- 15 Jun 12
Our cover star on last year's reunion tour...
Having spent two decades trying to distance himself from Outspan and the rest of The Commitments, Glen Hansard was one of the first of the cast to sign up to last year’s reunion tour, which included a triumphant hometown headliner in the Dublin O2.
Why was the timing suddenly right?
“I would’ve said ‘no’ to it every other time, but because I’d gone off and had success with Once it didn’t seem like trading on former glories,” Glen tells Hot Press. “I wanted to do a bunch gigs where we could give all the money to somebody like the Simon Community, and do places like Whelan’s rather than the O2. The O2’s great and it was everybody’s payday, which I totally get, but personally I’d have done it a bit differently.
“The Commitments was the beginning of a confidence building in Ireland, and 20 years later with the country in a fucking jocker again, it sort of felt right to get back with the guys.”
Andrew Strong told us that, as a mere 17-year-old, he found the fame aspect of The Commitments very hard to handle – “I had a lot of fucking attitude when I was younger,” he confessed. “I came across as being a complete prick!” How did Glen cope?
“I wasn’t good at it,” he reveals. “I probably rivaled Andrew in the prick department for a while! It was so interesting to see the guys after all those years. Doing the film was an amazing experience, but like America’s Got Talent or The X Factor it’s kind of heavy on people to suddenly become famous, to a degree get used to that fame and then have it taken away from them. It can really mess with your head.”
How had the friendships within the cast/band endured?
“Bronagh (Gallagher) is my friend. She was before The Commitments actually, but the others… we never really got beyond the level of people working together. Ken McClusky is someone I really adore, I think he’s a great guy, but we’ve never hung out. I’ve a lot of time for Dave Finnegan – a great and underrated singer but, you know, I walked in there and everybody was still carrying the same fucking bullshit on their shoulders they were all that time ago. I was like, ‘Wow, really?’ Is there not a point where you just fucking let it go and grow up and move onto other things, like are you really still relating to that character?”
In addition to hanging out with Bono, Lou Reed, Karen O and Dr. John last month in New York, Glen nipped down to New Orleans where he encountered the equally legendary Mavis Staples.
“She’s just incredible!” he beams. “I’ve played down there twice since the disaster. An amazing place, man, and those people – fucking hell, that’s the kind of spirit I was hoping to see here after the metaphorical flood of the recession. The humility and the reserve of strength they have is fucking staggering. They were fucked over by George Bush but now they’re winning again.
“Mavis summed it up perfectly when she said on stage, ‘People have been talking down Barack Obama. They say they want to 'take America back.’ Back to where? The ‘50s and ‘60s? No thank you, I ain’t going to the back of the bus!’
“New Orleans was just an amazing experience. I found a record store called Domino – no relation to the label! – that only sold reggae. I ended up buying $350 worth of vinyl – so much I couldn’t get it all on to the plane back to Ireland, it's still in New York. Aer Lingus would have had a field day!”
Read the rest of our in-depth interview with Glen in the current issue of Hot Press.