Category: Archive

All in frame

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The five-piece group are on a two-stop tour playing shows in New York City and Chicago, afterwhich they return to Europe for the launch of their new album, “The Cost,” set to be released in Ireland toward the end of September.
Hansard’s interest in finding new fans outside of Ireland first brought him to America in 2001 where he played some one-man shows in small settings. The audiences responded well to the songs and Hansard’s story-infused stage presence, and eventually the whole band followed.
Though The Frames have always shied away from making flashy videos and radio-ready hits, the band had some success with its last album “Burn the Maps,” an achievement they attribute to working the ground.
“I like it here,” Hansard said. “America is like a field, if you keep on working it you will get crops … it respects hard work.”
Unlike England, where Hansard feels a single music critic can determine the success of a band, America is different — with persistence, any band could gather a fan base, he said.
“Americans are very open listeners, none of their music choices are exclusive,” MacConlomaire added.
But Hansard sets high standards for his fans. He is not interested in courting people who like one Frames song and then put on a Britney Spears’ album; instead he is looking for a base or following that has real appreciation for the band’s music.
“You want the music to grow, but you don’t want your crowd to get so big [at a show] that you don’t feel the dynamic,” Hansard said.
Perhaps it has hurt The Frames in terms of having significant commercial success, but that doesn’t seem to bother either Hansard or MacConlomaire. They sell enough albums and band merchandise to make a living and are simply happy to be traveling the world as part of a band that loves music. Now on their own independent record label, the Frames relish having full control over their music.
“We haven’t taken the dual carriageway, we have taken the back roads,” Hansard said. “We don’t have to do anything we don’t want to do … Just make music and be answerable to it.”
One thing Hansard is clear about is that The Frames are not coming to America to be identified as an Irish band. He balks at the idea of playing Irish festivals or getting too involved in the Irish community because he is afraid of, as he puts it, “turning into the Saw Doctors.”
At the show in the Metro that evening, where the band supported Nada Surf, there was a large number of college-aged Irish fans in the audience, presumably in Chicago, working for the summer.
Hansard was particularly irritated by a group of girls standing in front of him, who were getting into the music rather enthusiastically to the annoyance of some nearby concertgoers. About halfway into the set, Hansard chided them in a light-hearted way. He later noted, “only the Irish could ruin a gig with enthusiasm.”
But maybe this is the hurdle Hansard and The Frames can’t surmount; beloved by the Irish, the band has an amazingly loyal following that seek them out wherever they go.
The next day at Lollapalooza, the Irish once again put in a strong showing despite the high temperatures — tri-color flags in the crowd were hoisted proudly.

“The Cost” will be released in the United States in March and series of U.S. tour dates will follow.

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