HUNTER VALENTINE BIO
There’s this feeling you get when you have an intense crush. Your heart keeps pounding, ricocheting off your ribs for no reason. Randomly, buying milk at the grocery store or riding the bus, you notice a full-on flock of butterflies trying to escape from your stomach. Without realizing, you find yourself humming the sappiest AM radio hits every morning in the shower. Strangers at the coffee shop comment on the fact that you’re grinning like an idiot. Everything seems so goddamned gorgeous. There are very few things that replicate that sense of total serotonin-charged exhilaration. Being perfectly drunk doesn’t quite cut it. The only thing that comes even close is a particular kind of note-perfect, hook-drenched music.
You know what I’m talking about – imagine Berry Gordy coaching the Marvelettes through Please Mr. Postman, or Diana Ross and her Supremes booty-bumping prismatic harmonies in Baby, Where Did Our Love Go? Think about Sleater-Kinney’s exuberant call-and-response yelps as they hiccup through the pre-chorus of I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone. Let your heart crack open as Bloc Party’s Kele Okereke wails about This Modern Love. Forget chocolate – the best pop songs are your sole surefire bet for feeling like you can fall in love again and again and again.
That’s why Hunter Valentine is gonna save us all.
When they first collided, back in the summer of 2004, the Toronto girl-group threeway composed of brazen singer/guitarist Kiyomi McCloskey, manic drummer Laura Petracca and classically trained bassist (and self-proclaimed music geek) Adrienne Lloyd coasted through kicky riffs, basic rhythms and spitfire lyrics with ease. Like any worthwhile lasting crush, it took a couple beats for them to secure a stranglehold around your heart.
Luckily, these girls were committed. They started busting their asses, scheduling rehearsals more often than most folks do the dishes. They played show after show, cementing their reputation as a stellar live band. Chemistry kicked in. Their songs got better and better. Just over a year later, Hunter Valentine were specially invited to play the prestigious North By Northeast festival and the Halifax Pop Explosion. Word got out. Canadian rock god Ian Blurton tracked them down and came on board to produce a self-titled demo EP. They shared stages with synth-pop stars like Dragonette and UK garage-rock breakouts the Duke Spirit. By the summer of 2006, barely two years after they first formed, Hunter Valentine were ready for the world to fall in love with them.
That’s when hearts really started getting ignited. Tenacious to begin with, McCloskey, Petracca and Lloyd decided they were willing to sacrifice pretty much everything to devote themselves entirely to making the best, most beautiful album they could. They quit their jobs and gave up their apartments, cruised down the I-90 to a remote part of Connecticut, where they spent several months helping bohemian kids realize their true potential at an arty summer camp (translation: they played music 24 hours a day, till their guitar- and bass-playing hands developed calluses upon calluses and overworked muscles spasmed out drum fills in their sleep). They got really, really good.
By the time the season changed, Hunter Valentine had signed on with High Romance Music, a new imprint of True North Records.
Armed with a battalion of garage-rock anthems for heartbreakers and the brokenhearted, they recruited producer Julius Butty, best known for helping hone the razor-sharp edge on albums by Canuck screamo heroes Alexisonfire and City and Colour, and headed to the studio to create what would become their rock-solid, spectacular debut LP, The Impatient Romantic. Hunter Valentine’s shimmering, serrated guitar riffs and galloping beats echoed off the quiet streets of rural Stoney Creek, Ontario. They synchronized handclaps over whiskey in backwater bars. They managed to capture every rapture, every rejection, every moment of redemption, every hapless last-call bar pickup, every lonely walk home on a freezing snowy night, every story of a great love gone off the rails… all of it is on tape.
The Impatient Romantic will knock you flat on your ass. From the spleen-rattling basslines and singalong chorus of Typical to the hiccupping tempo of Break This, from the shimmering intro to Rotting Love Guts to the lip-curled kiss-off of Jimmy Dean, from the down-on-my-knees pleas of Van City to the sombre piano chords and hazy fogged-window sighs of album-closer Judy – it’s the triumphant crush you’ve been waiting for since you were an awkward dreamer in high school, waiting to fall in love in the locker hallway. Need context? You can hear echoes of sneering, scratched-melody punks and rock ’n’ roll superheroines like Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith and Linda Perry. You can hear the unabashed heart-on-my-sleeve harmonies of the Pernice Brothers and the Raveonettes alongside the stargazing romanticism of Canadian indie rock torchbearers like Stars and the Arcade Fire. You can hear the meticulous low-end of classic Motown and the shang-a-lang girl gang attitude of the Shangri-Las.
Prepare yourself for Hunter Valentine: a love like this doesn’t happen every day.
