Having just released a powerful and emotionally direct second solo album, Didn’t He Ramble, Glen Hansard is a man with a lot on his mind.He talks to Olaf Tyaransen about teenage delinquency, his complicated relationship with his father, the tragic death of a man at a Swell Season gig, and why he’s grateful for the advice he’s received from Bruce Springsteen and Eddie Vedder.An hour after this meeting, he’ll be playing an instore around the corner in Tower Records. “I finished the record in April – I delivered it, finally!Later tonight, there’s a ‘secret’ gig in an old building on North Great George’s Street. And we wanted to put it out in September, so basically everybody had to scramble because they didn’t think I was going to finish it, and we were going to have to put it back till next year. I didn’t buy anything in the middle of all the madness but, you see, I didn’t make any money until everything went tits up.” As some of the new album’s strongest songs attest, Glen has endured many years of artistic struggle. “I think you have to have a desire to be in a place if you want to live there, and where I live is just so ideal that I have no desire to buy another place.” If he does decide to get a battered boot on the property ladder, he probably won’t be spending much time at home anyway.
I was getting turned onto stuff that was definitely wider than what popular culture was feeding us at the time, Duran Duran or Culture Club or Madness, who were great, but The Specials and all of the stuff that was a bit deeper.“It wasn’t even planned, we were just out walking and we ended up going into the gaff and sitting up in Seamus’ study, smoking. “I got into sniffing glue, taking drugs and robbing,” he admits.At the time I didn’t really have the awareness to breathe in that high sweet air, but it was an extraordinary experience in retrospect. So today is literally the last day that Ballymun will be recognisable. I knew Ballymun and a little bit of Finglas but that was my world, my block. “I mean, I was doing all of that when I was a kid, and then my uncle ended up – he had to ‘go away’, shall we say (smiles), and his guitar was left in my house.“These guys were going, ‘You like ‘Ghost Town’ so here’s The Stranglers’.Finding music that was a little bit more like Quadrophenia: these guys turned me onto music that was amazing.It’s a bit like Ireland in that there are musicians everywhere.You could throw a stone and you’d hit a songwriter in the audience.” Glen is anxious not to come across as arrogant – “I’m not trying to say I’m a jet-setter, man,” he laughs – but he isn’t faking his discombobulation either. He’s in Dublin today to do a couple of press interviews.Glen played a rough version during a recent interview with US comedian Pete Holmes on his You Made It Weird podcast. "I’ve recorded and I’ve played different versions of it, but I can’t decide.It has to be a fitting tribute and it’s not a fitting tribute to me Da, because it’s about him.He died midway through the filming of the acclaimed fly-on- the-wall documentary The Swell Season, which followed Glen and his then-partner Marketa Irglova on their world tour in the aftermath of their 2008 Academy Award win for the Once song ‘Falling Slowly’.In the film, an emotional Glen tells an interviewer, “My Da died drunk.