Talks Tony Awards Success, Solo Album and Likelihood of Swell Season Reunion: "It's a different relationship, and one you can't force"
Hansard, who co-starred in the original 2007 film and co-wrote its songs with his Swell Season bandmate (and former girlfriend) Marketa Irglova, tells Billboard.com that watching the musical take home eight Tonys "was amazing. They had invited us along, Mar and I, and we sat there and had a great time, and I just needed to take a big, long walk afterwards and just sort of take it in. What an incredible gift this whole thing has been."
Hansard -- who shared an Academy Award with Irglova for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly" -- laughs as he recalls that he initially turned down the invitation from director/screenwriter John Carney, who had played with Hansard in the Frames, to take the part of The Guy in the film. "What I've learned with 'Once' is there are certain times in your life you just have to learn to accept what comes. You have to accept what it brings. Whenever I found myself resisting anything to do with it, I tell myself to just accept it. It's been a fascinating journey. It's grown way beyond us. There's a lot of acceptance and humility to it."
But Hansard does not think "Once's" successful journey so far will lead to a sequel. "It wouldn't happen," predicts Hansard, whose character was last seen boarding a train from Dublin to London to try to sell his songs and possibly reunite with a lost love. "Some of the elements of that story, of what might be in that sequel, were actually lived out in public, I think. I'm happy to let the tale go for now. The next bit belongs to someone else."
Hansard is currently preparing for the June 19 release of his first solo album, "Rhythm and Repose," an 11-song collection he says focuses on "relationships," though not only man-woman but with his country ("Bird of Sorrow," "The Storm, It's Coming") and his brother ("You Will Become"). One of the songs, "Philander," dates back to when the 42-year-old Hansard was 18, and some of the additional 11 songs he recorded during the sessions with producer Patrick Dillett will be released on an EP later this year.
The Frames, meanwhile, will be accompanying Hansard on a just-started tour that stretches into February with dates in North America and Europe. "I've got to go back and make a record with those guys," Hansard says, saluting the "incredible patience" of the group, which hasn't released an album since 2006. "Those guys deserve a medal. I basically sort of said to the lads, 'I'm gonna set off and do my thing for a few years. If we're still all here and still all friends at the end, let's continue making music.' That's kind of what I've done. Now I'll definitely be able to go back to the Frames and at least make some music and see what comes of it."
The Swell Season is another matter, however. "The only reason the Swell Season will happen again is if Marketa and myself find ourselves back in a room together making music," Hansard explains. "It has to be organic; we have to sit down, play some tunes to each other and see what comes of it. We wouldn't want to go back to it to play gigs and make money or anything like that. It's a different relationship, and one you can't force. We do get along great and we do sit down and make music together, but you can't rely on it."