Kiyomi McCloskey: Lead guitar and vocals
Laura Petracca: Drums and back-up vocals
Adrienne Lloyd: Bass and Keys
"Hunter Valentine" E.P 2005 (Independent)
Produced By, Ian Blurton at Chemical Sound
Tracks: 1.Break this 2.Fight 3. Van City 4. Rotting Love Guts
"The Impatient Romantic" L.P 2007 (High Romance Music)
Produced by, Julius "Juice" Butty at Metalworks/silo recording studio
Tracks: 1. Typical 2.Staten Island Dream Tour 3.Break This 4.Van City 5.Jimmy Dean 6.Wait and See 7.The Problem with Devotion 8.Rotting Love Guts 9.My Private Battle 10.Lying Through Her Teeth 11.Judy
"Something Old, Something New, Some Things True"
2.The Problem With Devotion
3.Wait and See
4. A Youthful Existence
6.Just A Little While Longer
Montreal Mirror Cover Story
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Grrrls will be boys Hunter Valentine, three hard-rocking Toronto chicks, make music that pers...Grrrls will be boys
Hunter Valentine, three hard-rocking
Toronto chicks, make music that
personifies your crush, your
heartbreak and your
by LORRAINE CARPENTER
“Hunter Valentine will save us all.”
That’s quite the claim for a mere rock band, but then this is no ordinary outfit. Hunter Valentine is an all-female, all-queer trio formed in 2004 by singer/guitarist Kiyomi McCloskey (now 23), bassist Adrienne Lloyd (28) and drummer Laura Petracca (28). Their melodic punk anthems, lovelorn ballads and hard-hitting rock shows have earned them an enviable reputation, as have their L Word looks—the band pinned a picture of the cast from the lesbian TV drama to the wall of their first rehearsal space, perhaps looking to leech a little dyke-icon power.
With such sweet totems and tons of hard work (these ladies are full-time rockers, day jobs be damned), Hunter Valentine have not only wowed the Canadian queer circuit but attracted a broader audience, people who love them for their tunes and for the good times they’ve brought to venues across the country.
Toronto rawk god Ian Blurton was an early convert, recording their very first demo in 2005, while Julius Butty (Alexisonfire, City and Colour) produced their debut album, The Impatient Romantic, released last year on High Romance Music (an imprint tied to True North Records). Bristling with flash and passion, the record is imbued with a spirit that the band compares to the steely grip of a serious crush, perhaps your first crush on that pretty, popular girl who was the centre of your universe in high school. But, as sketched in the band’s storybook manifesto, your heart soon plummeted, putting the butterflies in your stomach out of their misery, when “the cool guy” stepped in and swept that girl off her feet. And that cool guy is Hunter Valentine.
“We say ‘he’ but anyone can have a little bit of Hunter Valentine in them,” reads the manifesto. “He is the heartbreaker that fucked up your chances. He is the badass inside you that comes out every once in a while. If you don’t love him, then you want to hate him. But you can’t. Because he is just himself and he never promised you anything.”
This attitude is what fuels the music made by these three ladies, who named their band, with typical sass, after a friend’s porn star name (the name of your favourite pet paired with the street you grew up on).
Recently returned from playing the Canadian Blast showcase at the London Calling music festival in the U.K., all three members of Hunter Valentine gathered in a Toronto boardroom last week to speak to the Mirror via conference call.
Mirror: First of all, what are your porn star names?
Kiyomi McCloskey: Mine would be Harley Crawford.
Laura Petracca: Ginger Jade.
Adrienne Lloyd: Brandi St-Clair.
M: Wow, those are all ridiculously good.
KM: Yeah, maybe they should’ve been our stage names.
M: As for Hunter Valentine, is “he” sometimes a starting point for your lyrics?
KM: Yeah. A lot of songs come from being heartbroken, whether it’s from a relationship or losing your friend to drugs or watching your mother go through a difficult time. Then there are songs about love and how great that is too, and it all comes from that idea of Hunter Valentine, where he’s able to break so easily because he’s been broken in so many times.
Superheroine and superheroes
M: Your bio mentions your “rock ’n’ roll superheroines,” Joan Jett, Chrissie Hynde, Patti Smith and Linda Perry—are these the artists that first inspired you to pick up an instrument, or was there some driving force closer to home?
KM: I was obsessed with music growing up, I idolized a lot of musicians, but what inspired me to focus on playing the guitar and singing and writing songs was taking lesssons from a guy named Russell Leon. After every lesson, after going over basic scales and learning Radiohead songs or whatever I was into that week, I’d ask him to play me one of his originals. I was so impressed that, eventually, I tried it myself. It’s sort of addictive, so I’ve been at it ever since.
LP: I come from a family of drummers, so growing up seeing my grandfather’s drum kit set up in one room and my uncle’s in the other gave me a lot of inspiration, just ’cause it was noisy and I’m very, very, very noisy. Growing up in a classic rock family, all those crazy drummers like John Bonham and Keith Moon were heroes too.
AL: I started out on piano when I was really young but I got bored quickly. The only performing I did was at my family Christmas parties and at the exams I had to take at the conservatory. I was ready to quit music altogether when my high school music teacher pulled me in on upright bass. He gave me one for my house and paid for some lessons.
KM: Why the bass?
AL: He said, “You’re nice and tall, why don’t you try this?” But he also commented that I was a pretty terrible cellist (laughter). Initially, I thought it would be an easy mark in Grade 9, but right away, I was hooked. It felt as though everything I loved about music was captured in playing bass.
M: I understand that two of you, Kiyomi and Laura, met in a lesbian bar. How about Adrienne?
