A Conversation with Irish Indie Rock Sensation Inhaler

Irish rock band Inhaler decided to take a simpler approach with their second album Cuts and Bruises. compared to their previous work. “Cuts and Bruises” is filled with lilac instrumentals and honest lyricism that speaks to the devotion, heartbreak and sentimentality that comes along the way to fame. Behind the band’s enigmatic stage presence and elaborate production reminiscent of Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash are just four best friends — frontman and guitarist Elijah Hewson, bassist Robert Keating, guitarist Josh Jenkinson, and drummer Ryan McMahon — who are obsessed with Guinness beer. and cowboy hats.

Receiving praise from Louis Tomlinson, Noel Gallagher and Elton John, Inhaler’s artistry has grown since releasing their very first single “I Want You” back in 2017. Despite the band’s recent success – topping the Irish album charts and generating over 1.7 million monthly listeners on Spotify – one thing is still determined: The inhaler is just getting started.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

WSNQ: After releasing your latest album, how do you feel about getting back on the road?

Elijah Hewson: I am excited. This year we have more people on the tour and less space on the bus, so it will be interesting. But I think it’s just a great opportunity to see different things and meet new people anyway, it gives you that extra boost of enthusiasm you need to get through hangovers and long drives.

WSN: Are you still nervous before performances or are you already used to the stage?

Ryan McMahonA: It depends on the gig – where you are and the size of it. I mean, we found that at home gigs in Dublin we were probably more nervous than usual. Everyone you’ve ever known is there and your family is there, so you can’t get away with being or trying to be cooler than you really are. They will inform you about it later.

WSNA: What makes a good job? What makes you think “I just killed it!”

Elijah: [Laughs] This rarely happens.

Ryan: If the audience is jumping up and down, pretending to be having a good time, but you feel like you’ve put on a shitty performance, you’re kind of like, “Well, everyone else seems to like it, so it’s cool.”

Elijah: When we feel that we have done really well, there is no disagreement. At camp, when you’re done, everyone just nods to each other, like, “Yeah, that was serious. It was crap, you know?

If it’s not, then I’ve definitely walked off the stage a couple of times and said, “I dropped it at that point, I kind of messed it up or something.” But there are nights when we all feel super in unison and everyone just floats down the lanes. But this is rare. I think that everyone can feel that we all succeeded, you know.

BSS: For this upcoming show, fans lined up around 5am. What’s it like when you guys walk up to the venue and you already see a line around the block?

RyanA: I just hope they have enough water. It’s very hot here today. I mean, we were still struggling to come to terms and accept that people would be waiting outside at 5am just to watch us play for an hour and 10 or 20 minutes. Our fans are some of the nicest people we’ve ever met. They are also very, very funny. We are happy to be able to say that this is part of our job or what we do for a living.

Elijah: I envy them because it’s such a sense of community, it just seems like everyone is really nice to each other. It’s just nice that we can contribute to something like this, although we never imagined it would ever happen with our music and stuff. It is an honor. Indeed, this is insane.

WSN: Rob, I did some digging and found that you have a Spotify playlist called Songs from Home. It got me thinking about everything you have to give up to go on tour. Could you talk a little about the mental, physical and emotional preparation it takes to be away from home for such a long time?

Robert Keating: When we are at home, we just switch off. I don’t think we’re necessarily doing anything specifically to prepare for the tour. It’s more than just doing nothing, so we just spend time with family and friends without going anywhere. And when I’m at home, I really do so little. It’s almost pathetic. I just watch TV and go for a walk. But when you’re on tour it’s the other way around because you do something every single day. Your weekends are in new places, so then you spend your weekends walking and stuff. I think it’s just an opportunity to relax when you have free time.

WSN: You often hear a lot about these famous artists who have been musical prodigies since they were five years old. In other interviews, you talked a bit about picking up your instruments a little later. Have you experienced any feelings of impostor syndrome?

Elijah: I think the three of us kind of learned to play our instruments at the same time, because we’ve been together since we were 13, except that Josh joined us when we were 16. Before that, it was just hopeless it was tragic.

When Josh joined us, I think there was something like a rock, and then we could hide better. It was like his game was so great compared to ours that we all just picked it up. And even though we’ve been playing for so many years, we haven’t made that much progress. We faked it and I think we still fake it, really. Some of us had lessons when we were kids, but it’s only when your passion for the instrument really ignites that you start.

WSN: Josh, you’re like the glue of the band. Can you talk about how it was from your point of view?

Josh Jenkinson: To be honest, when I joined us, we started doing more shows. I think when you’re playing live, if you can’t play it just doesn’t happen. Playing gigs every day helps, because in the end you just get better. But I definitely think we weren’t good until 2019. I would say that’s when we started playing really well as a band. Before that, we were all just studying, and then everything coincided, and it was nice. But I definitely don’t think I was glue.

Elijah: You were.

WSN: I would like to switch a bit to talk about your new album “Cuts and Bruises”. How does this project, in your opinion, differ from your debut?

Elijah: The only thing we said about this album is that we wanted to give the songs a little more air. Whether it was adding less information to the mix, less recording, or trying to spend less time on things, it all made a big difference. Through the lyrics, we wanted to tell a little more of an honest story about where we’ve been. The album has become a little more realistic, I think. The first album was very idealistic, joyful and daring – it had loud statements and a feeling of youth. This one feels a little more, I don’t know, grown up. We feel like we’ve matured a bit.

WSN: What was the hardest song on the album for you?

Elijah: It was “When I Have Her on My Mind” because Josh had a really good riff. I won’t say it’s unbelievable because he’s going to hate me, but he had a really good riff and we played it at sound check on the last US tour. Then in the studio we just had to find a song that was as good as the riff. I think we got there in the end, but I still think the riff is definitely the main feature of this song – it’s very catchy and all. It took a lot of experimentation. Of course, it was a little dizzying. To be honest, we were still composing it right down to the mixing.

WSN: In the songwriting process, what kind of vulnerability do you guys need to make music as a band?

Elijah: Lots of vulnerability.

Ryan: You must be almost completely vulnerable, especially if you go on stage every night in front of a bunch of people. This is probably the most vulnerable situation anyone can ever find themselves in. I think you need to leave a lot of your ego at the door when you’re trying to make the best song possible.

FSU: I have a question for Josh. Since the alternative and rock genres are predominantly white male dominated, how important is it for you to be a black musician aiming for mainstream rock success?

Josh: Kele Okereke from Bloc Party inspired me a lot to want to make music because I thought, “Oh cool. He kind of looks like me, so I could do it.” I hope people think the same way about me and say, “Oh, this guy is kind of like me, and maybe one day I can do it.”

I try not to think about it because I don’t think many people pay attention to it. But if I got one person to start playing guitar or playing in a band, that would mean the world to me.

Inhaler will perform in New York at the Manhattan Center Hammerstein Ballroom. March 17.

Contact Ari Russell at [email protected]

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