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BBC Sound of 2020: Bono’s son and his band Inhaler tipped for success

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Inhaler with Eli Hewson second right

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Eli Hewson (second right) with bandmates Josh Jenkinson, Robert Keating and Ryan McMahon

Inhaler want to make it on their own terms, just like any band.

The way they tell their story, the fact their frontman is the son of one of the world’s biggest rock stars is almost irrelevant.

Yes, Elijah Hewson does have something of his dad’s on-stage magnetism. Yes, he has a familiar yearning voice. Yes, there is a certain resemblance in the unkempt 80s mullet.

Yes, his dad is U2 singer Bono.

But the 20-year-old singer-guitarist-songwriter and his bandmates have spent 2019 showing signs – not least to the 170 music critics, DJs and musicians who have voted them to fifth place on the BBC Music Sound of 2020 list – that they have what it takes to be more than U2.0.

Inhaler’s sound combines a recognisable widescreen sweep with a baggy Madchester vibe and modern, synth-swathed indie melodies. The anthemic My Honest Face is their stand-out track so far.

At the same time, they have been relentlessly gigging to build up a fanbase of their own. They supported Noel Gallagher at two big summer shows and recently finished their first US tour, supporting Blossoms.

Their sound has more muscle than many of their indie contemporaries, and they say their forthcoming debut album will be about the effects of their generation’s dependence on smartphones and social media.

So if Inhaler can build on their 80s and 90s influences (both parental and otherwise) while feeding their own generation’s tastes and concerns, they will excite a young audience for whom Bono’s band are, yes, almost irrelevant.

Hewson and his bandmates Robert Keating (bass), Josh Jenkinson (guitar) and Ryan McMahon (drums) sat down to talk about where Inhaler have come from and where they are going in 2020.

The top five acts on the BBC Sound of 2020 list are being revealed in a countdown, with one revealed every day until the winner is announced on Thursday, 9 January.

  • Listen to the nominees on BBC Sounds
  • Find out more about the list.

How has 2019 treated you?

Ryan: Better than any other year as a band.

Eli: We started two or three years ago just as kids in a school band doing covers and that sort of thing. I don’t think any of us knew what we wanted to do after school. The band was something we always enjoyed, so we decided to go for it this year and it’s really worked out well.

You bonded over your musical tastes at school, right?

Robert: We were the only kids listening to a certain kind of music and that really brought us together in a special way. [It was] the love of rock music.

Eli: It was really anything with guitars. We all wanted to play guitar in the band.

Josh: I was in a different school but I met Eli at a party and he played me I Wanna Be Adored by The Stone Roses.

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What else did you bond over?

Eli: There was a lot of music from Manchester in the 90s, and the whole Britpop and Oasis thing. Every kid who’s 16 and sees that goes, ‘I want to be in a band’.

Tell me about the band name – are you all asthmatic?

Eli: No, just me. We were struggling to find a band name that we could all agree on for a long time. I’m asthmatic so my sister as a joke used to call us The Inhalers and it kind of caught on.

We liked it because it’s something you have to rely on and it’s a pick-me-up, and it relates to the stuff we’re talking about on the new material on the album.

What are you tackling in your lyrics?

Eli: As teenagers growing up these days, it’s interesting seeing how addictive things are, and that’s down to people’s phones and social media.

I’m even noticing I just always want to be looking at my phone. I can’t just walk outside and stand there and walk to a place without checking something. Inhaler is – you take it when you can’t breathe and you’ve got a medical issue, but it relates to self-medication and it’s a stimulus. There’s a plethora of stimuli that we have today.

I can see it in my friends. We’ll be sitting there having dinner together and everyone will be zombied out on their phone. Or, ‘Where are we going next?’

Are you yearning for a simpler time?

Eli: Kind of. We’re not trying to slam it. I just think it’s interesting to see the effect it has on people.

Josh: It’s more of an observation…

Robert: …than saying it’s a bad thing, because it could be a good thing, all this stuff that’s going on.

Ryan: It’s more just us trying to understand how you go about dealing with something like this, through music as well, because everything we do is under the eye of everyone. You play a song at a gig and it could go horribly wrong, but it’s there forever. Everything is so accessible. It’s mad and it’s never been like that before.

When you’re writing, where and when do you get in the zone?

Eli: With lyrics I definitely have to be on my own. Usually in my room with an acoustic guitar late at night.

Do you have your own place?

Eli: No, I live at home with my parents, like all of us.

Do they ever complain about the noise?

Eli: Not as much as they should.

Did you grow up around venues and get taken on tours?

Eli: I did, but it’s funny, I don’t really have that much memory of it really. I was a lot younger and my parents wouldn’t take me out of school or anything.

Did that make you want to be in that world?

Eli: It’s funny, I really wasn’t into music as a kid, and I only really started getting into music when I was 13 and I discovered it my own way rather than growing up in it. With anything, you have to have your own angle on it for you to be attached to it. I just wasn’t that interested in it as a kid. At all.

