Dublin band Inhaler is out with their debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This, which dropped July 9. The alternative indie-rock sound is intricate and catchy— one that you’ll want to blast in the car with the windows down. The band produces in the same realm as The Black Keys and The Strokes, making this album one for the alternative rock fans.
American Songwriter sat down with lead singer and guitarist, Elijah Hewson, and drummer, Ryan McMahon, to chat about the release of the new album.
American Songwriter: Tell me about your debut album.
Eli Hewson: We wrote some of [it] when we were like 17 and then started to gig and tour. We were going to release the album last August. And it was funny because it kind of felt like more of like a compilation of singles, just because that’s the way we were recording. We were coming off tour and going into the studio, recording the next song and then just getting out. It took us a while to kind of realize that the pandemic wasn’t going to end anytime soon. We just decided to start writing promotional materials overnight to the point where the songs were really up-tempo. But I think we became a lot more mid-tempo as human beings, and I think we’re really grateful for it in a selfish way…. the great contrast. And so I think that was kind of our way of contrasting in the tempo side of things and showing just what we were looking forward to doing when our lives get back to normal.
AS: In some ways, you felt like some of your album was escapism, and some of it was reflecting on the current state of the world?
EH: Yeah it’s true, through a lot of the lyrical content. When we were teenagers we were writing songs you write about what was more immediate. You write about where you were last night or the girl you had a crush on; all that good stuff. And you know, coming of age kind of stuff. Then we’re done [growing up, and the pandemic set in] and we just sobered up a lot more as human beings and kind of realized that the band may be in jeopardy. I mean, people forget, at the start of the pandemic, people were really scared. People didn’t know how long it’s gonna last.
Ryan McMahon: Yeah. I think it was just very intense and overwhelming for you. Just a bit of a bad trip really. Felt surreal, and I think that definitely kind of seeped its way into the lyrics. And we started talking about broader things in the world around us. The album is kind of the two halves of Inhaler. It’s like, the pre-grown-up Inhaler and like after corona, and I think they’re not too different… but I definitely think that there’s a different feeling to both sides.
AS: Do you have a favorite track or a favorite couple of tracks that really that you could talk about?
EH: The track on the album, “My Honest Face,” is such a different feel that our fans probably felt before. I’m excited for people to hear that, and we’re excited to play it live. It’ll be interesting just to see people’s reaction. Usually, when we have new songs, we like to play them live and get a visual reaction from people. You can tell if they get up to go for a drink, or they get up to go to the toilet, and if they don’t like it, that sort of thing. So we didn’t really have that. And it kind of allowed us to be a little bit more experimental, in what we were making. So I’m excited for that.
AS: That kind of disconnect was almost freeing for you guys in a weird way, and so it just gave you the courage to try things you hadn’t done before?
EH: Yeah, I think when you’re on tour, you’re a bit disconnected anyway, so it wasn’t really anything too new. But I think definitely we didn’t have that experience of being on stage and that energy. So when we went to write music, we were writing stuff that was based around our surroundings, and we were all sitting in the same room every day for days. It was this feeling of being really really immobile and, and just dreaming about being somewhere else.
AS: How was the process of getting this all recorded and working together during this past year?
EH: Very complicated, yeah. It was difficult to kind of get our heads around because we had to make music videos as well. It’s a really hard thing to do when there’s COVID restrictions, and we can’t leave the country and there’s quarantine and all this kind of thing. So we actually ended up making a music video on Zoom entirely. And that was a fun experience. It was hard, but also rewarding because we were kind of winning against the lockdown. But, we’re musicians, and we like to have a crowd there to cheer us on.
RM: And there was a lot of our own instincts that we have to trust when it came to finishing songs in the actual studio, because we didn’t go into the new songs that were written during lockdown, and none of them were finished before we went into the studio. So it was trying to finish them there. And trust our instincts with how good the song was, and that was something new that we had to accept and adapt to. Because we’d always judge songs on how good they were based off of the reaction. So it was down to a lot of bickering, blood, sweat, and tears, a lot of mixing, just to try and get the album sounding as great as we all wanted it to be. And that that was the biggest reward that I think that we took from the experience.
AS: After lockdown, can we expect to see maybe a tour from you guys?
EH: Oh, God, yeah. I think we’re booked up for the next 20 years of our life! Playing eight-hour shows a night. Which I need to get fit for! For a whole tour booked for very start at the very end, we’re dying for. We can’t wait.
RM: For now, we’re just having fun up a minute with writing these new songs. You know, we’re being a little bit more experimental, and we’re just testing the waters with how far we can go with songs at the minute. We will no doubt eventually be testing them out live. Because like I said, that’s what we’re used to doing.
You can listen to Inhaler test out some of their tunes live on their upcoming tour & hear the new album It Won’t Always Be Like This here now.
See below for a complete list of 2021/22 North American tour dates:
Sept. 12 – Nashville, High Watt at @mercylounge
Sept. 13 – Chicago, IL Schubas
Sept. 16 – New York, NY Mercury Lounge
Sept. 20 – Los Angeles, CA Troubadour
March 4 – Atlanta, GA Terminal West
March 5 – Nashville, TN The Basement East
March 7 – Washington DC 9:30 Club
March 8 – Philadelphia, PA Theatre Of Living Arts
March 10 – New York, NY Irving Plaza
March 11 – Brooklyn, NY Warsaw
March 12 – Boston, MA Royale
March 14 – Toronto, ON Phoenix Concert Theatre
March 15 – Detroit, MI St Andrews Hall
March 17 – Chicago, IL House Of Blues
March 18 – Milwaukee, WI Rave II
March 19 – Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
March 21 – Denver, CO Summit Music Hall
March 22 – Salt Lake City, UT The Depot
March 24 – Vancouver, BC The Commodore Ballroom
March 25 – Seattle, WA The Showbox
March 26 – Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
March 28 – San Francisco, CA The Fillmore
March 29 – San Diego, CA The Observatory North Park
March 31 – Los Angeles, CA The Belasco