Lewis Evans

Inhaler on ‘Cuts & Bruises,’ Their Buzzing Music Scene, & Emulating Nirvana

Theatre of Living Arts, Philadelphia, March 16. Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City, March 17. Be there to watch the latest, greatest pop rock band unravel.

Inhaler have put out another collection of honest and raw tunes on a record called Cuts & Bruises. The Irish foursome (guitarist and vocalist Elijah Hewson, bassist Robert Keating, drummer Ryan McMahon, and guitarist Josh Jenkinson) formed in early 2015, quickly making pop rock music after meeting at St. Andrew’s in Blackrock, Dublin. 

Their first album, 2021’s It Won’t Always Be Like This, garnered heat overseas, but didn’t immediately catch attention stateside, but they’ve grown and so has their sound. Their time is now. With another set of punchy love songs and tunes based on tour life and experiences since their debut, that statement is true. Inhaler has worked for the now, building on their own reputation to become the next great rock band.

We know that this group has had a busy few years blending alternative sounds with pop melodies and raunchy riffs – that sound is what caught the attention of Kings of Leon and Arctic Monkeys, both of which they ended up touring with. They also played a set at the coveted Glastonbury fest, as well. Hewson, the lead singer for Inhaler and whose father is considered true rock royalty, is clearly carving his own path in music alongside his talented bandmates, and it’s been not too bumpy of a ride thus far. Like the greats of the business, hard work pays off, so Inhaler is rolling full stream ahead in the same classic, yet genre-bending vein of INXS, Dashboard Confessional, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and U2. (The latter being Hewson’s father’s band… yes, his father is Bono.)

Cuts & Bruises is already being considered one of the greatest rock releases of recent, but that’s what Inhaler set out to make due to pressure to follow up It Won’t Always Be Like This. “We knew we wanted to make a better record than the first one. We wanted to make sure to improve on the first time instead of doing something radically different. We wanted to put less lyrical content and let the songs breathe a little bit more,” Hewson tells us via Zoom. 

The singer continues, sharing about what new music brings to a live show – for both them and the audience. “To be honest, our first album did very well, but if we stopped making albums, it’d be sad. We had some tough times in the studio getting stuff done – it’s obviously not as fun as being out on the road making the audience dance. I think with having these new songs in the set has made it seem like it’s nice to have this fresh slate and introduce new songs to people, so we will always be making records.”

Some of those new songs “Love Will You Get You There,” “These Are The Days,” and “Dublin in Ecstasy” have taken a very big liking to the crowds who come to their shows in US. “‘If You’re Gonna Break My Heart’ was our big song for a while and it’s nice to have some things that trump that. It’s refreshing to see,” Hewson says.

Inhaler has been playing together for almost a decade, and, for better or for worse, it’s almost unheard of these days for new bands to stick together for that length of time.  “We have played music for 10 years now,” the frontman explains. “Having that bond means that it goes deeper for the band. We are invested in each other [personally] and that’s what keeps us going.”

Robert Keating adds, “I think people buy into relationships a lot more with musicians and bands in general. I think when people feel like someone is authentic and being quite true to themselves, that translates quite well, so there is definitely an advantage to being friends firstly then just being in a band.”

The four-piece is growing up in the social media age, so feedback is immediate. However, they respond equally to the reviews they see about themselves. “We try to read a healthy balance of the negative and positive reviews,” says Keating.

“We would take it as a stranger on the street! We think it’s interesting – it gives a lot of strength as an artist to listen to criticism and praise,” notes Hewson. “You can’t believe the one without the other.”

On the topic of going out, getting feedback, and meeting people, the tour supporting this new album is gaining speed since kicking off in Texas on March 6. “On this particular tour, we have gotten the sense that people really know our band now. Each night the audience is going crazy to the new songs. It’s a really nice feeling to see that something new is resonating with people in a different way than our first album, but all still connecting,” McMahon remarks.. 

Inhaler, with two LPs to their name, is officially part of a new wave of alternative and a modern rock movement out of the UK that is really starting to resonate all over. “You can hear real drums and guitars with musicians like Sam Fender, and even Harry Styles to an extent. You can hear alternative and indie inspirations in their music, the music out of [the UK],” Hewson explains. Fontaines D.C. and Idles are just two other bands in that world that are breaking the mold on a bigger scale, and this band is next. This scene that they’re in has a rock and roll spirit down to its core, but its molded to feel a bit like pop. That is what Inhaler is all about.

“It’s a lot different than it was 10 years ago when we first got together. Arctic Monkeys are very rock and roll. It’s quite pop, but it felt like rock and roll, then it went to No. 1 everywhere. I think the scene is really buzzing, though, and I don’t know if it’s because we are more part of it than we have ever been.

“I feel like it’s an answer to the overproduced, same-kind-of-sound-on-the-radio stuff that’s really what is going on. We still love pop music. Our goal as a band is to make pop music that is authentic to us and what we believe in, just like what The Beatles and Nirvana did. We are definitely hearing a lot more rock elements in pop music, which is great, and we’re part of that,” concludes Hewson.