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Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Inhaler

Interview: 2020 Must-Know - Inhaler

"Well, I wanna be the best at what I do / Oh, what about you? What about you?" propose Dublin band Inhaler in early release, 'It Won't Always Be Like This' - a bold declaration from the four-piece who have already proved with a string of successive singles that they are serious about a victorious endgame.

Vocalist Elijah Hewson (yes his dad is Paul Hewson a.k.a. Bono of U2; no he does not ask him for music-related advice), along with school friends Robert Keating (bass) and Ryan McMahon (drums), and poached guitarist Josh Jenkinson are a tight unit, focused on building a reputation as a formidable live act. Hewson says of his first impressions of meeting each of his bandmates: "I met Ryan our drummer, because he was another metal head and he was into Led Zeppelin and all that kind of stuff. So we bonded straight away and just started playing guitar and drums together. We were like the two weirdos. Rob was the pretty boy in school. He was the new kid. He was quite shy in the beginning but we made friends and we put him on the bass. And Josh was this otherworldly super cool dude from another school who we heard was sick at guitar. So we just robbed him from another band. I think we're all very different individually, but we just have really, really strange but special friendship bonds that are driving this band."

MUST-LISTEN: 'Ice Cream Sundae', 'It Won't Always Be Like This', 'My Honest Face'.
YOU WILL LIKE, IF YOU LIKE: Catfish And The Bottlemen, Sam Fender, Ten Tonnes, Circa Waves, The Vaccines, Declan McKenna... and forming a band with your childhood best friends.

COUP DE MAIN: "I'm in the pursuit of happiness," you say in 'Ice Cream Sundae', which is a very universally relatable feeling. Is that pursuit never-ending? Do you think that once you achieve or obtain things that you think will make you happy, it's in human nature never to be satisfied?
Definitely. The whole song is about trying to get somewhere, and then how easy it is to lose it. Just the natural process of life involves losing things, but that's what builds your character, and it's just a part of life. I think that's why it's relatable.

CDM: What does true happiness mean to you?
True happiness? Playing a gig at The Button Factory in Dublin! <laughs> Being in a band really - just that people are singing our words and want to come see us and that I get to do what I love.

CDM: In 'It Won’t Always Be Like This' you say, "Well, I wanna be the best at what I do / Oh, what about you? What about you?" It's uncool to be unashamedly ambitious, but do you think it's an important step to being successful in any career? Just fully owning that you want to be the best?
Definitely. If you look at Oasis, they weren't the greatest band in the world, but then they said, "We are the greatest band in the world," and then people believed it. It's all about the way you carry yourself. And confidence is a massive, massive part of it.
CDM: Fake it 'til you make it...
Exactly. You got to believe in what you're doing, even if it doesn't matter. I could say, "We're the best band in the world," because we're not. I'm not concerned by anybody else at this moment in time, I'm thinking about our band and our band only. That's just the way to do it.

CDM: What was running through your mind while writing 'My Honest Face'?
Lots and lots of different personalities. That song is definitely about finding who you are as a performer and what you want to say. And I think when we wrote that song, we definitely didn't know who we were, and we didn't know what we wanted to say. That song has got a lot of anxious, nervous energy to it. And I think that definitely relates to how it comes across - if the song was a person, it comes across as a person who's lost and doesn't know what they want to do and doesn't know who they want to be. But, it's like you said, you just got to fake it 'til you make it and believe in yourself until you find your feet and your voice.

CDM: Do you feel like you guys know who you are as a band now?
Definitely not, no. Definitely not! We're still going through puberty, let alone learning how to play our instruments. <laughs> We keep changing every couple of weeks. We're still learning and we haven't found it yet. I don't think we ever want to find a place where we can sit and be comfortable because I think that is the enemy of work.

CDM: How long have you been together as a band now?
We've been friends for longer than we've been in the band. We've been friends a long time, since we were 13 - so that's six years ago. But we've been a band properly for about two and a half years.

