once with Czech musician Marketa Irglova.

But in the U.S., the film - and the Oscar the romantically intertwined duo won for their song "Falling Slowly" - made Hansard and Irglova instant celebrities and won them a new legion of adoring fans.

Performing as The Swell Season, the lovebirds are taking their emotionally vulnerable balladry on the road this fall, including a stop at the Palace Theatre that features an opening set from former Smog frontman Bill Callahan. Hansard took a break from last-minute tour preparations to answer some questions over e-mail.-Chris DeVille

Has winning an Oscar significantly changed anything in your life? How so?

Of course it has. It's turned everything on its head. Professionally speaking, it's made a lot of doors open, but also meant you've had to deal with people you had no interest in ever dealing with to begin with, so that's a headache.

Personally, a lot more people know who you are and so you have to work more to find a balance that was never there before. That said, it's been incredible and I feel so lucky and blessed 'cause all I ever wanted was more people to hear my music.

The songs from Once seem so crucial to the movie. How much overlap was there between John Carney writing the screenplay and you writing the music? Was it a back-and-forth sort of thing, or did he hand you the finished script and turn you loose with it?

John and I go back very far and have a relationship where we can know what the other wants without talking. We first talked about this many years ago and began mapping it out.

His goal was to make a modern-day musical 'cause he was tired of great songs being used for a few seconds or minutes. It was a bold, calculated move on his part. So we talked about different scenes, and in particular he had the romantic idea and them meeting in a music shop, which is where "Falling Slowly" came out of.

He would ask me about certain aspects of busking in terms of interaction with people and life on the streets, so to speak. Then, in turn, he knew my own personal situation 'cause of our friendship. The script then combined all those aspects, and when we got into shooting we were still tweaking things.

What does the success of The Swell Season mean for the future of The Frames? Are you hoping to do both indefinitely?

I certainly hope so. We're painfully aware that this did not happen to The Frames, but to Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova. With that said, it would be great if we could keep a portion of this audience along for the next few years on whatever road we travel.

I realize there are folks that are just here to see the Once people, but hopefully we can win them over. And, more importantly, I think there are a lot of new fans of our music. It's those folks in particular we want to see take the journey with us.

At the end of the day, these songs are my songs. And if you like them, then chances are you'll like them presented in another form as well.

Click to to read more of Chris DeVille's interview with The Swell Season's Glen Hansard.