Q&A with former “Gossip Girl,” TAYLOR MOMSEN of THE PRETTY RECKLESS talks about the bands new album, “Going To Hell,” and more.
Posted On 22 Aug 2014
Tag: All Access, All Access Music, All Access Music Group, Amy Lee, Artist Interview, Blondie, Going To Hell, Gossip Girl, Heaven Knows, Jenny Humphrey, Jon J, Kato Khandwala, King Animal, Led Zeppelin, Papa Roach, Paramore, Pink Floyd, Razor & Tie, Soundgarden, Strawberry Fields, Taylor Momsen, The Beatles, The Pretty Reckless, The Who
Hell remains a source of inspiration for all kinds of art. It’s impossible to even catalog how many books, movies, plays, and records have been written on the subject. However, the world’s fascination with the big ‘ole inferno never dwindles or dissipates.
The Pretty Reckless‘ second full-length album Going to Hell flirts with those themes, most notably on the raucous and roaring title track. Over a twisting and turning riff and bombastic rhythm, frontwoman Taylor Momsen confidently announces, “I’m going to Hell.”
“We had so many insane things happening in our lives, we wanted to sum everything up in one phrase,” she recalls. “Going to Hell felt really appropriate. I grew up Catholic and did the whole Catholic school thing, so it’s in my vernacular. We used religion as a metaphor, but the track relates to problems everyone faces. I think this is the perfect time for us to be doing what we’re doing.”
Even if the making of Going to Hell often felt like some kind of divine prank, one senses this is their moment. After two years on the road The Pretty Reckless—Momsen, Ben Phillips [guitar], Mark Damon [bass], and Jamie Perkins [drums]—had risen through rock ‘n’ roll’s ranks to become a profound, and often polarizing, presence. The quartet sold over 350,000 albums and over 1 million digital tracks performing as headliners all around the globe and supporting acts such as Guns N’ Roses and Marilyn Manson.
Ultimately Going To Hell is rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form. The Pretty Reckless holds nothing back. “We did this album with the mindset of having no boundaries,”Momsen concludes. “We didn’t follow any formulas or trends. We said anything we wanted to say. This is us.”
Read more about The Pretty Reckless from All Access Music writer, Nicole DeRosa‘s interview with the well spoken songstress, Taylor Momsen below.
Where does this interview find you today? What’s on the agenda today besides this interview?
We’re in the middle of rehearsals for our Fall tour of North America and the UK. We’ll be out for three months and we’re adding a bunch of songs off of our new record ‘Going to Hell’ and maybe some new songs so we’re playing all day every day for the next couple weeks. Then we start the tour in Florida on September 5th.
When did you start putting the band together? How did you guys all meet?
I started looking to put a band together six or seven years ago. I met our producer Kato who introduced me to our guitarist Ben, through him I met Mark and Jamie. Ben and I started writing songs together and after the first time the four of us played together it just clicked. We’re like a family now.
For your second studio album, Going To Hell, (Razor & Tie) you worked with rock producer Kato Khandwala (Blondie, Paramore, Papa Roach) How was that experience?
Kato is also like a family member at this point. We have been working together since the beginning. Communication is key when trying to get your ideas recorded and Kato understands us musically and personally. It’s a great experience, we’re always having a good time.
Okay, here is a fun one: If you had the opportunity to work with any act/artist from the past, present or future, who would it be and why? If you could spend the day with them, where would you go…and what would you do?
I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of my idols and most of the time it has the reverse effect so I like to keep my heroes exactly where I created them, in my head.
What was the inspiration for your monster first single, “Heaven Knows” ? Did you come up with the treatment for the video as well or was that a collaboration with the director?
‘Heaven Knows’ started as a simple hymn where I would sing a line and a class of kids would sing it back to me. It was just going to be a short piece of music connecting two of the other songs. Then these characters came out and eventually a story formed making it a full song. I wrote the video treatment and co directed it with Jon J in Miami, it was a lot of work but we finally succeeded.
Lyrically, you delve into what some might consider “dark” topics. As you once said: Sex. Drugs. Death. Religion. What is your approach to songwriting? How do you capture the inspiration when it comes?
Inspiration is a gift and a curse because you have no control over it. If the idea is good enough it will do whatever it takes to come out. When it’s real inspiration it feels like the artist is just a conduit for this creative force called an idea. It’s making something out of nothing, it’s intimidating and cathartic at the same time. I don’t consider it dark, I consider it honest. All these things exist, I’m just talking about them.
What’s your take on Rock Radio today? Do you have any favorite on-air radio moments you can share with us?
I love rock radio. I know it has suffered in the last decade or two with the model of the modern music business, but eventually people will need it again and the labels and corporations won’t be able to hold it back. We just finished doing the radio festivals in America, that was a great experience to see hundreds of thousands of people rocking in the free world.
What was the first song you fell in love with growing up and why?
Strawberry Fields by the Beatles, it’s just magical sounding, as is all their work. They are the kings of what we do.
Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist?
I don’t listen a lot to modern music. I’m a big fan of the 60’s renaissance period of music, Beatles, Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd. The newest record I’ve become absolutely obsessed with is Soundgarden’s ‘King Animal’, they just don’t give a fuck about anything but the music so they end up making the most simple yet complex music out there right now, it’s stunning.
The Pretty Reckless has toured with Marilyn Manson and Evanescence. What was that experience like touring with those guys? Can you share any memorable stories from the road?
It’s always good to watch more established artists perform. You learn a lot about performing and communicating with the audience watching how other people have accomplished it. Road stories stay on the road, but Amy (Lee) just had a baby so congrats to her!
What’s on tap next for The Pretty Reckless?
We’re doing a North American and UK tour starting in September through November. Lots of work and travel. It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll.
To stay up to the latest with The Pretty Reckless, visit their website here