INTERVIEW: Glen Hansard, the Frames
The Frames are going to the US how long are you going over there for?
A month, just over a month.
How big are you over there?
I wouldn’t say we are big, for sure. I mean, in New York we would play 200 to 300, kind of Whelans
level, and Boston the same, were actually a little bigger.
What did you think of the Witnness?
I thought it was really good. I thought the line up on the main stage for the second day was ridiculously bad, [laughs] I really didn’t like it. I thought line up for the stage we played was just about perfect, I was very happy with it. And we were really really honoured to be asked to be on last, it was a huge salute to us, which gave us a great kick. I was a kind of worried as to who would be on the main stage, then I realised it was the Stereophonics and didn’t give a fuck! [Laughs]
So, what did you think of touring Ireland this time?
It was really good, it sort of feels like The Frames have moved into a different gear and that’s a strange feeling, it’s like we have become a bigger band, and I don’t really know when it happened… do you know what I mean?…
Like even last year, even when the album came out, we toured in Ireland we seam to under stand where it was coming from then, But this time the gigs seams to be very very full… the thing with The Frames is we kind of know most of our audience, because we have hung out with them for years, you know?
All of our mates are still there, but there is a hole other gang of people, and it’s exciting. But it’s taken a long time to cultivate audiences which will listen to us when we play quietly, that will sing along when we play a sing along, that will dance when we rock, you know like. Being at a frames gig probably for an audience member is probably a bit difficulty because we do demand a lot of different sides to the thing, because we play very differently during the night or what ever.
So, this time the audience seams a lot bigger and a lot more difficult to be intimated with, but we enjoyed it and had a great time. It was really good for the band to play bigger places to be able to do that, I think at Witnness it was ten thousand people and ten thousand people from all over the country.
Where did that come from, just cutting in the middle of a song with a singsong?
It actually comes from buskin, it’s the old tradition. There are certain bands who just get on stage do there set and get off, I have always found those bands a bit boring, it’s just a personal view, I always find the bands who don’t engage to be boring. I always like to get on and to hang out with people.
The band (The Frames) go out and throw out energy or something to the audience and they throw it back and it’s twice as big and we throw it back and it’s twice as big again. I love having that correspondence, by the end of the night everybody is like this is great crack and it’s all two big to carry and every body falls on the ground or whatever. I really enjoy the idea of an audience and a band having something together.
I mean who wants to go and see a band who just gets on stage and play their album? I mean, I don’t!
Thursday was Dave’s (David Odlum) last gig who will replace him?
I don’t know, at the moment I am determined to just not to think about it. Just spend a while just playing with the four of us and just enjoying not having to deal with a guitar player. As time goes by were going to need one, were going to need one to do gigs, but right now the American tour is covered, we have got one of the lads from Steve Albini’s band and that will be fine.
Once we get back to Ireland we have New Years Eve to worry about and a couple of other gigs, we have plenty of friends who will stand in and play. I don’t really want to commit to a guitarist right now. I have a funny feeling it will be some one who comes to our gigs, some one who likes the band, some one who will come up and say look I can do this, and I am very open to that.
What is Dave Going doing, do you know?
Yeah, I do. His next move is to record Gemma Hayes record, that’s his big job right now, he will finish that in the next couple months and then tour with her, he is going out with her you know? And join her band and also produce other bands. Basically he wants to be a producer, but for now he will concentrate on Gemma.
This might be a question often asked, but what are your music influences?
I don’t know it’s two broad, I think it’s everything, but I don’t really pay two much attention to our peers. I would know what’s going on in terms of the new Radiohead record, I have it, but I try not to get involved in what’s going on. I all ways prefer to judge The Frames in terms of the lineage of history as apposite to what’s going on around us.
Because I think music that’s made among it’s peers dates quickies. If you try to do what’s going on right now in two years time it sound like it came from 2001, the best thing to do is concentrate on ancient history Tom Mights, Bob Dylan, Captain Beefhart, Van Morrison stuff that still makes sense today.