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Bono and wife Ali with baby Eli in 2000

Do you think you’ve learned anything from your dad, consciously or subconsciously?

Eli: Definitely subconsciously, yeah. Just from hearing him play a song in the house and listening to it and he critiques it, and that sort of stuff. But I’d never ask him for advice – only advice about where am I going to live next year and that sort of thing. I try not to ask him about music.

Because you want to do it your way?

Eli: Yeah, definitely.

Do you think that family connection is a pro or a con?

Robert: I don’t really see it as anything. It doesn’t really affect us, apart from having to talk about it in interviews, which is fine. It is what it is. We love our band, we meet young people all the time who like our music.

Eli: A lot of U2 fans do come to our gigs, who are all really lovely. They’ve all been really supportive, so obviously that’s a benefit. But I’d say it can also be an obstacle as well if you’re trying to do stuff your own way. But we’re not complaining at all.

You’ve just been on tour of the States with Blossoms.

Eli: Best two weeks of our lives.

Josh: It was my and Ryan’s first time in the States so we were just blown away by everything.

Robert: We saw the White House, we saw the house from Home Alone in Chicago. That was pretty cool.

Did you recreate any scenes?

Josh: No, but Ryan looked like the sticky bandits for the whole trip because he had a hat on.

Eli: When we started a band, when I pictured success it was us driving across America in the back of a van. We’ve done it.

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Michael Medwin: Shoestring actor dies aged 96

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Michael Medwin in Shoestring

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Medwin’s screen career spanned seven decades

British actor Michael Medwin has died in hospital in Bournemouth at the age of 96.

Best known for playing radio station boss Don Satchley in TV’s Shoestring, he was a prolific supporting player who appeared in films with Michael Caine, Sean Connery and Albert Finney.

Alongside Finney, he also produced such films as Lindsay Anderson’s If…., O Lucky Man! and Charlie Bubbles.

Born in London in 1923, he was made an OBE for services to drama in 2005.

Theatre producer David Pugh, with whom Medwin produced plays for three decades, was among the first to mark his passing.

Medwin, who trained at the Italia Conti stage school in London, made his film debut as a radio operator in 1946’s Piccadilly Incident.

In the six decades that followed, he appeared in such films as A Hill in Korea, Doctor at Large, Carry On Nurse and The Longest Day.

Often cast as cockney spivs at the start of his career, he moved on to authority figures like the doctor who treats Connery’s James Bond in 1983’s Never Say Never Again.

He also played the nephew of Albert Finney’s title character in Scrooge, despite being 12 years Finney’s senior.

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Medwin appeared alongside Trevor Eve in 21 episodes of Shoestring

As Don Satchley, Medwin would occasionally find himself at odds with Trevor Eve’s phone-in private investigator Eddie Shoestring.

Based in the West Country, the BBC TV series ran for two series spanning 21 episodes between 1979 and 1980.

“Acting was something I wanted to do, and by good fortune I found I could do it quite well,” he told The List in 2009.

The previous year he made one of his final screen appearances as a speechmaker who extols the virtues of Keira Knightley’s title character in The Duchess.

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Clive Cussler: Dirk Pitt novels author dies aged 88

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Cussler wrote more than 80 books in total during his lifetime

Clive Cussler, the US author of the popular Dirk Pitt novels, has died at the age of 88.

He wrote 25 books in the adventure series, including Sahara and Raise the Titanic, and sold more than 100 million copies of his novels in total.

Writing on Twitter, Cussler’s wife said: “It is with a heavy heart that I share the sad news that my husband Clive passed away [on] Monday.

“It has been a privilege to share in his life.”

She added: “I want to thank you, his fans and friends, for all the support. He was the kindest most gentle man I ever met. I know, his adventures will continue.”

The cause of his death has not been confirmed.

‘Soft spot in my heart’

Cussler’s 1992 thriller Sahara was adapted for the big screen in a 2005 film starring Matthew McConaughey and Penelope Cruz.

The writer, whose books have been published in more than 40 languages, was married to Barbara Knight for nearly 50 years until her death in 2003, and they had three children, Teri, Dirk, and Dayna.

He later married Janet Horvath. His son Dirk, named after the character, co-wrote his final three novels.

“Dirk will always have a soft spot in my heart because he started if off,” Cussler said in an interview with Working Mother in 2013.

“I hope readers see Pitt as a normal, average guy who is down to earth. He likes the Air Force, tequila, and an occasional cigar.

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“I used myself as a model for Dirk. We are both 6’3″, have green eyes, and at that time were the same weight and the same age.”

He added: “The only differences are that he is better with the girls and he has aged about 10 years while I have aged about 50.”