CDM: 'I Want You' is the first official Inhaler song you released online right? Why did you decide to begin with that song?
We recorded that song because we came up with it at school, just to see if we could create something together, and if it was any good. We just recorded it ourselves, put it out on one of those digital distribution things, and just kind of pushed it out there to see what we get back. And at the time I thought that was our greatest achievement, but looking back on it, it we've definitely changed somewhat since then. But I think that keeping it up is important. It's important for people to see we've come so far since that point, and our sound has developed ridiculously, and that's how it was. It's an interesting one, because we don't play it live anymore. But we love it. It was the first song that we saw people singing the words back to us, and that was what started it really. That song started it all for us.

CDM: How does the Inhaler songwriting process work?
It mainly consists of around four people bashing each other's heads in until something comes out.

CDM: Do you write your lyrics specifically for the songs, or do you write poems or prose and then evolve them into song-form?
Definitely specifically for the song. When we all write music, it's kind of like a big therapy session, and then the words come later. But I am starting to explore lyricism a lot more. When you're on tour, you're hearing things, like you might hear something in an ad or someone might say something to you that perks your ear up that you can relate to, and you just write a few of them in a notebook and then those lines will be used later in a song, or one line could lead to an entire song. There's no cemented process to it.

CDM: Lyrically, what's your favourite song that you’ve written?
Of the ones that are out? 'There's No Other Place' which is the B-side of 'My Honest Face', that song, when I was writing it, it kind of felt like it had fallen out of the sky. All the words just came off. It's a battle to write songs, but that song just felt very easy. It's about the love of being a performer and wanting to be up there and wanting to be with the people in the crowd and have a connection and create something special.
CDM: That song has a lot of emotional weight to it.
Yeah, it does. It feels very immediate.

CDM: What is your very first earliest music-related memory?
It's funny because I wasn't really into music until I was about 12 or 13. I didn't really have any time for it and I just thought it was uncool. I'd listen to the hits or whatever was on the radio, but I wasn't involved in at all. I think I started to get into heavy metal when I was about 13, like Motörhead and all that stuff, and I think being introduced to that mad rage and anger in music... I'd been used to hearing whoever was on the radio that time, Rihanna, and it didn't connect with me. But then discovering The Smashing Pumpkins and Motörhead, grunge and Nirvana, it was instant; you connect to that feeling. And you don't get that feeling in any other music than rock and roll.

CDM: At what age did you write your very first song ever, and what was it about?
The very first song, we wrote together because I'd never written a song on my own. And we wrote 'Ice Cream Sundae' and 'I Want You'. They came out at the same time, but I think it might have been 'Ice Cream Sundae' first. Me and Robert, our bass-player, we were in a music shop in Dublin and we started playing Beatles songs. We got into a little booth and were just trying out guitars, and then we ended up writing a song. We had never written a song before in our lives. And it was just kind of one of those things where we came out with a verse and a chorus, and then yeah, that was 'Ice Cream Sundae'. That was mad.

CDM: Do you have upcoming plans to release an EP or album?
Yeah, we're definitely gonna get an album out in 2020 for sure. That's the goal. We just have a lot of material we want people to hear. Hopefully, we'll get over to New Zealand sometime.
CDM: I was gonna ask about that next! I want to see 'Another Like You' live, it seems like fun.
Thank you very much. You've done your research. I think we're planning to come over to Australia in August, so it would be around that time, I'd say. There's no definite plan, but we're looking to travel the world this year, for sure.

CDM: On your album, are you going to include songs that you've been playing live like 'Cheer Up Baby', 'My King Will Be Kind', 'A Night On The Floor', etc?
Right now, that's the plan. Actually all of those that you mentioned, we're playing all of them tonight. But yeah, they'll definitely be on the album. Definitely.

CDM: If you were a country, what would be your national anthem?
'Dirty Old Town'.

CDM: If I.N.H.A.L.E.R. were an acronym, what would each letter stand for?
Oh, that's a tough one. I'd say...
I - indecisive.
N - new
H - hallelujah  
A - arseholes
L  - loose,
E - [be] energetic.
R - rock and roll

CDM: Inhaler are one of our 'must-know’ artist picks for 2020… who are yours?
Thank you so much. There's a great band who we are taking on tour in February, called Feet, from the UK. It's just really raucous indie rock and roll, which is great. So check that out.

CDM: And what’s on the Inhaler bucket-list?
We want to play Glastonbury this year, and we want to make it to New Zealand.

Watch the 'It Won't Always Be Like This' music video below...

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