KM: We were actually introduced to Adrienne by Lorraine Segato of Parachute Club fame. We met her, started playing with her, and then we had our first show like a week later, to 500 people.
AL: It was during Pride Toronto four years ago. It was a pretty amazing introduction to playing music with these guys.
M: What did you play?
AL: I learned about five of Kiyomi and Laura’s songs from a rough-cut demo.
LM: And we did “Crimson and Clover.”
AL: I don’t know if anybody recorded it, but I’d be pretty happy if no one did.
LM: We were really bad.
M: Since previous incarnations of the band included a couple of guys, I imagine that you didn’t prioritize the idea of an all-female line-up.
KM: It was never something that we were after, but now we’re not sure that we would go back. We play one hell of a show when we’re all on the same cycle.
M: I gather that your fanbase now is more diverse than it was in the beginning, bringing in the queer community and rock fans at large.
KM: Yeah, it’s a very mixed crowd and we’re really proud of that. It’s exciting that it’s not one specific scene, it’s a mélange.
M: Has being pigeonholed as a lesbian band been a problem?
KM: Maybe in the very beginning, but not so much now.
AL: But playing to the queer community in Toronto was also how we got started and we felt very privileged to be a part of it and to be supported by it as musicians.
M: Are you still playing annual Valentine’s Day shows?
KM: Oh yeah, till we die.
M: There’s always some anti-Valentine’s Day action here in Montreal every year, some of it spearheaded by queer groups.
KM: Oh yeah? Tell them to come to Toronto next year, we’ll start a riot. Our Valentine’s Day shows are really cool ’cause we just encourage everyone to come out. If you want to come out as a couple and have a romantic little time, that’s great, but if you wanna come out and cruise for people, then that’s fine too. It’s a celebration of love. However you wanna take that is up to you.
AL: It can be whatever you want it to be. For some people, it’s about romance, but for a lot of other people who are coming to our shows, it’s totally about having a great time with Hunter Valentine.
Exclaim Album Review
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Hunter Valentine The Impatient Romantic By Liz Worth This anticipated debut full-length from T...Hunter Valentine
The Impatient Romantic
By Liz Worth
This anticipated debut full-length from Toronto’s Hunter Valentine drags you into tainted lullabies and hoarse pleas for remorse. It will leave you bruised, battered and blubbering, and just as soon you catch your breath you’ll want to go through the whole thing again. The Impatient Romantic deserves no words less than stunning, astonishing and unbelievable. Vocalist Kiyomi McCloskey’s voice gets caught in the light that shines through the rips and snags, transforming every word into a churning, soulful howl that blends with the rupturing bass lines and garage-inflected guitars. Album opener “Typical” is a furious tangle of McCloskey’s husky energies, while “The Problem With Devotion” and “Rotting Love Guts,” despite the song title, both see Hunter Valentine mellowing out but never losing the halo of thorns that orbits around every beat this trio pound out. The Impatient Romantic is the sound of nervous breakdowns and broken romances, of whiskey shots at two a.m. and clenched fists, and one that shows what so many have figured about Hunter Valentine already: that they are a band to fall in love with.
Penetration Blog, band to watch
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She Signed The Cliks, Now She's Got Her Eye on Hunter Valentine. Maybe You Should, Too! Rosie Lop...She Signed The Cliks, Now She's Got Her Eye on Hunter Valentine. Maybe You Should, Too!
Rosie Lopez, the rockin' label exec who signed and subsequently made The Cliks one of the most visible new bands out there (from headlining True Colors, touring with The Cult, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel), comes her latest a tip: Keep your eyes on Canadian trio, Hunter Valentine (Adrienne, Kyomi, Laura). And if you're in the NYC area mid-November, join Rosie and Hunter Valentine fans when they play Hank's Saloon in Brooklyn on November 14 and Otto's Shrunken Head in the East Village on November 15 as part of GoGirlsMusicFest 2008. Visit the Hunter Valentine MySpace page to hear some music, see video's for smokin' singles like "Break This" and read the funny/sexy "Hunter Valentine Manifesto."
Venus Magazine Live Review
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Canadian Cupids Toronto trio Hunter Valentine offers a “hearty” Valentine's Day show By Stevi...Canadian Cupids
Toronto trio Hunter Valentine offers a “hearty” Valentine's Day show
By Stevie Howell
Published: February 17th, 2008
February 14, 2008, in Toronto — Valentine's Day can be divisive: Is it too cliché and commercial? And what if you don't have a partner? On top of it all, Valentine's occurs at practically the coldest and darkest time of year — but Hunter Valentine decided to solve this dilemma by holding a Valentine's party at the Reverb in Toronto, and it was a cheap and cheerful group get-together that warmed hearts in the way that only music can.
Hunter Valentine is a hard-rocking all-female band with an infectiously catchy Tegan & Sara-like sound, but with more of a garage-rock influence. In two short years, it has released an EP, played countless shows, and signed to High Romance Music, an imprint of True North Records. In April 2007, the trio released its first full-length album, The Impatient Romantic (High Romance Music).
