Photo: Kari Terzino

Hiber – “What You Wanted” (audio) (premiere)

"What You Wanted" offers a great introduction to Hiber's indie/pop/rock sound.

Naming themselves after “the inevitable hibernation” that befalls inhabitants of their hometown every winter, Hiber is a Chicago quintet led by singer/songwriter Danny Surico (The Future Laureates). Although a newcomer to the indie/pop/rock scene, they’re quickly proving how well they measure up to genre contemporaries (and/or influences) like Guster, Walk the Moon, the Front Bottoms, Modern Baseball, and Ben Gibbard. Take their newest single (and title track from their upcoming debut EP), “What You Wanted”, for instance. A catchy rocker highlighted by warm guitar strums, punky riffs (that, oddly enough, evoke Ozzy Osbourne’s seminal “Crazy Train”), upbeat rhythms, and summery yet slightly antagonistic vocals and lyrics, it’s a great introduction to the Hiber sound.

Surico is blunt and honest in explaining that “What You Wanted” was written, “at a time when [he] got [his] ass kicked by the music industry.” He elaborates:

Some labels, publishers, managers, and investors that had expressed interest in the Future Laureates all of a sudden just ghosted, and I was forced to rebuild my life, health, and relationships. In retrospect, the way I was prioritizing my aspirations for music was unhealthy, and this was my way of saying, ‘Yes, I still want to pursue music, but this time around I want to prioritize my quality of life first and not make music my whole life.’

As for why he started a new musical project altogether, he says that he needed to challenge himself creatively. “I wanted to see what would happen if I took everything I learned about songwriting over seven years, placed that knowledge in a space-time accelerator, and cultivated a new group of collaborators to help realize my vision for a slightly darker, pop/rock EP.”

Knowing this behind-the-scenes inspiration provides some useful context for the simultaneously brash and bright charm of the music, as well as the catchy and embittered bridge: “Nobody gives a fuck that you’re down on your luck / Nobody gives a fuck until you’re rising up”. If the entire What You Wanted EP — which releases next month — packs the same level of unrestrained accessibility as its lead single, it’ll cement Hiber as a promising stylistic up-and-comer.

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