Irish folk rockers Hothouse Flowers play at Tokyo’s Club Quattro on October 11 in what promises to be a brilliant celebration of the group’s 34th year in the music industry. Record-breaking albums, era-defining songs such as 1987’s “Don’t Go” and a drive and ambition to keep playing makes the Dubliners such an electric live act. Metropolis talked to the four piece before their trip to Tokyo.
Metropolis: Can you tell us a bit about your musical journey as a band (or individually)?
Hothouse Flowers: I started with my mother and father. My mother played piano and my father had a passion for our original culture, music and language. It was him who taught me the old songs. When I was young, I watched people playing piano and copied what I liked. I was nine when I met Fiachna and fourteen when I met Peter. We seemed to speak the language of music well, together.
M: What were some of your musical inspirations when you first began performing?
HF: Seán ó Riada was a genius. He re-ignited a deep awareness of our musical roots to us as Irish people.
M: How did your beginnings performing on the streets of Dublin affect your musical/creative journey?
HF: There was freedom there. Singing on the streets is far older than singing in the buildings that hang onto them. You get a real deep sense of feeling from that.
M: Your first album, People, was the most successful debut album in Irish music history, how did this massive achievement affect the band?
HF: It kept us very busy! It was exciting. But honestly, nothing is as exciting as performing a song and creating music that you know it’s the best it can be, all while living in the moment.
M: Your music is known for combining traditional Irish music with other genres and musical influences such as rock and soul. How does this affect the overall feel of your music as well as your creative process when producing your work?
HF: I believe all music comes from roots music. Rock and roll came from the riots of the black diaspora in the States, Ireland and the native rhythms of Turtle Island. I believe all music is somehow a response to our environment. The land, air and water, even each other.
M: What was it like playing at Fuji Rock this year?
HF: It was incredible, playing the heart of a beautiful forest with people who have their hearts open to music and the movements they represent. There was a monsoon happening while I played but people stayed to listen. I found that pretty moving – it’s what makes life worth living.
M: Is there any difference between playing as a band and playing with just three of the original members?
HF: Yes. There is a real sense of freedom when it’s just the three of us. We have an instinctive connection that is very clear.
M: What advice would you give to any upcoming musicians who are starting out in the industry now?
HF: Serve the music. Trust the music. Do not compromise the music to serve the business. The music has its own intelligence. Trust this. Trust your instincts. Good feelings and bad feelings, trust both of them.
M: Are you excited to perform in Japan? Does Japanese culture interest you?
HF: I am very interested by the way ancient traditions and architecture blend in with Japan’s contemporary nature, but I’m also interested in the music, the food and the new traditions in theatre and film. I also have a deep admiration for the martial arts. I love the erotic art of shunga (spring pictures) and the vocal style of Okinawa. I also love Ainu culture and the Jōmon legacy of art and peace. I am very excited to be back.
Shibuya Club Quattro
Tickets available here.