The band has built a considerable and loyal following, as was apparent at the Valentine's Day party. Hundreds of enthusiastic fans danced and sang along with every word, especially to crowd favorites such as “Break This,” “The Problem With Devotion,” and “Typical.” Strong in both attitude and style, the members also exhibit phenomenal musicianship: Drummer Laura Petracca and bassist Adrienne Lloyd are professionally trained, and singer-guitarist Kiyomi McCloskey has a flawless voice paired with an unforgettable presence.
The room was decorated like a high school dance with hundreds of paper hearts, streamers, and balloons hanging from the rafters, giving the venue and the performance a true D.I.Y charm. Combined with edgy tunes and an indie crowd, it was the perfect antidote to the sometimes overly-sweetened day known as Valentine's.
Now Magazine Cover Story
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Hunter Valentine Tough-girl rock squad ready to rumble - and maybe break a few hearts along the wa...Hunter Valentine
Tough-girl rock squad ready to rumble - and maybe break a few hearts along the way
By SARAH LISS
When you walk into Hunter Valentine's cramped rehearsal space in a warehouse building down by the St. Lawrence Market, two hand-scrawled signs jump out at you right away. A casual code of conduct for the folks who hang out in the grungy room, they read something like this: Rule One - No pussyfootin' around. Rule Two - However, pussy is always welcome.
At first glance, the house rules seem like typical groupie-shagging rock 'n' roll ickiness. Then you start noticing clues that tip you off to the fact that these aren't your average boy-band ballers, like the supply of tampons propped beside the light switch, or the glossy L Word group shot taped beside a poster of Prince on the wall.
Welcome to the world of Hunter Valentine, where the ballsy cockiness of testosterone-charged heartbreakers rubs up alongside the tempered sweetness of girls-with-guitars. Everyone kinda digs the friction. Well, not everyone.
"This other band that shares our practice space," begins frontwoman Kiyomi McCloskey, "they kinda got pissed off about the way we, uh, left the environment. We got a note about how we weren't keeping it clean or nice or… safe enough."
Apparently, the kind of ladies who make womyn-with-a-"y" music aren't into Hunter Valentine's version of rock atmosphere, and that's fine with them. Anyone who's caught the spiky all-girl three-piece live knows they're not the types to make apologies. They play heartbreaker music, a kind of driving, relentlessly hooky pop that's shot through with drum breaks you tap out on the back of your school notebooks, bass lines you hum at the end of a bittersweet drunken night and melodies that stick in your brain and become soundtracks to those days when you feel your life is like a movie.
The trio of McCloskey, bassist Adrienne Lloyd and drummer Laura Petracca almost fit neatly into a long line of kitten-with-a-whip female popsters beginning with the Shangri-Las and running through the Bangles, the Go-Gos, Heart and Tegan and Sara. Almost. The thing they have going for them, though, is the heart-skipping X-factor of their frontwoman.
Even during a performance marred by technical glitches, McCloskey is a hypnotic powerhouse. Bolstered by a guttural, throaty wail that's equal parts Janis Joplin, Joan Jett and PJ Harvey, she exudes an effortless, unapologetic tough-girl sexiness onstage that makes you feel like she's playing to an arena – even when she's testing out cover tunes during a rehearsal session.
"One of the worst things in the world is when you see a performer and it's not believable," groans bassist Lloyd. "You don't buy it. With Kiyomi, though, it's all natural."
"You have to find the middle ground," McCloskey chimes in. "I've been to shows where the frontperson has been so exaggerated, where you can tell he thinks he's a rock star even though he has yet to do something significant. Or the flip side is the boring person who's just onstage playing songs and that's it.
"I grew up as a tomboy rough kid, so that's what comes out onstage, and I guess it works. Maybe it even seems empowering."
The chemistry you see between the members onstage is a pretty accurate reflection of their real-world personalities. Petracca's genially goofy ham antics and Lloyd's shy braininess serve as a perfect balance to McCloskey's Kristy McNichol tomboy steez.
Although they've only been playing in this formation for a year – Petracca and McCloskey hooked up (musically) after a couple of chance meetings at a dyke bar ("…that shall remain nameless," mutters a sheepish Petracca), and Lloyd came on board soon after – the 20-somethings have musical backgrounds that go back way further.
Petracca (who can trace her lineage back to the Italian poet Petrarch) grew up whaling on kits that belonged to her grandpa and uncle, both of whom performed in bands, while self-proclaimed band geek Lloyd, who used to puke before Royal Conservatory exams, is a classically trained bassist who did the orchestra thing before discovering she could make extra cash by trading her upright bass for an electric and jamming with rock bands in university. Yes, she's played weddings.
McCloskey will tell you she first played in front of crowds as a teenager during a songwriters night at Graffiti's, but if you ask her childhood friends or her mom (who's at almost every show), they'd say she started her musical career entertaining family friends at her cottage near Kinmount, Ontario.
Incidentally, that extended circle of family friends included local icon Lorraine Segato, of Parachute Club fame, who helped mentor Hunter Valentine after some pals suggested she check out the band. Segato's stopped being so hands-on, although she still shows up at some of their gigs.
With or without Segato's input, Hunter Valentine have developed a pretty remarkable amount in the last year. Last June they were a shaky battle-of-the-bands-level outfit compared to the confident, swaggering, tight rock sitting across from me today.
