They began as buskers on the streets of Dublin, going by the unfortunate name of 'The Incomparable Benzini Brothers', but it wasn?t long before the re-named Hothouse Flowers were being billed as Ireland's next big thing. Gaining the attention of U2's Bono they went on to bloom with hits like 'Don?t Go', 'Give It Up', 'Have You Ever Seen The Rain' and 'Emotional Time'.
"It was a blast," grins the affable O Braonain down the line from the Irish capital.
"Looking back on it now my overriding sense of it is of a really exciting time full of adventure, full of fun. We were away for long periods of time and I suppose after a while, by the time it got to the early '90s it had become time to take a break for a while," he admits.
"But that period from the late '80s to the early '90s that was a great time, with amazing gigs, and we got to travel all over the place and we really got to establish ourselves all over the world as a band that's now in the fairly privileged position of continuing to tour and continuing to make a living at our own pace as well, which is kind of great."
That pace isn't all too leisurely though ? with touring and a new album on the horizon.
"Straight after the shows we're doing in South Africa we're heading straight for America and in June and July we're doing all these festivals in the UK like Glastonbury and Trowbridge," says the band's guitarist.
"Also, myself and Liam have started talking about doing a new record at some point over the summer, so hopefully we can get to work on that."
And then there are the solo projects: O Maonlai has recorded a solo album while O Braonain has formed Prenup with Hothouse Flowers drummer Dave Clarke and bassist Cait O Riordan of legendary Irish group the Pogues.
"What catalysed this new band is Cait heard some songs I was working on, and she encouraged me to do something with them and encouraged me to sing myself. So the next logical step was to ask her to play bass and get Dave to play drums. We decided to see if we could go and write some songs, so the three of us went over to a rehearsal room and spent a few days throwing a bunch of ideas together and we wrote lots of songs and we spent a matter of three or four days recording them all. So it all happened very quickly and very naturally."
"It's great to be able to start a new band when you're in your forties!" he laughs, heartily.
But this new band wasn?t formed because he felt restricted or disillusioned by the Flowers.
"Hothouse Flowers have always been a band that's difficult to pigeonhole in the sense that our music has such a broad appeal. There's very much a soul element and maybe a folk rock element, maybe or a celtic thing or whatever you might call it, as well as the Irish traditional aspect, and also the added interest in world music.
"So Hothouse Flowers has not been restricting in any way ? if anything in the past couple of years it's opened up my mind to doing other things, but in the context of the band."
Outside projects are simply a matter of practicality.
"The Hothouse Flowers have been together for 22 years now and we have still have a good time, and enjoy going out on tour and playing shows, but we're obviously not all together 100 percent of the time." O Maonlai, for example, still lives in Ireland while O Braonain has moved to Paris.
But despite the geographical separation the school buddies haven?t grown apart.
"Whenever I'm in Dublin, I call in to see Liam," says O Braonain, "or we're on the phone to each other. We?re always keeping up with what?s going on, not just from a work point of view but on a personal level. The work stuff takes care of itself, the personal stuff takes looking after.
"We're very much friends."
So what are the two friends and their bandmates looking forward to on their third trip to South Africa? "The last couple of times we've come over with just myself Liam and Peter, playing with some local musicians and I'm sure that's going to happen again even though we?re going to have Dave on drums and Kieran Kennedy playing bass now. I think it's going to be pretty wide open. There might be some collaboration, who knows? It depends who we meet at the airport," he laughs.
"So anything is possible. Hopefully the overriding factor will be three great shows with some great music."