Words by: Matthew Griffiths
Dublin’s Inhaler used lockdown to hone their sound without having anyone to shape their decisions besides themselves.
During lockdown, there were artists who found that their new confines helped them to create – and there were also artists who found the opposite. This time spent either alone or away from masses of people became a sort of creative personality-type reveal for artists. Similar to how introverts recharge during their alone time, and how extroverts thrive around others – some creatives were artistically fuelled by lockdown, whereas others were not.
Dublin band Inhaler are a group of young men who found further inspiration for their music because of lockdown. Their aptly-named debut album, It Won’t Always Be Like This wasn’t put together in any short space of time, let alone during lockdown – as the LP has been “8 years in the making” according to Inhaler frontman Eli Hewson. Band members Robert and Eli recently sat down with NME for an “In Conversation” interview, where they shared some of their thoughts and experiences creating the album.
The album title, It Won’t Always Be Like This, was a name the band had liked for a while, and it maintained its relevance over the course of the album’s creation, seeing that the lyrical content in the album was constantly evolving. However, naturally, the name took on even greater meaning during lockdown.
A theme that hugely determined the development of Inhaler’s first album is maturity. Despite the title track being a song that they’ve played live for a long time, and one which helped them build a fanbase, they decided to re-record a new version for the album. Eli described the original version of the track as being “pre-pubescent” having recorded it when they were 18 ( Eli is currently 21, going on 22). Robert explained that as they had done more and more live performances of the song, they had gotten “a lot better as musicians”, figuring out better ways of playing it which went into the new version.
Eli found that the pandemic had added an element of seriousness to them as young men, who typically didn’t want to grow up. Being in a band seemed like a good outlet for holding onto their youth, but as the future of live music was threatened, it was time for them to get serious musically. They soon found that they were playing more mid-tempo songs instead of high energy ones, and were writing about a more broad range of topics, rather than the typical teenage themes of young love and partying.
“When lockdown happened…we just kind of turned to each other and was like, ‘If we’re ever gonna write about the world, surely you’re gonna write about it now.’”
Writing songs together over Zoom has definitely matured Inhaler in terms of their live playing ability. Songs on the album that were written during lockdown such as “When It Breaks”, “Slide Out The Window”, “Totally”, “Who’s Your Money On” and “In My Sleep” came with some ambiguity as to whether they could actually perform the songs live. Thankfully, once they got back to rehearsals, it worked out.
Lockdown has also given the band a bit of increased self awareness, and decisiveness. Not being able to play new songs to a live audience allowed Inhaler to stylistically select songs for the album based on what they wanted to play, as opposed to what they thought fans liked. This confidence is not completely new to them though. Something Inhaler has always done is refuse to determine who they were going to sound like, or look like, instead opting for just doing their own thing with “no rules”.
This brave notion was reinforced when Eli acknowledged that genre is “slowly becoming a thing of the past”, due to the nature of how today’s modern listeners consume music via streaming services. Inhaler’s musical goals as a guitar band transcend trend and style, and this is refreshing to see. I admire Inhaler as a band not only because of their maturity, adaptability and self awareness – but because of their pure desire to make good, meaningful music that makes you feel something:
“If someone just feels something from our record, then it’s mission success…any emotion whatsoever”