That's partly due to the incredibly supportive nature of the community within which they've established themselves. Like the political protest folk movement of the late 60s and early 70s or the second-wave-skewed feminist singer/songwriter genre epitomized by the heyday of the now controversial Michigan Womyn's Music Fest, Toronto's queer music scene provides unprecedented performance opportunities and built-in crowds for artists within a certain identity politic.
The downside of such a tight-knit scene, however, is that it comes with its own glass ceiling. Can you evolve artistically if you keep playing to the same queer cabaret crowds at the Gladstone? And when you decide to move beyond that insular sphere, your core fan base isn't always happy.
It's a tricky place that Hunter Valentine's trying to navigate right now. Before our interview, at their rehearsal, they spent time running through the Sapphic classics – Crimson & Clover over and over – they'll need to fill up a two-hour set when they play a straight-out-of-The-L-Word lesbian boat cruise during Pride.
They joke about throwing in the piss-take parody tune they've written about cheesy stereotypical dykes, but worry it might not go over well with the politically correct mullet set.
At the same time, for a band that's used to the warmth and familiarity – and guaranteed turnout – of community-based shows, playing for skeptical outsiders can be a real letdown. Last week I watched the trio nervously try to win over a reserved NXNE crowd, with mixed results.
"If you're smart about it, you can have a full career within that community, but as a musician, do you really want to do that?" says McCloskey. "You don't want to turn your back on your community, and they've been so-o-o-o fuckin' supportive and so amazing, but even this article might define us as a queer band and leave us in a fuckin' hole that'll take forever to get out of."
Chartattack Album Review
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HUNTER VALENTINE The Impatient Romantic (True North/Universal) True North may have found its Rou...HUNTER VALENTINE The Impatient Romantic (True North/Universal)
True North may have found its Rough Trade for the 21st century. This all-female Toronto trio, fronted by charismatic singer/guitarist Kiyomi McCloskey, ooze danger and sex appeal, and should reel in both gay and straight audiences. Lead single "Typical" is a jagged pop tune with a piercing hook, and this opening track sets the pace for the remaining 10 songs. "Break This" is cheerfully augmented with hand claps and McCloskey's breathy vocals. Cello and violin add lush layers to "Van City," and the chorus may elicit vague reminiscences of Nick Gilder's "Hot Child In The City." "Wait And See" builds to churning climaxes and is one of the primary songs where you may hear Concrete Blonde lurking in the shadows. The album was produced by Julius "Juice" Butty (Alexisonfire, City & Colour), who helps provide the band with a balanced blend of crunch and restraint in the right places.
Xtra Cover Story
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Make out with Hunter Valentine ROCK 'N' ROLL / Breaking Hearts Lisa Foad / Xtra / Thursday, Novemb...Make out with Hunter Valentine
ROCK 'N' ROLL / Breaking Hearts
Lisa Foad / Xtra / Thursday, November 24, 2005
SWAGGERING LOVE. Adrienne Lloyd, Kiyomi McCloskey and Laura Petracca will give you heart trouble. (Paula Wilson)
Before Hunter Valentine took the stage at the Supermarket in Kensington Market on Nov 17, the floor was swarming, the air littered with mouthy demands for the trio. When the young guns finally stepped up, the room somehow got bigger. Laura Petracca slivered out backup vocals while feverishly pounding her skins; Adrienne Lloyd's fingers fancily strummed up bass rhythm, only a few sly smiles slipping out; and Kiyomi McCloskey delivered shards of melody on guitar, her breathy wails really making it with the mic. "You can't steal this/ 'Cause I feel it," warned McCloskey in "Fight." When they get to "My Regrets," the band saucily dedicated it to me. This interview? Say it ain't so.
Maybe there was cause for concern. A few nights before, I sat down with the "Romeo rock" darlings, as they've been called, over nachos and beer along Queen West. We talked music, girls, vision, everything. In the span of three hours, Petracca managed to get picked up by a woman dining a few tables over, McCloskey disappeared to "meet some girl in the bathroom," Lloyd enigmatically avoided all personal questions and the three of them vowed to steal my mother's heart.
I wouldn't be surprised. After all, since their genesis in the summer of 2004, they've managed to steal hearts at June's NXNE Music Festival, a performance by invitation where they secured two critics' picks. A few days later they graced the cover of Now magazine. Their August gig at the Drake Underground sold out well before show time. They were selected for October's Halifax Pop Explosion Festival, and they've already toured much of Ontario. Their first EP, a four-track affectionately referred to as the "Scarborough Sessions," was recorded back in February with the help of Percy (aka Jason LaPrade, of the now-defunct Jane Waynes). "My Regrets" was just featured on a Confidential Records compilation (November 2005) and their slick new website just went live on Nov 17, including a new version of "Van City." But perhaps their biggest stolen heart to date is that of lauded Canadian producer and musician Ian Blurton (The Weakerthans, Tricky Woo, C'Mon), with whom they just recorded their new demo.
How'd they do it?
