As they get set to release their first album It Won’t Always Be Like This, Elijah Hewson, Josh Jenkinson, Robert Keating and Ryan McMahon tell the Sunday World how they’ve been enjoying the climb.
The young Dubs have already served their apprenticeship by touring in a van, hauling their own gear into venues and even sleeping on people’s couches as they struggled to make a name for themselves.
“I think some of the most fun days of being in a band are when you’re starting out and you’re driving yourselves around the country doing odd gigs in odd places, meeting odd characters, and there’s not too much pressure because you’re just kind of figuring it out,” drummer Ryan explains.
Lead singer Elijah agrees. “It really was just us back then,” he says. “Probably one of our favourite tours was before we even had management and we did a couple of shows with The Academic around Ireland. We were meeting the weirdest people at the shows. We had Airbnbs cancelled and we ended up sleeping on people’s couches.
“It definitely made us closer as a group and showed us the ropes early on. We were young, people were trying to get one up on us, so learning the ropes early was important.
“It’s important for any band to experience those sorts of things. It built character as a band. We’ll always have that grounding, which is very important to us.”
Despite the fact that Elijah is the son of U2’s Bono, Inhaler didn’t turn to the godfathers of rock for help along the way and they do their best to distance themselves from the Irish legends.
“We know what needs to be done,” Ryan says. “There has to be hard work put in because that’s going to benefit the music. We’ve seen our favourite bands over the years doing it.
“We had interest from certain managerial types and people wanting to get their hands involved in the early days, but we just said, ‘look, we’re not interested and we’re not ready. We just want to build our band from the ground up right now.’ And it was really, really important that we did that.”
Having fended for themselves on the early tours, Inhaler say they learned to appreciate the work of roadies and stage crew, and now have their own little team.
“Road crews don’t get the recognition that they deserve. There would be no tours, no gigs, no festivals, nothing without roadies and road crews. It’s the artist’s job to get on stage and entertain, but that can’t be done without a road crew.
“Doing the shows ourselves definitely opened up our eyes to that. I remember when we met our tour manager for the first time after we’d done a couple of tours — his name is Gary and he used to be in a band called The Bandits from Liverpool — and we thought it was crazy that he would clean our guitars and even change our strings!”
Inhaler were on the highway to the super league when Covid-19 shut down the world of live entertainment.
“It definitely was a shock to us,” Elijah admits. “To be honest, I think we were one of the lucky ones because we held our album back as we hadn’t released it yet. There were a lot of bands who had just released their debut album before it happened and I’d say that could feel more devastating.
“But it was a dramatic shift for us going from being in a different city every day with your best mates and our crew — one big family on a bus — to then come home and not be able to leave the front door of your house because you didn’t know what was in the air.
“It was a really scary thing, but it forced us to be creative and then we came up with better songs. Half the album was written in the first lockdown, so we created a better record than we perhaps would have done a year and a half ago.
“We’re lucky because we’re young enough to actually go back and live with our parents when we came off tour. Luckily we could then go back into our childhood rooms and write music and just think about the album and have that ahead of us. I think if you are just working in the live music sector it was incredibly daunting at times. Our crew on the road haven’t worked since March of last year.”
While all four are involved in the songwriting process, Josh chips in to say that Elijah is the creative genius when it comes to the lyrics.
“I don’t know what it is, but he’s got some weird genes, he’s unbelievable at writing songs,” he says. “We’ve all kind of collectively learned from that and been bouncing off him, each getting better every day because we just push each other to do that.”