Introducing: Hothouse Flowers


This page answers the following questions: For information about those responsible for creating this site, see the credits page.

Who are they?

Named after a Wynton Marsalis album, Hothouse Flowers have released five studio albums, achieving most of their success in Australia and in their homeland of Ireland. They were once described as the "the best unsigned band in the world" by Rolling Stone magazine.

The band currently consists of:

Liam Liam O'Maonlai
(vocals, keyboards)

As their lead vocalist, Liam is the focal point for the band.

Fiachna O'Braonain
(guitars)

A guitarist most bands would kill for - a true professional whose contributions are impeccable and restrained. The perfect foil for Liam.

Fiachna

Peter Peter O'Toole
(guitar, bass guitar)

Previously their bassist, Peter switched to guitar for "Born", adding new weight to their sound

Dave Clarke
(drums)

Their drummer since around the time of the "Born" album.

Dave

Prior to the recording of "Born", the band also featured:


What do they sound like?

Hothouse Flowers are the sort of band your Mum would listen to if she listened to rock music. They're not out there pushing the edges of rock - they sit comfortably at its heart, recording rollicking and occasionally frantic rock music that draws on their own Irish heritage and just about anything else that takes their interest. The rich voice of Liam O'Maonlai enables them to rock out wildly or tackle a gentle song with equal aplomb.

Their strength lies in their ability to take your average harmless song and add an extra edge of excitement to it. The opening track on "Songs From The Rain" is a good example: it opens without spectacle but gradually, the subtle movements in the rhythm become unpredictable and breathtaking. Or listen to the opening of the sixth track on that album: if you don't pay attention, you won't even notice the guitar that segues seamlessly into saxophone. It is this strength in subtlety that sets them apart.


How did you come across their music?

I first heard of Hothouse Flowers through a music-fanatic friend. I was 12 or 13 and I went through a phase of sifting through her large collection and taping things that interested me. She recommended the debut album from Hothouse Flowers, People but I wasn't interested.

I next heard of them when they released the first single from their second album Home. That song was a cover of "I Can See Clearly Now" and whilst I didn't mind it, I wasn't enthused enough to go out and buy the album.

And then I heard the song "Movies" and I began to get a feel for the style of music they played. Before I knew it, that song stuck in my brain and I remember enduring a day of torture as it bounced around in there mercilessly. I suddenly decided that I had to have the album, so I went and bought it.

And I was underwhelmed. It struck me as a well crafted album but it didn't get me bouncing around quite the same as "Movies" did.

When Dire Straits visited Australia, they brought out Hothouse Flowers as their support act for the outdoor show they played in Canberra. It sounded like a good combination to me, so myself and a friend decided to go.

That's when I became a fan. It rained steadily for the duration of the show but no one really noticed that when Hothouse Flowers were on stage. They won over everyone, whether they'd heard them before or not. They played the crowd a little but it was the music which got us going. It was infectious.

My favourite moment came as they left the stage. I can't even recall what the song was, but I remember we picked up the vibe of the song pretty quickly and we were all singing along enthusiastically after a short while. The band began improvising, with Liam making up some nonsense vocals for us to sing back at him. We were having a blast, when suddenly Liam offered a wave, grabbed a towel from a roadie, and disappeared backstage. Nevertheless, we kept singing away, completely undeterred. Fiachna (guitar) then waved and departed, closely followed by Leo (saxophone), but still we kept singing. Then Peter (bass) and Jerry (drums) brought the song to a halt and also left, but on we went. A few minutes later, with the stage empty, we were still singing away. It was one of those unforgettable concert moments.

With the subsequent release of Songs From The Rain, I was initially underwhelmed. But after a handful of listens, the songs began to grow on me. On that album, Hothouse Flowers combined the enthusiasm of their live performances with the craft evident on their first two albums. I then decided it was the the best album I had ever heard, an opinion which I still hold more than five years later.