"It was after our Jun 18 show at the El Mo," says McCloskey. "I was backstage and this very rock-and-roll dude came up to me and said, 'Hey, that was awesome!' And I was like, 'Uh, okay,'" McCloskey mimics speechlessness. "I gave him our EP and he said he'd be into working with us. He came to our rehearsal space, we played him our songs, he told us what he thought. And we were in the studio Aug 20. It was all really quick."
"Working with him was a great experience," says Lloyd. "Letting a producer in can be intimidating, but Ian's integrity and insight into our music was perfect. He really got inside the sound."
Exposure brought opportunities and challenges. "People were calling, wanting something to do with us," McCloskey says. "Others were really questioning our credibility because we did this so quickly. It really made us check ourselves.
"Especially going into the studio with Ian - we needed to strip down all the bullshit and figure out exactly what we were doing, whether or not we were going to totally commit everything. We're a hardworking band and I want to be known as a hardworking band."
"We were struggling to keep it together under a lot of pressure," says Lloyd. "The night before we recorded, we sat outside our rehearsal space in tears. We didn't know if we had the money. We were completely worn out. It was a breaking point. But then we went into the studio and had the most amazing experience: For three days we had the opportunity to dream that this could be the rest of our lives."
Sure, they're still in debt, but who cares? They've got a crisply cut demo to shop around -- the beginnings of an LP if they choose -- and the confidence to know they can do the job. "We're going to take a month or two off to make some good decisions about our future," says Petracca. "We'd like to write some more songs."
Writing is a collective effort. "Kiyomi will come with a riff, an idea, a melody and Hunter Valentine collaborates to make it happen," says Petracca. "Kiyomi handles lyrics. Adrienne is the bridge queen."
It was in March 2003 that McCloskey and Petracca first met. During a night of debauchery, they hit it off, traded numbers... and promptly lost them. It wasn't until August that they stumbled upon one another again. Things clicked immediately. "We can read each other's minds," says Petracca. "There are lots of times we don't say what we're going to do but we both do it."
"We can't read Adrienne's mind because she's a vegetarian," adds McCloskey.
In fall of 2003, the duo morphed briefly into a four-piece that quickly flat-lined as people left to pursue other projects. They found Lloyd through a mutual friend -- the Parachute Club's Lorraine Segato -- just a couple weeks before a gig at Juicy's 2004 sold-out Pride party. So began the swaggering rock that's Hunter Valentine.
Lloyd, 26, studied piano at the Royal Conservatory and classical music at Western. "I spent four years denying the fact that I actually really loved rock and roll. When you're supposed to be loving Brahms and Beethoven, it seems kind of antithetical." The various bands on her bio include The Jane Waynes, for whom she subbed bass for a spell. "They nurtured us in the beginning, let us open for them. Sharing an audience is a really gracious thing to do to a young band."
McCloskey, in her early 20s, also has a polygamous resumé. "I actually have a long musical history of quitting instruments," she laughs. "In grade four I started off with the viola, but I was really bad so I quit. In high school, I played baritone sax and liked it but it's the largest orchestra instrument and probably one of the most expensive. It wasn't until one year at camp that I started playing guitar. I had a crush on this counsellor and she was teaching the lessons so I started going to them every day."
Back in Toronto, she continued training and launched a solo act until it began to wear thin. "I was sick of people putting me in this girl-with-a-guitar category, calling it folk right away."
Petracca (ex-Crawling Ivy), 25, is known for cleaning up at drum competitions. Her grandfather and uncle are both drummers. "There was always at least one kit set up at my grandmother's house. I'd always sneak into the basement and start playing soft but inevitably break out into something loud until someone would come down and tell me to shut up. I got seriously into it at 14. I was in a number of bands with lots of crazy stupid names."
McCloskey explains the concept behind Hunter Valentine. "It's the space of the heartbreaker and the heartbroken, both a mentality and a fiction - the character that everyone hates to love, envies and wants to be, who we've all felt ripped off by at some point. Everyone has elements of that character in them. When we're onstage, we're singing songs about how our hearts have been ripped out, but at same time, drawing people in and maybe breaking hearts as we go.
"Some people don't get it. They think we're just young, cocky little pricks."
What of their own breaking-hearts track record? "Why don't you take a poll at the Gladstone and figure it out?" McCloskey deadpans, bursting into laughter. "I was 17 when I had my heart broken. It was my first love. I went out and did ridiculous things for this girl -- in the middle of the night, I painted a bench in Trinity Bellwoods Park bright red for her. That was right before the heartbreak happened. It's faded some, but the bench is still red."
Petracca's first? "I was 21. She kissed my shoulder and stole my heart instantly. We never got to a foul point, which made it the hardest. It just kind of ended before it got really good. And I broke a girl's heart very badly in a very bad way. I Dear Johnned my girlfriend of almost three years. I couldn't talk to her so I wrote her a 12-page letter."
"That's not a Dear John!" yells Lloyd, who McCloskey calls "Mysterious-O" - she won't divulge any of her own stories.
Whether they're hammering out the melancholy of losing someone to addiction or muscling their way through heartbreak, Hunter Valentine's tightly knit rock, equal parts brawn and angst, demands that hips sway and hearts swell.
