When Hunting Hearts, an “unapologetically queer punk band” from the South of England hit the ground running during their first year together, recording an EP and touring through multiple gay Prides, as well as Northamptonshire’s Queer Spirit Festival, they were met with an excited fan base, eager for more.
There are so few punk bands whose LGBT identities remain at the forefront of what they do. Hunting Hearts is a group centered around representation for queer people in the music scene, and in bassist Devin Jay Valentine’s words, “until it’s normal, we will be loud about who we are and what we do.”
Meet Beck, Lucy, Devin, and Matthew aka Hunting Hearts. #GAYNRD‘s Cole Hayes spoke to the band.
How did you all come together?
Beck: The concept for Hunting Hearts started back in 2018. I reached out to Devin and said, “do you know any LGBT musicians” and I think we had our first rehearsal in October. Then, the first rehearsal we had was right next to Lucy’s local shop. So, Devin and I had known Lucy through other means and met up outside the studio.
Lucy: As Beck said, we sort of met up through serendipitous circumstances outside the local shop and a week or two later, I showed up at their rehearsal after responding to their Facebook post.
Lucy explains she hadn’t played in a while and ended up borrowing one of Beck’s old Ibanez’s. Needless to say, the rehearsal went well and Lucy was there to stay. But, if you’ve ever been in a band, you know how difficult it can be to find a drummer.
For little while, the band worked with a drummer from another group while recording their EP Pride Not Prejudice.
Beck: We were like, wow! In order to bring these songs to life live, we’re gonna need a drummer.
Devin: We looked hard for a drummer but we wanted them to be a part of the LGBT community. But there are so few drummers to begin with. We had a few auditions and it just didn’t gel. Until we found Matthew.
Matthew: The idea would be to have someone who was LGBT and plays drums but I said, “Hey what about me?” They got back to me and said, “This could work.” The first rehearsal we had actually went really well and they said. “Wow, you can actually hold a beat!”
Beck teases by saying, “Oh you’re not a massive homophobe? Okay, you can stay!”
The band recognized that allies could also be included in the kind of people they were looking to work with, and so, Matthew came onboard.
Matthew: It was like jumping onto a moving train because the others had already gotten everything set up. Festivals, gay prides, all laid out for that summer so I had to learn the tracks as fast as possible.
What I dig about Hunting Hearts is how raw and true the band is, not only in their sound, but in who they are.
I love that you have, “unapologetically queer punk rock” written on your Facebook page. I feel like there aren’t a lot of artists that take on that strong identity. How has that energy been received by the audience?
Beck: Our first gig was for Trans Day of Remembrance that year…and we did it for an audience that was primarily part of the community. There were moments weeks after that we realized that this is actually something the community needs. The attention that we got from that gig was so positive and proactive that we then just started gigging. We were thinking, “we have to be ready now. We have to be ready with whatever we have.”
But sometimes, at a gig, you see someone who is a bit rough around the edges, holding a pint, and giving you a stare and you think they’re not going to be okay with it. But then afterwards, will come up to us and say, “hey, I think what you’re doing is really cool.”
If you listen to just one Hunting Hearts’ song, check “From Underdog Kids, to Every Rad Fem” below.
With your debut record, is there a primary message?
Beck: Yeah, there’s some interwoven concepts. One of them being them about the topic of relationships. Relationships with the people around us, our community, and between us as individuals. Another big message is about confidence, autonomy and self-belief. Any one of us could be in each other’s shoes. We can change for the better, together.
What do you want people to know about your campaign?
Devin: The campaign is going on until the end of December, and we’ve been reaching out to media hoping to get more publicity on it because, at the end of the day, it’s important to do it for people who could benefit from seeing people like us making this kind of music.
Beck: Rock has always had an alternative culture anyway but there’s always been this kind of like being trans or being queer doesn’t come out until later and then it’s a big thing, whereas us we’re like, “No, we’re here, we’re doing it.” Please support us because it could mean the difference between some kid thinking they’re alone. It’s the difference between that, and them realizing that this is something they can do too, or at least something they could listen to that helps them realize they’re not alone.
During the COVID era, music and the arts are more important than ever, and while safely navigating strict regulations, this group pushes forward, pouring their hearts into their debut album which they plan to start recording early 2021. Help support this amazing talent by visiting their Indiegogo Crowdfunding page.
There’s one more thing Hunting Hearts would like visitors to the page to know. “Money isn’t everything. We believe that. While it does help, ultimately, publicity is priceless. Even if you can’t contribute to the Crowdfunder, just sharing it out helps a great deal. We understand that everyone struggling right now. The pandemic has done a number on us all…but most of us turn to art when the world is dark. In our most desperate moments, as a community, there is a song and dance, music and camaraderie.”