Ambiance over perfection was the modus operandi for the Frames' new album, "The Cost," frontman Glen Hansard tells Billboard.com "It came out pretty much exactly as I hoped," he says.

Ambiance over perfection was the modus operandi for the Frames' new album, "The Cost," frontman Glen Hansard tells Billboard.com "It came out pretty much exactly as I hoped," he says. "We went into the studio and set up a rule that we were only going to record everything absolutely live so if anyone f*cked up, we started again. It's made for a very spacious and, I suppose, honest depiction of each tune."

Tired of being labeled as a live band unable to capture its onstage magic in the studio, Hansard believes "The Cost," which is now available in Europe and will arrive Feb. 20 in North America via Anti-, achieved that goal.

"I think there's an intensity in it that has not been there for a while," Hansard says. "So when I say mellow, does it sound like a bunch of people who have kind of hit a point and chilled out? No. I've been listening to a lot of Gordon Lightfoot [and] early Elton John records and for me the sound I wanted was to be really simple. But in terms of mellow, I think there's an intensity to us and without wanting to use the M word, I think it's a bit more mature."

Having just wrapped up a brief American swing supporting his collaborative "Swell Season" album with Czech singer/pianist/composer Marketa Irglova, Hansard is already showcasing new original songs -- "Golden," "Once" and "All the Way Down" -- that could end up on The Frames' next studio album or on an eventual solo project.

Also in the works is a DVD release Hansard hopes to have ready in early 2007. The double-disc set will include a concert recorded at the expansive Pointe Depot in Dublin last fall, as well as a special recording of the band performing "The Cost" in its entirety. The latter is scheduled to take place this weekend at the group's rehearsal space in Dublin.

After European dates next month with the Frames, Hansard returns to America as a solo act opening for Damien Rice. The band is expected to use a 2007 South by Southwest appearance as the kickoff to its next U.S. tour. As for the likelihood of "The Cost" breaking the band to larger American audiences, you'll have to excuse Hansard for keeping his excitement in check.

"It's one of those things where I've been in a band long enough and I've heard the big-breakthrough conversation enough to know it's just another record," says Hansard. "I don't mean to sound defeated but I always get suspicious. I'd love if something came along. If suddenly Bruce Springsteen said, 'The Frames are the greatest band I've ever seen' or maybe it's someone giving us a tour. That would be great and if it happens, we're prepared for it. And if it doesn't, we're prepared for that too."

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