The group first formed in 1985 when
Liam Ó Maonlaí and
Fiachna Ó Braonáin (who had known each other as children in an
Coláiste Eoin) began performing as street
buskers, on the streets of
Dublin, Ireland as "The Incomparable Benzini Brothers". They were soon
Peter O'Toole, and had won a street-entertainer award within a year. They
renamed the group "Hothouse Flowers" and began writing songs and performing
magazine called them "the best unsigned band in Europe".
Bono from the band
the Flowers performing on television and offered his support. They released
single, "Love Don't Work This Way", on U2's
Mother Records label, which quickly led to a deal with the
People was released in early 1988 and was the most successful debut album in
Irish history. It reached the
number one slot in Ireland within a week and eventually reached number 2 in
UK Albums Chart. The international success of the album received a great
boost when a
music video for the first single, "Don't Go", was played in the interval
between contestants and the scoring in the 1988
Eurovision Song Contest. This propelled the song to number 11 in the
UK Singles Chart, the highest position the band would ever achieve in this
The second album, Home was released in June 1990. It was recorded
sporadically during extensive touring; with sessions in
London, a rented house with a mobile
recording set-up in
Carlow, Ireland, and one day of work with
Daniel Lanois in
New Orleans, while
Bob Dylan was taking a break from his sessions with Lanois. The album did
not have the overwhelming success of the first record, but it did reach No1 in
Australia. The two singles from the album, "Give It Up" and "I
Can See Clearly Now" (a
cover version of the
Johnny Nash song) reached numbers 30 and 23 respectively in the
UK Singles Chart..
Songs From the Rain was released in March 1993. Though it received excellent
reviews and achieved some chart success in Australia and Ireland, worldwide
sales were disappointing. In an attempt to boost record sales (and especially to
break in to the American charts), the
record label and the band's
management kept the group on the road almost continuously for the entire
year. The band also participated in the
Another Roadside Attraction tour in
Canada that year, and collaborated with
The Tragically Hip,
Midnight Oil and
Daniel Lanois on the one-off single "Land"
to protest forest
British Columbia. Also in 1993, The Hothouse Flowers joined
Def Leppard on their song
From the Inside, found on their
By early 1994, Ó Maonlaí had decided that the group was suffering from
physical, mental and creative exhaustion, and he called for a year-long
The year-long break turned into several years, as the band members recouped
their energy and experienced changes in their personal lives, including
divorces, marriages, the birth of children and the death of Ó Maonlaí's father.
The group also split from their long-time manager, and Leo Barnes (saxophone)
and Jerry Fehily (drum kit) left the group. O'Toole and ó Braonáin spent some of
their time off from the Hothouse Flowers recording and touring with
Michelle Shocked. Ó Maonlaí worked with
Tim Finn and
Andy White, while also studying traditional Irish music.
In 1998 they released Born. Joined by Wayne Sheehy on drums and Rob Malone on
bass guitar, this album contained extensive
songwriting contributions from O'Toole, who (freed from his bass
responsibilities) played mostly
keyboards on the recording. The music also incorporated more elements of
synthesizers and studio effects.
By 1999 they had reached the end of their contract with London Records, and
both the label and the band decided not to renew. The label head allowed the
group the rights to record songs from their past London releases and produce a
live record. Live' was self-released by the group later that year, taken mostly
from an October 1998 show in the National Stadium, Dublin, with one track from a
November show in
Sheehy and Malone left the group shortly after the release of the record.
Dave Clarke, formerly of
Blue in Heaven, joined on drums and O'Toole returned to the bass.
In 2000 London Records released a compilation of songs from their four
previous albums titled Best of.
During the band's official hiatus between Songs From the Rain and Born, band
members had both written songs individually, and sporadically got together to
write collaboratively. Some of these songs were never released, while others
altered significantly to become some of the tracks on Born. In 2003 the Flowers
collected these unreleased recordings and issued them as Vaults: Volume 1.
In February 2004 the band released their latest album, Into Your Heart,
produced by the band and John Reynolds. The first single, "Your Love Goes On",
reached Number 3 on the Irish charts. The album also reached No3 on the Irish
Album Chart and received critical acclaim that they were back to their best. The
record was released on the RubyMusic label in
Europe and distributed by Redeye in the United States. They have toured
extensively in support of the record, including a performance at the
Glastonbury Festival in 2004.
Maonlaí has done several tours as a
acoustic performer, and released an album in 2005 called Rian.
In 2007, Fiachna appears on
Belinda Carlisle's CD
Voila singing a duet with her on a cover of "Bonnie and Clyde".
The Hothouse Flowers appeared at the Glastonbury Festival Acoustic tent in
Fiachna and Dave have also branched out with a former member of
The Pogues to form a group called "Pre-Nup". They have recently opened some
shows in America for The Hothouse Flowers. An album by "Pre-Nup" called Hell to
Pay was released on 4 September 2007.
In late 2008 Liam O'Maonlai released his follow up album to "Rian". It is
entitled "To be Touched" and has received wide critical acclaim. He is currently
touring the album in between some one off shows with Hothouse Flowers.