Hunter Valentine brings attitude to Windsor

Hailing from Toronto, Hunter Valentine is more than a name; it’s an attitude.

“We wanted a name that represented a certain kind of attitude we were trying to carry in this rock game,” says electric guitarist and lead vocalist, Kiyomi McCloskey. The name is actually the “porn star name” (first pet’s name plus the name of the first street that person lived on) of a friend of the band’s. McCloskey and her band mates, drummer and backup vocalist Laura Petracca, and bassist Adrienne Lloyd, liked the fictional name so much that it stuck with them. “It created this whole fictional character around the name,” McCloskey explains. “This is a person that has the ability to break because they’ve been broken in.”

The three members come from very different music backgrounds, only adding to Hunter Valentine’s unique sound. “I started playing shows around [downtown Toronto] when I was fairly young. I was obsessed with music since I was a little girl,” says McCloskey. “Adrienne studied classical music. She studied the upright bass at Western, she’s classically trained. Laura comes from family of drummers.”

While the band is currently enjoying a successful tour, things haven’t always been easy for Hunter Valentine. Before securing an offer from True North Records, the trio quit their jobs and gave up their apartments, travelling to an arts camp in Connecticut that Lloyd had worked in previously. “We knew that we wanted to do this and it was getting to a point where we weren’t getting offered a record deal. We were losing concentration because we had these day jobs. We’d finish around six or seven at night, hustle to the rehearsal space and rehearse for three hours. It’s different when you come from a job you hate; it makes it more difficult to remain super positive about it,” explains McCloskey.

Equipped with a recording studio, the camp was the perfect getaway for the band to become inspired and finish their album. “As we were on the road, we received a call from True North Records. More than ever, it was a mission to go down there and finish the album,” McCloskey says.

The band is learning a lot on their tour, like how to fix their live shows and how to travel well with each other. “We’re on tour with 15 guys. We’ve developed some potty mouths,” laughs McCloskey. “A lot of these guys have been in bands for years. There’s a difference between Ontario and prairie bands. Prairie bands tour more between places. Ontario bands are spoiled because there are so many places to play here,” she says.

Their record, The Impatient Romantic, from High Romance Music, a new imprint of True North Records, was produced by Canadian music producer superstar Julius “Juice” Butty, who has worked with such artists as Alexisonfire and Protest the Hero.

McCloskey sites Lucinda Williams, Kings of Leon, Neil Young, and Joan Jett among her musical and lyrical influences. As for her own lyric writing style, she says it’s always different. “I keep a book I try to write in as often as I can without music. I’ll write in the style of a song, and other times I just let my pen go free. It’s a good exercise to become a better writer. The lyrics come from different peoples’ stories and struggles that I see. If someone’s story gets to me, and I can’t get it out of my head, I know I have to write about it,” McCloskey explains.

Hunter Valentine feels a connection with their fans and strives to continue this relationship. “When we go on our MySpace and get these messages from these young kids we’ve helped through our music— whether it’s coming out to their family, or dealing with a bad relationship— they say the music has helped them in some way. We hope to take that to the next level and play to larger audiences,” says McCloskey.

As for the future, McCloskey, Petracca, and Lloyd are all hard at work preparing for their next tour. “We’re going to go back to New York to get an American record deal in January. After this tour, we have a little time off then we’re getting back into song writing,” promises McCloskey.

Catch Hunter Valentine on November 21 at The Basement. For more information about the band, visit huntervalentine.com.

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