He’s “Spiraling Out”: 17-Year-Old Hunter Oliveri Is Blazing His Own Angsty Grunge Trail

Hunter Oliveri © 2024
Hunter Oliveri © 2024
He’s “dumb” and he’s “spiraling out” in a blaze of alternative glory: 17-year-old Spinefarm signee Hunter Oliveri is making his own brand of angsty and irresistible Gen Z grunge.
Stream: “Spiraling Out” – Hunter Oliveri

What I like most about my sound is that it’s not a straight throwback to the ‘90s, it definitely might have a grungy influence, but I make it my own.

People have been talking about grunge making a cultural comeback – a mainstream “revival,” if you will – ever since it left the spotlight, at some undisclosed point in time during the mid-late ’90s. There’s no denying the resurgence of ’80s new wave, dance-pop and post-punk throughout the 2010s – and if fads, including musical ones, are cyclical in nature, then isn’t it natural that the 2020s would bring with them a ’90s renaissance?

What’s even more exciting is that young artists are embracing ’90s alternative sounds in a non-linear fashion, putting their own spin on things, rather than simply fitting into pre-existing boxes – meaning the “revival,” if we’re going to call it that, is more like revolution. From bubblegrunge to grunge-pop to grunge-folk and more, a new world of angsty, loud, and raw sound is steadily emerging – and 17-year-old Hunter Oliveri is part of that revolution.

Single art for Hunter Oliveri's latest single, "Spiraling Out"
Single art for Hunter Oliveri’s latest single, “Spiraling Out”

Hailing from Paso Robles, California (two hours north of Los Angeles), Oliveri pulls influences from the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Smashing Pumpkins, and more into searing music this is at once feverish, raucous, and rebellious, while still being catchy as hell. The young songwriter, guitarist, and vocalist began releasing music before he had finished going through puberty, and recently signed a record deal with UMG subsidiary Spinefarm Records – best known for their heavy metal roster.

But Oliveri isn’t heavy metal, nor is he grunge, nor is he punk, rock, or pop; with just two songs released to date via Spinefarm, the teenaged alt-rocker is blazing his own trail with churning and charged music that hits hard and leaves a nice ringing in our ears. Last September’s “DUMB” – Oliveri’s first release in two years – is a fiery and feel-good tongue-in-cheek anthem that sees him singing the refrain, “You know I could change, but I’d rather be dumb!” with a carefree attitude at the top of his lungs.

Oliveri followed up with November’s explosively emo “Spiraling Out,” a breathtaking hard rock cry for help brought to life through throttling guitars, heavy drums, and his angstiest vocal performance yet. It’s a powerful look at the kind of heavy music we can expect to hear from the teen, and an irresistible, exhilarating upheaval well worth the listen.

The grunge-adjacent music of 2024 is far more polished than its ’90s predecessor, and yet there’s still an undeniable rawness to Hunter Oliveri’s artistry that makes him more than worthy of the sacred (in certain circles) descriptor. Atwood Magazine caught up with the 17-year-old below to chat about his musical growth over the past few years, his two new songs, and more.

Read our interview below, and keep a close eye on Hunter Oliveri as he prepares to unleash more music into the world this year!

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Hunter Oliveri © 2024
Hunter Oliveri © 2024


Spiraling Out - Hunter Oliveri

Atwood Magazine: Great to meet you, Hunter! For starters, do you mind introducing yourself? Who are you, where are you from, and how long have you been making music?

Hunter Oliveri: Hey, I’m Hunter. I’m an artist from California and have been making music for probably 6 years now.

Who are a few of your main music inspirations and “north stars,” and what’s your main instrument?

Hunter Oliveri: A few of my inspirations are Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Motherlove Bone, and Sonic Youth. I play guitar as my main instrument. I grew up with my dad playing guitar so I was interested from a young age.

You released your debut single “Kids” in July 2020. What were the circumstances around writing and recording that first song, and what spurred you to release it online?

Hunter Oliveri: That song was something I did out of just pure intentions of having fun, nothing serious. I think I was 15 or so and just kind of had fun with it. I wanted to release it online because it was one step closer to the sound I was trying to go for.

