The first seeds of the band known as the HotHouse Flowers were sewn in 1983/1984 while Liam was lodging in the Scot household. Fiona took a message from Fiachna suggesting the formation of a blues/jazz/soul ensemble. The plan being to enter the annual music festival called Slogadh (Parade).
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Both Fiachna and Liam had competed many times, and had enjoyed the blissful weeks of getting acquainted with the wilds of Ireland, internal and external. Young Musicians would gather and play together from all over. The only stipulation being that all performance dealing with words should be done through Irish or Gaelic. Fiachna had the use of a Hoffner semi-electric guitar at the time. Liam depended on the hall or school to supply a piano.
The line up of the first two heats at that time was Liam O'Maonlai, (Piano + Vocals), Fiachna O'Braonain (Guitar + Vocals), Con Weber (Clarinet + Vocals), Colm O'Ciosog (Drums), David Roe (Silver Flute). Con Weber was also a serious force in the formation of the band let it be said. Colm O'Ciosog was active with the band My Bloody Valentine who had a lucrative recording and performing career.
Con Weber is now a devoted father Playwright and Director. Eamon O'hOisin was in Liam's class at school and was to remain friends with him after they both left 'Colaiste Eoin'. He and Liam would both fantasize about a band/soul revue something like the live shows of Kid Creole and the Coconuts.
Eamon was studying in Trinity College Dublin while Liam was fronting as a student there. "I had no motivation in the academic way.…," Liam is noted as having said. However he enjoyed the social implications of hanging around the arts block, day after day often discussing Jamaican Culture, Thai culture, or even Lebanese culture with like-minded Thespians.
Back to the band. Eamon O'hOisin observed this formation with calm exhilaration. He suggested they take on his then girlfriend Maria Doyle as a singer. So it was that Maria arrived at Waltham Terrace in a sequined blue dress, she had Charisma and a voice that held these lusty bachelors in a spell. She lead the band at the All Ireland Final, of the festival, at Ennis. The performance had Magic and Liam new he had found his road.
Marie and Eamon go to London. Liam has to repeat his exams (oh them). While on his own, he is eager to get on with the music. He earns pocket money by performing lunchtime Traditional Irish concerts in Trinity Junior Common Room every day. The band was then called 'an Fonn Tonn ' which means the sound wave. The style had a backbone of blues with some ragtime colourings. And what ever else was handy. Tim Buckley was having a strong influence on Liam at the time. The next September Eamon set Liam up with a music room in Trinity where he and Maria wrote a number of songs. 'Falling for you,' and 'if you left me,' were two that took hold.
Fiachna was in U.C.D studying Law at the time and was doing quite well. He also enjoyed the social stage and the opportunity to model his grey suit. This was the beginning of a two year long era for him. The guitar he bought was a 'Fernandez Strato Castor' Ivory Coloured. Liam and Fiachna began meeting in Waltham Terrace again to keep the fire burning. One night John Paul Tamsey joined them on drums.
So with Piano, guitar, and Drums, the three started jamming on some grooves together in the front room of a 200 year old house with a grand piano, piles of books, paintings, and antiques. Fiachna took pleasure in experimenting with where to put the tape recorder to achieve the best balance.
Fiachna's Mother's car was the mode of transport and had the best sounding system. Maria came to Waltham Terrace when she could. One such day was Saturday. Eamon rang and said that the Sunday nightspot at the Magic Carpet lounge was free, could we be ready for 'Saturday night'. Yes they said and proceeded to commit some ideas to song. By Saturday evening they had an hour and half show put together. Next, blitz the town. Find all their friends tell them to come and bring your friends. Sunday nerves, a few beers, a communal jar of brilcream.
The name of the band was still to be finalised. Show time the lights come up and start flashing disco style. The beat starts up. They push their way through the set, had one break, and finished at around 10.30. It was pretty terrible but something was there. Something brought them back the next week with some friends. The third week was Easter Sunday, more again and a familiar silhouette proved the rumour that Phil Lynott was indeed coming to gig with his cousin Monica. The gig happened.
On Pembroke Street, off Baggot Street, there was a pub called the Pembroke Inn. It was here that Liam and Eamon decided to start up the Chicken Club. Rafiq and Asmal would spin the sounds in between acts, that Liam would have recruited during the week. The Chicken Club was set in a basement with the stage on the dancefloor facing the bar. On each side of the stage were tables that lit up with opaque coloured glass tops. All sorts came, Lawyers, Criminals, Jazz heads, Poets, Priests, Artists, and even Nuns.
All sorts rubbed shoulders there. The line up of Flowers would end the night, usually a Tuesday night and everyone went home happy. A new addition to the band was Michan Walker on bass. He had the stax style mixed with a deep respect for country and a permanent grin, not to mention unbelievably long eyelashes. Sadly however he was called away to the 'Cooper Union College,' in New York to study art. The band begged him to change his mind but he had plans and that was that.
On the side Michan had been working on a house with Peter O'Toole and while taking down the 17th floorboard he asked Peter if he would replace him on bass. And so Peter was in. He just played bass lines on an ordinary electric at first, after that he obtained his own bass and that was that.
A year later John Paul was gone to New York to start a career in film. Jeremiah from Cork came in on drums. One night Peter was in the Bailey trying to steal someone's drink when he discovered it was Leo Barnes and they got to talk about music. What's in the box? Peter said "a Saxophone," said "Leo,".
The next day the rest of the bands were in mixing two new songs. Leo came in and played like a bird off the top. It was beautiful. Liam asked Leo "do you drink Leo," Leo looked Liam in between the eyes and said "a lot ". So Liam knew there was Sax. Leo was also playing in Rob Strongs band long before the commitments were even thought of. Rob's son Andrew was the singer in the film. Marie Doyle Kennedy went on to play a role in the film as well.
Colm, Liam's brother rang Leeson Street to say that he had entered the two of them into the street entertainer of the year award in front of Bewleys on Grafton Street. They won and got a cut glass bowl as a prize. A guy called Liam Nolan had them on the radio, followed by a Late Late show appearance for Gay Byrne. All this along with a demo of 'love don't work this way,' brought them to the attention of Bono. Bono called a meeting with Fiachna and Liam to offer any help he could and/or some advice from his experience. For some reason two other guys who were competing to manage the band came in as well.
He got the tape to Bono, and it was after that Bono contacted the band. A short while later Lorcan brought Liam, Fiachna, Jean Paul, Maria and Peter to the snug in Kehoes Bar, to put to them his case. He had on his best clothes. He had washed his hair. And so the Hothouse agreed to have Lorcan Ennis as their new manager. After another round they all piled back to Lorcan's flat to look at the Budgies. There among the Budgies was Robbie Wootten. Everybody listened. Not everybody agreed. But almost everybody so that was enough to get it going.
Terry O'Neill was famous around the Warehouse rehearsal Studio for having once managed Thin Lizzy or Skid Row or members of both. He was also involved with Moving Hearts which was impressive. Another man involved with Moving Hearts was Norman Verso, Lorcan and Robbie introduced the band to Norman, and so began the Vegetarian era.
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