Scene And Heard Album Review
[+ Show ]
Hunter Valentine The Impatient Romantic High Romance/True North Records Listening to the stunni...Hunter Valentine
The Impatient Romantic
High Romance/True North Records
Listening to the stunning debut from Toronto's Hunter Valentine, it seems hard to believe the trio has been together for less than three years.
From the catchy lead off track and first single 'Typical' to the disc's beautiful closer 'Judy', the band has crafted a top-to-bottom collection of punchy pop-rock songs that belies the relatively short time they've been together.
The album's 11 tracks vary between short, sharp pop numbers like 'Jimmy Dean' and the live staple 'Break This' to slower numbers like 'Staten Island Dream Tour' and the disc's standout, the gorgeous, string-drenched 'Van City'.
Kiyomi McCloskey's incredible presence comes through on every song, particularly 'Wait and See' and 'The Problem With Devotion'. Drummer Laura Petracca and bassist Adrienne Lloyd provide a rock solid bottom end with Petracca's sweet voice balancing out McCloskey's raspy vocals.
Hunter Valentine has delivered on the not inconsiderable buzz that's surrounded them for the last couple of years and turned in an absolutely incredible first effort. While saying that 'you can expect to hear more about this band in the future' is one of the biggest critic's clichés going, it's true in this case.
Just because McCloskey sings that she's "looking for devotion/But not for tonight" that doesn't mean this band doesn't deserve your total devotion because they do. And not just for tonight but every night that follows.
- Andrew Horan
Pulse Niagara Interview
[+ Show ]
The Hunt in Hunter Valentine There are moments in every young band’s life that have a way of gi...The Hunt in Hunter Valentine
There are moments in every young band’s life that have a way of
giving them an added dose of confidence. Whether it’s a sold–out
show, getting a song onto the radio, or landing a record deal,
reaching such career landmarks are unbelievably important.
Between 2006 and 2007, Toronto rock trio Hunter Valentine have
experienced all three and managed to ride a wave of momentum
straight into the 30+ date tour in which they are currently on.
Now, if HV weren’t already happy enough with how far
they’ve come, or still had doubts as to whether or not this band is
where it’s supposed to be, those feelings would’ve surely changed
recently when the group’s vocalist/guitarist Kiyomi McCloskey
had an impromptu encounter with a female rock icon prior to a
gig in the Big Apple.
“We go into this hole–in–the–wall key cutting shop — it’s off
of Broadway; it was kind of a side street. We go in, and I see the
back of this female rocker, she had a real husky voice and then
she turned around and I’m like, ‘holy shit, that’s Joan Jett,’ fondly
recalls McCloskey. “I kind of recognized that Joan Jett was getting
keys cut and I didn’t really know what to do — I don’t really get
star struck. It’s weird because I had a dream a couple of nights
before that I had met her, so I said, ‘hello.’
“It showed me how small this world is. I wasn’t like, ‘oh, I’m
not going to send Joan Jett a record, because she’ll never get it.’
Because she was like, ‘send me some music, we’re always looking
for new girl bands,’ and we don’t have an American deal yet,” she
adds. “I see that this is a small world and you shouldn’t be
intimidated by New York City or playing a showcase at CMJ. It
showed me that I shouldn’t be intimidated by these things that
are so big and powerful. It made me want to push this (band)
The inspiration to continually push this band as far as it can go is not anything new to HV. After forming back in 2004, McCloskey, along with Laura Petracca (drums) and Adrienne Lloyd
(bass, keyboards), this threesome lived, breathed and attempted
to realize their rock n’ roll dreams through a relentless,
workman-like process. They’d rehearse as if there were no
tomorrow, and began gigging throughout the greater Toronto
Soon enough HV would attract the eye of Canadian indie–
rock God Ian Blurton (C’Mon, Change of Heart), and eventually
find themselves in the studio with the big–bearded musician, as
he agreed to produce what would become a Self–Titled demo.
More shows would follow in terms of regular club gigs and
festivals, and by the summer of 2006, the buzz around HV began
to heat up.
Instead of sticking around and waiting for their phones to
ring, the girls of HV quit their jobs, gave up their apartments,
loaded their vehicle, and headed south of the border to
Connecticut for new jobs at an arts camp that would not only
employ the band individually, but also allow them to record demos at the
camp’s studio. What made this trip a little easier was that, as HV
were on the road to their new summer residence, they were
offered a deal with True North Records subsidiary, High Romance
Certainly this was a relief to everyone in the band, especially
for McCloskey, who wasn’t at all interested in any other job than
rocking out. “Songwriting is a huge thing for me — putting that
puzzle together,” says McCloskey. “I’ve been obsessed with
music since I was a little girl and I placed it so high that I never
actually thought that I could do it as a job. So, it’s an amazing thing
for me to be able to do it in my everyday life.
“Sometimes when we’re not touring we have to do those (nine
to five) jobs still. The first week you’re back, it is okay, and then
by the second or third, I get a little bit crazy. I don’t really like waiting tables all that much – it’s kind of a weird thing; you feel like you’re living a double life where you go out and play for these
people, you play your music, do what you love, and people enjoy
it. Then you get home, and you’re talking to a customer about
how they think their chicken is overdone,” she continues.
