Q&A: Hunter Valentine’s Laura Petracca

As the band gets ready to play ICandy on Tuesday, we talked to the drummer about the new album and The Real L Word

Veronica Sanchez, Kiyomi McCloskey and Laura Petracca of Hunter Valentine

Hunter Valentine has been playing as a band together for eight years. Ever since the all-female group got their start in Toronto, they began attracting a loyal fan base. With ever more punk-infused songs under their belts – not to mention a new album called Collide and Conquer – things blew up for the Sapphic sisters when they appeared on this season’s The Real L Word on Showtime.

We talked to Laura Petracca, the band’s drummer and co-founder, about how the drama is playing out (the foursome has become a threesome after letting the keyboardist go), what inspired the new album and how they’re really dealing with the new-found fame as they get ready to play ICandy this Tuesday, Sept. 11 (9 p.m.).

What impact has appearing on this season’s The L Word had on the band?

The band has had a great response to the show. We have reached a new audience and are getting the music out to people that haven’t ever heard of us. Also, for the fans that do know us or have heard of us, [they] get to know us a little more intimately.

What do hear from your longtime fans about the band’s appearance on the Showtime series?

Our longtime fans are so proud of us! They continue to support us and come to all the shows. We love all of our fans, the new ones and the lifers.

What are the best and worst things about navigating the music world today?

It’s always amazing getting to travel the world and play music to such a variety of people. There are always going to be negative sides of everything you do, you just have to keep your head up and an open mind.

What musicians have inspired you over the years?

Laura Petracca (courtesy of Hunter Valentine)

Keith Moon has been a huge inspiration to me, I think Dominic Howard from MUSE is an amazing drummer, and obviously John Bonham.

You helped form the band in Canada. What inspired Hunter Valentine to move to New York?

The band was formed in 2004 in Toronto. In 2009, we decided to move to New York City and shop our self-funded record Lessons from the Late Night. Before we knew it, we were signed to Tommy Boy and touring non-stop in
the U.S., Europe and Canada.

What influence has that move had on the music and the band?

Moving to New York City gave the band a new sense of inspiration and motivation. We made many changes and many doors have opened for us since making the leap.

What inspired the new album?

There were a lot of elements to the new album Collide and Conquer. We had new member/writer Veronica Sanchez join our process, we worked with an amazing producer, Greig Nori, and had a new vibe in the band. We also asked Somer Bingham to help write keys and to bring her flare to the record. Kiyomi and I had made some major changes to the band and really stepped outside the box. This is my favorite HV album to date!

What’s on your own playlist these days?

Funny, right now I am listening to Sloan’s “Twice Removed” while I write this. Otherwise I almost always have MUSE, Radiohead or Metric on.

What first inspired you to pick up the drum sticks?

My uncle and grandfather are drummers. I was exposed to drumming from such a young age and was just curious. I had a love affair with drums my whole life. There were moments where I would give it up for a year or two but somehow it always ended up in my lap again. I just accepted the fact that I didn’t choose the drums, they chose me.

What’s the craziest thing that’s ever happened to you during a tour or live show?

I once had a fan throw a pair of under wear at me during our set. I thought it was a nice gesture.

Any regrets about being on the show – and did you ever worried about being portrayed honestly?

The Real L Word was an amazing experience and I would do it over again. I was a little worried about what they would edit together because you are being filmed for hours a day and for months at a time. You get really comfortable and forget that you are being filmed so you do and say things you may regret. I am happy that they kept us honest
and showed a little bit of what it’s like to be in a touring band.

Biggest misconception about you or the band?

When the first few episodes came out, some of TRLW fans thought that Kiyomi was acting as a dictator and bullying the band. What people don’t realize is this is our sense of humor. We actually all act that way and joke about it, it’s just that Kiyomi’s parts were edited into the show. We have a very loving band dynamic and care very much about
each other. We fight like siblings and know how to be together, I mean we spend almost everyday playing music!

Hunter Valentine, Sept. 11, 9 p.m., ICandy, 254 South 12th Street, 267-324-3500.