Kiyomi McCloskey: Lead Guitarist for Hunter Valentine

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Over the last 8 years, the Toronto-based female band Hunter Valentine have proven themselves to be one of the hardest-working bands in the world, thanks to their no-nonsense, no-frills brand of rock ‘n roll.  And their stock only got bigger last year when they were featured on the third season of Showtime’s reality TV show “The Real L Word.”

The guitar-playing, singing and songwriting talents of co-founder Kiyomi McCloskey are certainly a big reason why Hunter Valentine rocks. Kiyomi is joined by the band’s other co-founder, drummer Laura Petracca, current bassist Veronica Sanchez and guitarist-keyboardist Aimee Bessada.

I asked Kiyomi a few quick questions while she was between stops on Hunter Valentine’s latest tour.

GGM: First, Kiyomi, you’ve played guitar since you were young.  Which guitars among those that you’ve played over the years would you consider to be your favorites, in terms of either performance or what could be called “sentimental value”?

Kiyomi:  My favourite guitar is definitely my 1961 Gibson 335.

GGM: Have there been any moments, good or bad, that have stood out for you during the 8 years or so that Hunter Valentine has been around?

Kiyomi: Great moments have been sharing a stage with Cyndi Lauper, selling out venues across  North America, and finally getting to play Japan.  Bad moments have been flaky labels, van breakdowns and screaming matches with band mates.

GGM: Last fall, you wrote a column for Huffington Post about how being on Showtime’s “The Real L Word” resulted in Hunter Valentine “reaching people in places that we never would have imagined.”  Are you continuing to experience that impact in your current tour with Sum 41 and I Am Dynamite?

Kiyomi: Yes! This tour has been amazing. Our fan base is growing every night right before our eyes. It really is a dream come true.

GGM: One of the tracks on your second album from 2010, “Lessons from the Late Night,” was “Revenge,” a hard-rocking tune you co-wrote with veteran songwriter Holly Knight.  How did you get to team up with the writer whose credits include “Love is a Battlefield” for Pat Benatar and “Never” for Heart?   

Kiyomi: Wow. Good research!  No one has ever asked that. I had a manager at the time who though that we would be a good match up for writing. I loved working with Holly. She is a true artist.  I hope we get to write together again in the future

GGM: As far as your most recent album “Collide and Conquer” is concerned, one of the tracks on that album, “Liar, Liar,” is quite a rocker.  I saw a video of it on YouTube.  Who came up with the idea for a craps table scene in the “Liar, Liar” video?

Kiyomi: It was actually the director, Kevin J. Custer. I plan on directing a couple of videos in the future.

GGM: Joan Jett is said to be one of your many influences.  Though she missed out on being inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame for this year, do you think she will eventually get her induction?

Kiyomi: She better!

GGM: Finally, with Hunter Valentine playing over 200 shows a year on average, will there come a time when you and the rest of the band decide to take it easy and play fewer shows?

Kiyomi: Definitely, I have plans to have a family and actually be able to live in a home that I own. I want to get married, have kids…the whole deal. Music will always be in my life though.

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As mentioned in this interview, Hunter Valentine is currently on tour with Sum 41 and I Am Dynamite.  You can find out about their upcoming stops, and more, at www.huntervalentine.com.  They’re also on Facebook at www.facebook.com/huntervalentine, as well as on Twitter @huntervalentine.

Photo credits:  Leslie Van Stelten

Album Cover:  Left to right: Veronica Sanchez, Kiyomi McCloskey and Laura Petracca of Hunter Valentine, from the cover of their 2012 album “Collide and Conquer”

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Born in Houston, Texas, and currently based in St. Petersburg, Florida, Steve's careers have ranged from restaurants to media production. He has also written online columns about entertainment and technology, as well as how musicians don't need a major label to be empowered. The first major rock concert Steve attended was Heart back in 1977.

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