“It’s a weird thing, but we have to do that at this stage, we’re
still a very young band. At the moment, I’m unemployed – other
than the music thing, so that’s okay. It’s even more of a strange
thing when fans find out where you work and they come into the
restaurant – but you can’t let it affect your ego that much.”
Certainly, serving up their 2007 debut LP The Impatient
Romantic suits McCloskey much better than poorly cooked
chicken. Perhaps most importantly, as HV continues to tour
throughout Canada their reputation begins to expand. You see,
one external focal point of HV, was the fact that all three
members are in fact lesbians.
But while that storyline caught a fair amount of attention
initially, McCloskey and company feel as if they’re finally breaking
through as a rock act that’s becoming much more known for what
they do on stage and in the studio, and not so much what goes
on in their bedrooms.
“We’re going to a lot of places now where we haven’t had as
much press, so they don’t really know anything about us, other
than seeing our live show. We’ve been playing Ontario so much
and I think people in Ontario have actually gotten past that now,”
offers McCloskey. “It’s weird and kind of strange to have to be
like, ‘we don’t want to talk about that.’ We had to start saying
that because we wanted to talk more about the music and less
about who we sleep with.
“I think the people that are going to ask (about it) are pretty
understanding – like, they get it. We haven’t been asked about it in the cities and towns where I think it might be more of a
problem,” she elaborates. “We’ve been to Prince George and
Dawson Creek and I don’t know how many gay people are there. I
don’t know how a lot of people would react. We haven’t had any
feelings of homophobia on this tour. I don’t really like being
called a dyke band, because it pigeon hole’s you. There are so
many other things that we are, why would someone think that
that’s a good label for us? It doesn’t explain anything about the
music, what we are, or what we do.”
Hamilton Spectator Interview
[+ Show ]
Hunter Valentine comes to town By Graham Rockingham The Hamilton Spectator A chance meeting o...Hunter Valentine comes to town
By Graham Rockingham
The Hamilton Spectator
A chance meeting outside a Toronto nightclub brought the rock band Hunter Valentine together with the True North record label and Hamilton producer Julius Butty.
It occurred last spring during the annual North by Northeast music festival. Butty was hoping to catch a show at The Social on Queen Street West. So was True North director of talent acquisition, Graham Stairs. So were the three young women of Hunter Valentine. The show, however, was cancelled without notice.
"We decided to go to the next venue and all piled into the same car," says Hunter Valentine singer and guitarist Kiyomi McCloskey. "Laura (Petracca), our drummer, actually ended up sitting on Julius's lap because there wasn't enough room in the car."
Hunter Valentine demos eventually found their way to Stairs and Butty.
McCloskey knew Butty by reputation. He was known in the business as Juice, the producer behind St. Catharines rock sensation Alexisonfire and their popular acoustic spinoff, City and Colour. Butty was in demand -- "hot" as they say. His name even appeared alongside megahitmakers Bob Rock and David Foster on this year's Juno nomination list for producer of the year (oddly, they lost to Hedley producer Brian Howes).
After listening to the demo, Butty decided to take in a Hunter Valentine show at The Underground in Hamilton (they return there tonight). He liked what he saw -- punk rockers with a fresh sound and only a hint of posturing. McCloskey's throaty but powerful vocals had the allure of a Chrissie Hynde, or better still, a young Carole Pope. And they were capable musicians.
He took the Toronto band out for coffee at the Tim Hortons around the corner from The Underground. Hunter Valentine had found a producer for what would become their debut album, The Impatient Romantic.
The band had already worked out the songs they wanted to record while working at a summer arts camp in Connecticut. Bass player Adrienne Lloyd had worked there during summers while going to school. She landed her two bandmates jobs after deciding they needed to get away from the distractions of Toronto to focus on music.
On the way down to camp, while driving on the I-90, they got a call from True North, offering them a record deal. Canada's oldest independent label wanted to expand beyond its stable of rootsy artists such as Bruce Cockburn. It had some success with Toronto rock band The Golden Dogs. Hunter Valentine seemed a natural follow. Graham Stairs wanted to manage them.
The record deal gave Hunter Valentine's camp getaway all the more meaning. During the day, they worked with the kids. At night, they had their own rehearsal space to work on songs.
They took them to Butty who recorded the guitar and bed tracks at Metalworks Studios in Toronto. Nick Blagona, an internationally respected sound engineer now living in Dundas, worked the controls. The band then shifted to Butty's Silo studio in Stoney Creek for the vocals and overdubs.
"We rented a room, the whole band, in a place called the Fruitland Motel," McCloskey laughs. "It was like, not rock-star living. After about a week, we decided that we would commute from Toronto."
The studio experience went well.
"It's a difficult thing to find, a producer who can really, really listen and who's that talented," McCloskey says about Butty. "If we were stumped, we would all sit down and brainstorm. He's a leader as well as being one of you."
The Impatient Romantic was released this month on True North's new High Romance label. The video for the first single, Typical, is already in rotation at MuchMusic, and the song is getting play on CHUM FM.
The Problem with Devotion
Staten Island Dream Tour
Wait and See
Lying Through Her Teeth
Rotting Love Guts
There are no upcoming dates at this time.