It feels like something clicked between “Hallelujah” and “Afterglow,” released 5 months later. Suddenly you were leaning deeper into alternative sounds, and on that song we heard you singing over roaring guitars and drums. What... changed? What inspired this lateral move?

Hunter Oliveri: That is sort of the sound I always have wanted and the type of music I always wanted to make, so I decided to take the leap and go for something that was more me.

How, if at all, has signing with Spinefarm changed your creative process? What does the label team bring to the table for you, and what’s got you excited to be with them?

Hunter Oliveri: My creative process hasn’t really changed much. Now that I have a label I have access to great producers, mixers etc. so they can really help nail the sound I want, but my creative process is pretty much exactly the same.

How do you describe your current sound, and what do you like most about it?

Hunter Oliveri: I would describe my current sound as alternative with some grunge or punk influence. I have a lot of different influences in my music so I’m not sure how I would describe my sound exactly, but I like to say that. What I like most about it is that it’s not a straight throwback to the ‘90s, it definitely might have a grungy influence, but I make it my own sound.

After a two-year hiatus, you returned this September with “DUMB,” a self-deprecating song with the chorus, “You know I can change, but I’d rather be dumb.” Love it. Why return with this song, and what’s special about it, for you?

Hunter Oliveri: “Dumb” just felt right at the moment. I was coming out of summer and after two years of not putting anything out it definitely just felt like the perfect song to release. It had the energy, the punk and grunge influence as well as the pop influence. It felt like me.

“DUMB” is also one of your tightest songs to date, reminding me of ‘90s pop-rock and pop punk bands like Weezer and blink-182. What was the process of writing and recording this song like?

Hunter Oliveri: I remember it was really quick writing this song. I think it only took maybe two hours to write and record everything. I remember hearing it through the speakers for the first time and just knew it was something pretty cool. I remember it was a super fun vibe in the studio and we were all stoked about it.

“Spiraling Out” is your second single. You've said this song is about when feelings become overwhelming or unmanageable; how have you experienced that in your own life?

Hunter Oliveri: I think I experienced that quite a bit. When I went through a breakup, dealing with life and just growing up. Sometimes it’s a job or even parents. Just stressing a lot about sometimes unnecessary things that I get in my head about.

Was this song written amidst a spiral, or after you got out of it? To that point, why was it important for you to write about that cycle of stress, anxiety, or despair?

Hunter Oliveri: I remember I wrote that song in the same two week period of “Dumb.” I remember being in the studio and just being homesick and kind of depressed from fighting with my girlfriend at the time. That two week period was unique because each day I felt something different, and that is kind of what the song was about. Just being vulnerable, not knowing how to feel or what was going on in life.

I love that rush of emotion and the flood of energy you let out in the chorus – it’s such an emotional and sonic climax! Tell me about the ramp up to this cathartic release; what do you hope to convey in the chorus here?

Hunter Oliveri: I was hoping to get across almost masking my emotions – just hiding how I feel, but knowing deep down I’m just spiraling out.

The breakdown is utterly phenomenal, verging on metal. How did you build it, and where did it come from?!

Hunter Oliveri: That was purely experimental just messing around with synths and trying to make a unique breakdown of almost UK garage sound meets metal. We had no hopes or ideas – just messing around and seeing what sounded cool.

Hunter Oliveri © 2024
Hunter Oliveri © 2024

How do you feel “DUMB” and “Spiraling Out” reintroduce you? What do you hope listeners take away from these two songs?

Hunter Oliveri: I hope they see how diverse I can get and how I can tap into different emotions.

In the spirit of paying it forward, who are you listening to these days that you would recommend to our readers?

Hunter Oliveri: Some new bands or artists I recommend are Turnstile, Sugar Pit, Clairo, Dominic Fike, Royal Blood, and The Vines.

Lastly, what are you most excited about as we look ahead deeper into 2024?

Hunter Oliveri: I’m most excited about releasing more music and videos and hopefully going on tour and doing some shows.

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Spiraling Out - Hunter Oliveri

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