(This article was originally published HERE in SDGLN media partner Gay San Diego.)
San Diego’s House of Blues will welcome a feminine powerhouse to their stage on Jan. 8, when Hunter Valentine kicks off a West Coast tour, opening for fellow Canadians, Sum 41.
Currently on the road to support their third studio album “Collide and Conquer,” Hunter Valentine shot to the top of hip-chick awareness this past summer when they became regulars on season three of Showtime’s “The Real L Word” (TRLW) reality-based series.
With a previous focus on the everyday lives of real lesbians – versus actors – living in Los Angeles, producers of the popular show decided to bring New York into the mix for season three. Enter Hunter Valentine.
The band’s “raucous brand of rock” and its members – Kiyomi McCloskey on lead vocals and guitar, Laura Petracca on drums and Veronica “Vero” Sanchez on bass – brought a new edge to the cable network’s ensemble. Keyboardist Somer Bingham was also on board for the making of “Collide and Conquer,” but is no longer in the band.
As a result of the show, the past year has been a whirlwind for this New York-based trio, especially for McCloskey, whose relationship status had not only changed but whose star power also skyrocketed by the end of TRLW’s viewing season. Her life has changed considerably.
“I haven’t seen my friends in a long time. It’s been quite an adjustment,” she said of her life since the show first hit the air last July.
Although the seasoned musician is no stranger to the limelight, she said watching her life – albeit often clearly edited to suit the needs of the producers – play out on screen for TRLW wasn’t easy, though she has no regrets.
“It was difficult to watch,” McCloskey said. “Artists are sensitive. It was tough to be framed as a villain. I realize it’s the way it works but it’s not really me.”
Aside from touring to support “Collide and Conquer” and her involvement in various other new projects that have come her way, her appearance plate has also gotten very full. In early December she popped up with girlfriend Lauren Bedford Russell, whom she met under steamy circumstances on TRLW, at Cyndi Lauper’s “Home for the Holidays” event in New York City that benefitted homeless LGBT youth.
“Cyndi has always been around; we share the same manager,” McCloskey said on how she got included. And though they share a producer, Canadian Greig Nori, McCloskey said Hunter Valentine’s teaming with Sum 41 for this tour wasn’t a product of those relationships; it was simply “a good fit.”
McCloskey has been in San Diego several times recently, starting with a quick trip over Pride week in July, another with Hunter Valentine at The Griffin in October and, more recently, visiting with Russell over the holidays for a family wedding. In July she posed in Hillcrest for photos with photographer, Cornelia Kurtew.
At that time, McCloskey and Russell were still trying to keep their relationship a secret for the sake of the show.
Russell keeps herself busy as CEO of her own Lyon Fine Jewelry, as well as a charity bracelet line that has benefitted causes close to her heart, such as Equality, Rock the Vote and the Obama/Biden campaign. Though she often accompanies Hunter Valentine on the road, McCloskey said Russell’s own busy schedule may preclude her from returning to San Diego for the House of Blues show.
Despite the fact that Hunter Valentine was in the studio recording “Collide and Conquer” during the filming of TRLW and the record was released in September to coordinate with the flow of the season, McCloskey said that while not much of the footage actually made it to the screen, participation in the show has definitely helped broaden their fan base.
Her favorite track to perform live from the new album is “Lonely Crusade,” she said, since it describes “the beauty of touring” while also explaining how difficult it is to be away from loved ones. She said the rock ballad “Crying” started out as “a guitar riff” she “wrote while drunk,” and then trusted her intuition to push it through to the song she is proud of today.
With a presence that makes a statement in any environment, McCloskey said she does not appreciate generalizations and does not fall victim to older gender roles or stereotypes.
“Sometimes I like to go out in a suit with my hair slicked back and other times I like to show off my cleavage,” she said. “I don’t believe in denying my sexuality. In our community, our whole basis should be about the person.”
This tour consists of a formidable 17 gigs in 30 days, and includes a handful of independent bookings along the way. Smaller venues have done well for the band, as San Diego music fans may have also caught them at local Uptown venues such as Soda Bar in 2011 and Bar Pink in 2010. All things considered, McCloskey admits performing at House of Blues will switch things up a bit.
“[It’s] is a way bigger venue and it could be intimidating to our fans, but I want to say that we really need [their] support and we really want to see them,” she said. “Don’t let the size of the venue or the boy bands keep you home.”
91X presents Hunter Valentine, I Am Dynamite and Sum 41 on Jan. 8 at the House of Blues, located at 1055 Fifth Ave. in the Gaslamp Quarter, Downtown. Doors open at 6:30 pm and the show starts at 7:30 pm. For tickets, click HERE.
For more information about Hunter Valentine, click HERE .
Morgan M. Hurley is Contributing Editor of SDGLN, Editor of San Diego Downtown News and Assistant Editor of Gay San Diego and San Diego Uptown News.