There’s an idea of classicism, I remember when I was about twenty-one, I realised everything I wear I want not to be involved in any time or space, if we make an album cover I want it not to be identifiable in a time, sometime that’s timeless. You end up dressing like an old man, like I’m wearing a black jumper, jeans, Ok I’m wearing vans but those could be from any time in the last forty years. I suppose complete classicism would be that you’d be naked.
I don’t want The Frame’s music to be identifiable within a fashion of time, I love the Idea that it is just music that’s made. And yea of coarse it was made at a certain time, but it does sound like that and it doesn’t sound like it was made in the seventies or sixties because fuck that two.
Why does David Kitt sometimes jump in and play at your gigs?
[Laughs] He’s a mate, bottom line.
What do you prefer, playing live or recording? I would say it’s playing live.
Oh, yeah, much before playing live, Because when you’re playing live all the elements are in place, all the organs of the body are there and the blood is flowing, theirs a transaction of energy it’s theatre, it’s performance.
I mean when I’m in a studio, I’m looking at a microphone and an engineer behind the desk, I find it difficult to get motivated, I have to some how picture it. I remember… here is how to motivated yourself, this is my contribution to Irish history, right now, what I sing now is kind of in some tiny tiny way part of the lineage of Ireland’s artistic community, so right what do I do, how do I do this? But when I am on stage in front of people you don’t even question it, you see a lock and apply a key.
Some bands are really good in the studio, they spend months in there and spend ages over guitar sounds. I can’t stand studios, I want to get in do my thing and run out. I couldn’t be bothered just sitting there watching people enhance sounds, I don’t noticed the difference, I’m like ‘what are you doing?’, ‘Can we not just do this now?’. I’m very impatient in studios, that’s why Dave will be missed, because Dave had great patients for studio and I think together we made a good team, that’s not to say we won’t work with him again, sure we will.
All my home recordings are crap, because I just press record and sing towards the microphone, but the thing about my home recordings vs The Frames albums is that my home recordings are the thing, that’s the noise, even though it sounds awful.
Will the next album be recorded in the US or will you wait till you come back?
I don’t know, we are trying to decided where to do it and who to do it with.
So, you don’t know what to expect from it?
No, but I want it to be hopeful, I found our last record For The Birds kind of sad, as important that was to make it, I want the next one to be more hopeful.
Do you ever plan to make it big in England?
To be honest in England it doesn’t really matter.
Or anywhere, do you plan to make it really big?
What kind of really big? Like REM big? Bigger?
No, to be honest, there is a question popping around my head for a long time now and that question is if you don’t know what you want you will never find it. Simple enough question and what it means to The Frames is that we need to decided how big we want to be, then we can aim for it.
At the moment we don’t really care, we just play gigs, they go well and people always say, “Do you not want to be really big?” Were like I don’t know really. I always think the moment The Frames have any great success we will split up.
Because the reason we exist is almost in spite of the business, we exist in order to fight against something, that’s bull shit. We exist because people have told us we were crap and dropped us. It’s not the reason we do it, we do it because we love it. But it’s all most like if we had success we would just say fuck it we done it.
I have being told you got the name of the band from your first job, is it true it’s from working in a bike shop?
I worked in a bicycle shop for a little while, but the name came from… my back garden was so full of frames, my house became known as The Frames house, much to my mothers distaste, she hated it.
But my garden was full of frames, old bikes, I would make up bikes for my friends out of all the old bikes. So it sort of became known if any body found a bike up on the hill on the way home they would through it into my garden, a graveyard for old bikes.
What do you think is your best record?
I would think it would be Dance the Devil, as in, not the best record but the record that shows what we were, are, the most. We are not the band that For The Birds suggests, because we like to rock a bit. Dance The Devil has got what the band is on one record, but saying that I never listen to it and have no real connection with it as a record.
When I turn it on all I remember is how difficult it was in the studio, I remember, oh shit, how I argued about that part and lost that argument, how much I fought to have this bit changed and it’s still there. At other points, I listen to the record and going I am really glad I won that argument. Listening to that record is kind of weird all I can see is me in pain, shouting at people, so I don’t listen to it, it’s two much.
But when I listen to For The Birds I really enjoy it, because I picture a load of lads in house in the middle of nowhere all agreeing with each other.
DATE: 17/11/2001 | PLACE: DUBLIN