  • Cussler brands adaptation ‘silly’
  • Movie makers in film ‘flop’ fight

After selling the Sahara story to the billionaire Philip Anschutz, Cussler later sued, telling a US court in 2007 Hollywood “tore the heart out” of the book.

The movie grossed $119 million (£92.1m) worldwide but was still considered a box-office failure as it failed to recoup its own filmmaking costs.

The novelist said the company broke its contract by changing the story without his consent.

“I thought it was just awful,” he said of the film, adding that he considered the re-written dialogue to be silly.

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Cussler, pictured in 1977, was born in Illinois

One his earlier works, Raise the Titanic! was also made into a movie in 1980. The film, starring Jason Robards, Richard Jordan, David Selby, Anne Archer, and Sir Alec Guinness, proved to be a similar flop.

Cussler wrote more than 80 books in total, including the Isaac Bell Adventures and Fargo Adventures series.

Known as an expert in shipwrecks, Cussler founded the non-profit National Underwater and Marine Agency.

His non-fiction book Sea Hunters was so extensive in its underwater knowledge the Maritime College in the State of New York gave him a doctorate.


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Why Bob Iger’s long goodbye to Disney is a very big deal

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Bob Iger with 'Mickey Mouse' in 2017Image copyright
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Disney under Iger has been anything but a Mickey Mouse outfit

The news that Disney boss Bob Iger is stepping down as the company’s CEO has taken the movie world by surprise.

Since becoming chief executive in 2005, Iger led the company through several blockbuster acquisitions and the launch of the Disney+ streaming service.

Viewed by many to be the most powerful man in Hollywood, Iger had previously announced plans to retire only to push back his departure date.

Iger will remain Disney’s executive chairman until the end of 2021.

In a statement, the company said Iger would direct its “creative endeavours” while ensuring “a smooth and successful transition”.

Bob Chapek, who joined Disney in 1993 and previously ran the company’s parks and products division, has been appointed the company’s new CEO.

  • Disney boss Bob Iger steps down as chief executive

During Iger’s tenure as CEO, Disney took over animation studio Pixar, comic book company Marvel, Star Wars originator LucasFilm and Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox.

These acquisitions, combined with the launch of Disney+, amusement park openings and other factors, saw the company’s market value increase five-fold.

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Disney

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Disney+ launches in the UK on 24 March

Of the 20 highest-grossing films of the 2010s, 13 were Disney releases. Three of these titles made more than $2 billion (£1.54 billion) worldwide.

The most lucrative of the three, superhero blockbuster Avengers: Endgame, overtook 2009’s Avatar in July 2019 to become the highest-grossing film of all time.

  • Avengers overtakes Avatar at all-time box office

Last year Iger published a memoir, titled The Ride of a Lifetime, in which he wrote about the lessons he had learned from his 15 years as Disney CEO.

While promoting his book he gave his only UK interview to BBC media editor Amol Rajan, during which he reflected on his experiences and accomplishments.

“It would be nice to know that it’s going to turn out as well as it has, because I probably would have been just a little bit more relaxed,” he mused when asked what advice he would offer his younger self.

“But then again if I had been a little bit more relaxed, I probably wouldn’t have worked as hard and it might not have turned out. So because you can’t go back and do it over in anyway, I wouldn’t change a thing.”

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Media captionBob Iger says he’s proud of his achievements at Disney

The 69-year-old also expressed pride about the number of jobs he said had been created at the Disney company during his time as CEO.

“I’m proud of our efforts for our employees – for cast members as we call them – around the world. Of which there are now about 230,000,” he said.

“There are tens of thousands more of them today, by the way, than they were when I got the job. So we’ve created a huge number of jobs. And for hourly workers.

“I am proud of their compensation. I’m proud of the benefits that we’ve bestowed upon them. I’m proud of the opportunities we’ve created for them.

“There’s been huge upward mobility in our company by the very people that start at the bottom – I’m one of them – and enable themselves to not only work their way up, but to work their way up and to earn more.”

In other departments, however, Iger did concede mistakes had been made.

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Iger oversaw Disney’s acquisition of LucasFilm in 2012

“I have said publicly that I think we made and released too many Star Wars films over a short period of time,” he told Amol Rajan.

“I have not said that they were disappointing in any way. I’ve not said that I’m disappointed in their performance.

“I just think that there’s something so special about a Star Wars film, and less is more.

“The nice thing about Star Wars is the future is unlimited in terms of the places we can go, the stories we can tell and the characters we can introduce people to,” Iger said during a subsequent visit to the UK for the European premiere of the most recent Star Wars film.

Last December’s event also saw him reveal that his favourite character from the long-running sci-fi film saga was Chewbacca the Wookiee.

“I’ve always been a ‘Chewie’ fan,” he told the BBC’s Colin Paterson. “I don’t understand a word he’s saying, but he always makes me laugh.”

No doubt Iger’s departure would have seen the character utter one of his trademark mournful moans.

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