My dad (that’s Bono, to you!) is cool if I want to see if a song works... Inhaler
...and Eli’s old man is still rocking it!
What we know so far about Inhaler is that they have written a couple of decent songs and Bono’s son Elijah is the lead singer. Whether that will prove to be their epitaph or the introduction to a career beyond anyone’s expectations should soon be revealed.
I sat down with Elijah, shortened to Eli, bass player Rob Keating and guitarist Josh Jenkinson in the Gibson Hotel. With little effort you could hit one of the windows in the 3Arena with a stone from its balcony. U2 played their final Dublin show of the Experience + Innocence tour in the venue last night and Inhaler have ambitions to play there some day.
‘Rob and I met at school, [the exclusive St Andrew’s College in Blackrock]. We decided we needed a guitar player, so we “stole” Josh from another band,’ Eli says.
‘We started writing music and decided that would be a cool thing to do as a job. We did the Leaving Cert in the summer and we’ve taken a year out to really go for it.’
‘The songs we wrote were part of our work experience in transition year,’ Rob says. ‘We managed to convince our teachers that playing in a band could count as work experience.’
The fourth member, drummer Ryan McMahon, is absent from our chat and, while Josh nods affirmation to most of what the other two say, the founding members of the band, formed two years ago, are its primary spokesmen – especially 19-year-old Eli.
‘Our music is evolving because we are playing live more and more,’ he says. ‘We are starting to see what works and how you make a song sound good live.’
Upcoming gigs supporting Picturehouse and The Academic as well as the 3 Countdown concert in Dublin on New Year’s Eve will give them ample opportunity to prove that’s the case. ‘Being good live is the most important thing – that’s where the money is too,’ Eli says. The two original songs we’ve heard so far, I Want You and Is She My Girl? betray the freely admitted influence of Stone Roses not U2.
And on the one occasion I’ve seen Inhaler perform, I wouldn’t suggest the younger Hewson has his father’s performance chops either – but then neither did Bono at his age. Eli, though, is perhaps a good deal more confident than his dad was starting out. Surely though, he feels that playing in a band is just making a rod for his own back.
‘Eli could have been a footballer – he’s quite good,’ Rob says.
‘That was a slag,’ Eli says. ‘I’m sure in my folks’ heads they didn’t want me to do it. It was a passion and I just thought: “I’m going to go for it.” We’re putting in the work – we don’t want to be seen as riding someone else’s wave. The band is four brains working together.
‘My dad’s good when I want to see if a song is s***e or not – he will tell me straight away.’
I ask the other two were they sceptical about being in a band with Eli. ‘I don’t think there was a thought process. We just kind of started and have kept going,’ Rob says. ‘It was never a case that Eli was this big personality who rode the fact of who he was. I just thought I’ll do music with him because he’s a cool guy.’
‘Ah, you’re so sweet!’ Eli says with a laugh.
‘His old man does help us a bit but he will definitely point out the hardships that we might have to go through more than the positive things,’ Rob says. ‘If we don’t have something to show for our work by the end of the year we’ve taken out, then we’ll be going to college,’ Eli says somewhat surprisingly.
‘But we are confident in our musical abilities,’ Josh says – with the last word on matters until the public has its final say.
EvOlving: Josh, Robert, Ryan and Eli, aka Inhaler