by Heather Cassell

Wanna live like a rock star? Think it’s all parties, trashing guitars, and long bus trips with groovy people hanging out and along for the ride? Trash those fantasies and get a real peek inside the life of an emerging punk rock girl band, Hunter Valentine on the “Real L Word”. They tell it straight and play it loud.

“I really like loud rock and roll and that’s the way I see myself playing music for the rest of my life,” says Kiyomi McCloskey, 27, front-woman and guitarist of the all girl punk rock band Hunter Valentine.

“I’ve always wanted to have a band,” says Kiyomi, who up until teaming up with drummer Laura Petracca eight years ago to form Hunter Valentine was charting the music world as a solo acoustic artist.

That all changed with a chance meeting at a crowded bar. The two women bonded over cheap bear and rail whiskey and a band was born. The third time is a charm, it was the third band for Kiyomi, who started bands Trash Before Class and Dirty Remedy before Hunter Valentine formed.

The two women were later joined by other band members, most recently bassist Veronica Sanchezand guest keyboardist, Somer Bingham.

“I still play shows on my own just to keep my chops up as an acoustic player, but I love playing with the band it just takes it to that next level of sound,” Kiyomi says.

It’s been an organic and slow evolution for the band that appears to be on the verge of hitting the high life.

Hunter Valentine and the cast of the "Real L Word's" third season on Showtime. (Photo: Courtesy of the "Real L Word")
Hunter Valentine and the cast of the “Real L Word’s” third season on Showtime. (Photo: Courtesy of the “Real L Word”)

This year, the band joined the regular cast of the “Real L Word” on Showtime.

On the final show of the season, airing this Sunday (September 9 at 1 a.m.) the show’s audience will watch Hunter Valentine audition and select its next keyboardist just in time for the release of their new album and fall tour.

The girls are gearing up for the release of their latest album, “Collide and Conquer”, that will be available on October 23.
Fans can catch a sample of Hunter Valentine’s much anticipated new album with their single, “Liar Liar”, at the band’s website. Famed Canadian producer and Treble Charger front-man Greig Nori contributed to the creation of the band’s fourth album, which is sure to surprise and thrill fans as the band pushed its boundaries building upon the last releases “The Impatient Romantic [Explicit]” (2007) and “Lessons from the Late Night” (2010).

Fans will also be able to catch Hunter Valentine around North America this fall and potentially in Australia and Japan in the near future.

Passion and sweat

Kiyomi began learning how to play the guitar when she was 12 years old, but a strict and technical instructor nearly killed her musical inclinations. The “love for music didn’t click at that point” in spite of still having a “really high respect for it,” she says. It wasn’t until a year later that her passion for rock n’ roll took hold under a more creative and supportive guitarist and song writer who gave her the support and guidance she needed to envision herself as a songwriter and having a music career that is now 10 years in the making.

“I became obsessed with song writing and I got really addicted to song writing,” says Kiyomi, who was born and raised in Toronto, Canada, but now resides in Brooklyn, New York in the United States.
The band has gone through two different record labels and produced three studio albums during the past eight years.

Hunter Valentine is on the road a lot booking more than 200 gigs a year touring Austria, Canada, Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Kiyomi credits her bandmates for keeping her grounded during long periods of time away from home and loved ones.

“It’s hard to be on the road sometimes. It’s hard to be away from your family. It’s hard to be away from your partner. Basically, my bandmates keep me ground and focused.”

Then there’s the fans that inspire and energize her to keep playing.
“Every time when you get to a new city where people are waiting to see you play music that really makes me want to keep going,” says Kiyomi, who loves performing in London and in Austin, Texas.

Raised to hit the road, Kiyomi adds, “those places are all amazing, but I find things that I love about every city that we go to.”
When Kiyomi is in town, serve up your best dish because she’s a foodie who loves to meet people.

“I really love discovering what a city is known for in the culinary world,” says Kiyomi, who doesn’t care if it’s a hot dog or something else, she just wants to know “what they are known for” and exploring the city.

She also enjoys meeting the fans at the different shows. Hunter Valentine has a strong female following, as expected, but a lot guys and people of various ages turn out to rock out to the band, she says.

“It’s just a really thrilling feeling. I feel very grateful for that privilege,” Kiyomi says about the opportunity she has to travel and meet people all over the world.

She’s also grateful that Hunter Valentine and her own personal career has had a steady upward growth rather than crashing the music scene with a one hit wonder catapulting the band’s whole career, Kiyomi says.

“It’s just been a lot of hard work focus and dedication and it’s finally starting to pay off. We are getting recognized on an international level because of the ‘Real L word’ and stuff. We are pretty happy with the way things are going right now.”

Kiyomi McCloskey, lead singer and guitarist of Hunter Valentine. (Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Valentine)
Kiyomi McCloskey, lead singer and guitarist of Hunter Valentine. (Photo: Courtesy of Hunter Valentine)

It’s that slow growth into a musical career that she believes gets depicted in the show. She hopes seeing Hunter Valentine’s trials and triumphs play out in the show inspires other girls who want a music career that it’s more than a dream, but a reality.

“I hope that I can set the example that it doesn’t just have to be a dream, that it can become a very realistic career choice for young women,” says Kiyomi, pointing out that it’s not all rock n’ roll.

“It’s like a lot of hard work and it takes a lot of focus. I think that the show portrays the bands struggle in that way. I hope that we can be role models to young girls who are aspiring to be working musicians.”
The cameras follow the band in the personal lives as well as out onto the road, showing the behind the scenes of their performance at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.

Catch up with Kiyomi and Hunter Valentine on the road at

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