Irish fans have devoured the passionate folk-pop stylings of Dublin’s the Frames since 1990 as their music has transformed from brash but literate indie-folk to a sparser, more experimental and often heavier brand of introspection. Outside of Ireland, audiences may be more familiar with the outfit’s charming lead vocalist Glen Hansard, who has starred in two beloved music-oriented films.
The driving force and principal talent in The Frames, Hansard’s story starts young and with undeniable focus. At 13 he leavse school to learn the tools of his future trade as a busker on the streets of Dublin. He borrows money to record a demo tape a few years later that quickly piques the interest of Island Records.
On signing, he gathers a band around him, The Frames. The name was allegedly the result of his childhood fascination with bicycles. Glen regularly repaired his friends’ bikes and with the frames scattered about his family’s yard, his home was consequently known as ’the house withe the frames.’ We’re not sure whether the story is true, but there was something poetically perfect about it. A band needs a history, from the day they’re formed.
As the band assembled, Glen took the part of Outspan Foster, the guitarist in Alan Parker’s The Commitments, alongside a soon-to-be-famous Andrea Corr, and Frames violinist and singer colm Mac Con Iomaire.
The critics and audiences raved. But by the time it was in the cinemas, Glen was getting back to business with The Frames: Dave Odlum on guitar, Noreen O’Donnell on vocals, John Carney on bass and Paul Brennan on drums. And Colm Mac Con Iomaire on violin of course.
In 1992 The Dancer became the band’s debut single. And Pixies producer Gil Norton took the helm for debut album Another Love Song.But just as things should have started going skywards, they started going sideways. Graham Downey replaced John Carney on bass, the band were dropped from Island Records, they signed to ZTT, became The Frames DC (to, ironically, avoid confusion with an existing set of frames in the USA), and Noreen O’Donnell jumped ship.
But all of this just strengthened the songwriting, and the commitment, and the resulting album, Fitzcarraldo. Another long player for ZTT followed, Dance The Devil... And after that? You couldn’t have predicted it... Tours, albums, singles, another feature film, an Academy Award, an acclaimed Finnish/Czech/Irish fusion, an appearence on The Simpsons, a tour with Bob Dylan, a Britney Spears cover...And that’s just the next few chapters. But we don’t have the space to tell those stories, so stop here and enjoy the first three Frames albums.