If Eli Hewson’s dad was a bus driver, Inhaler would still be one of Ireland’s best bands
Eddie Rowley catches up with Inhaler as they get set to release their superb new album, Cuts & Bruises
He's Bono’s son, but if Eli Hewson’s dad was a bus driver, the band he fronts with his pals would still be one of the most exciting new groups to come out of Ireland in recent times.
Watching them in action at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre before Christmas, they were fully-fledged rock stars powered by the energy from a highly-charged young audience who probably couldn’t care less that their favourite new band has a U2 connection.
The lads have also served their time on the live circuit, touring up and down UK and American motorways and highways old-style in the back of a van.
“Oh, those were the days,” Rob Keating laughs when Shuffle catches up with Inhaler as they get set to release their superb new album, Cuts & Bruises.
“We travelled across America in a van in 2019 and that was probably one of our favourite tours that we’ve ever done because it was just the most stripped down.
“And it was probably one of the smelliest tours that we’ve ever done as there were very few shower accesses on that trip.
“But some of the greatest memories we have is those band journeys because you are experiencing everything for the first time and you’re seeing America for the first time. It was like all the stories that you read about, or watched on documentaries growing up, finally coming true.”
Having met them at the start of their career, Inhaler, who will also support Harry Styles at Slane Castle this June 10, are a lot more seasoned these days. “Can you tell by looking at our eyes,” Eli says. “It’s funny, we were looking at some pictures of us only from a year ago and saying,’ I don’t know who that person is anymore.’ We were definitely a lot more babyface this time last year.”
Last year, Inhaler ticked a huge box when they played the iconic Glastonbury festival in the UK. That was the most nervous we’ve ever been for a gig in our lives because it’s Glastonbury, it carries a huge weight, so that was a nerve-racking gig,” Eli says.
“That whole experience on that weekend overall is something that we’ll always think back on. We played Glastonbury on the Friday, we played our biggest ever Dublin show on the Saturday (Fairview Park), we supported Kings of Leon on the Sunday and we were kind of like, ‘how is this our life now? How did we get to support a band we all grew up loving and admiring as musicians and songwriters, as well as playing Glastonbury?’ It was a real moment in our band’s life, one of the pinnacles of our lives outside of just being musicians.”
Inhaler have got a ferocious work ethic and Eli concedes that it’s partly fuelled by their belief that they have more to prove because of the U2 connection, or what he describes as “the elephant in the room.”
“We are a very ambitious group,” Eli tells me.” I think in the beginning we wanted to work twice as hard as the next guy because of that whole connection, the elephant in the room and all that with our parents. We still have that, but I think it’s maybe not to do with that anymore now. I think it’s just that we’re all really ambitious. We really care about what we do. I think people maybe thought we were doing it as a hobby, but it’s a lifeline for us.”
While Eli admits that “a few tambourines were probably thrown” in the making of their new album, Inhaler are a tight, grounded bunch.
“You kind of think being in a band is go crazy, go out and drink loads, do all the rock star things, but we’re really not like that,” he adds. “People say to us, these are the best years of being in a band and we really just want to take it in.”
THE new Inhaler album, Cuts & Bruises, is out next Friday.
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