Countdown to Warped Tour: Q&A With Taylor Momsen of the Pretty Reckless
We've saved the best for last in our Countdown to Warped Tour. During what we'd like to call "Warped Week," you can expect to get to know chick drummers and some of your favorite Warped Tour veterans. But today, it's all about our favorite Gossip Girl.
Taylor Momsen is not afraid to tell it like it is. She's transformed her good girl, "Little Jenny" image into a grungy, lingerie-wearing, speak-her-mind rocker, and her sultry voice and power ballads don't sound like they're coming from a 16-year-old. She's gotten a lot of press for the way she dresses and what she says, and her latest conquest is being named a spokesmodel for Madonna's new line for Macy's, "Material Girl."
The youngest cast member on the hit CW series and now frontwoman for the Pretty Reckless spoke to New Times recently about not being Hannah Montana, being a down-and-dirty goth chick, and going to her first rock show when she was 9 years old.
New Times: How have you been handling everything, presswise? I've
noticed that you've already been written up based on what you've been
wearing and stuff like that on Warped Tour.
Taylor Momsen: Well, I don't have a computer, so I
don't really know anything about it. [laughs]. But the tour's a blast.
We're still working out all the kinks, but it's awesome.
Are there any bands that you were looking forward to seeing when you first started Warped Tour?
Well, I haven't had a chance to see anyone, hardly. A couple of seconds of
a couple of people's sets, but... I dunno. Mark and Jamie wanted to go
see a bunch of bands. I'm gonna go check out wherever they tell me to
Are there any bands that you were a fan of as a little kid that you were really excited to meet?
When I was a little kid, I was a Beatles fan, and unfortunately John Lennon is dead.
I read somewhere that you were actually up for the title
role of Hannah Montana. You'd be leading a pretty different life if
you'd taken that gig.
Yeah. I was 8 years old. You never know where life's gonna
take you. It would probably be a different show if I was a part of it.
I'm trying to picture your voice as Hannah Montana. I think it would probably be a show that an older crowd would watch.
It probably wouldn't have been the success that it was. You know, I like rock music [laughs].
I think it would've been; it just would've brought in a rock 'n roll crowd.
Yeah, I dunno if it would've lasted. I have a -- well, I won't say what I was about to say [laughs].
I have to say, I'm a Gossip Girl fan, and I was sad to see you leave on the Season 3 finale. Will you be back?
Oh, thank you. I'm contractually obligated not to speak about it. [pauses, then laughs] But, umm, thank you for watching.
Little J was one of my favorite characters. That was a
pretty crazy character transition from innocent Brooklynite to
manipulative bad girl throughout the series.
It was a really interesting character. She's the one that...
though she's the youngest, she really has a... you know, you can watch
Jenny grow up, and the way they write story lines and everything, as
opposed to the other characters who start just as fucking drug addicts
[laughs], you know? It was part of her transformation, and it was a
really fun character to play.
I feel like we watched you grow up, also. Like little by
little, the wardrobe changes that Little J was making you were making
Oh. You were watching me fire my stylist is what you were seeing. I
was always the fucking gothy chick in high school, and then when I
started doing red carpets, they hire makeup artists and all these
people to fucking dress you up, and I finally just said "Fuck you" and
started dressing myself.
Yeah, I noticed you went -- not goth, but you went a little bit grungier, like with your makeup and the way you dressed.
I've always worn very heavy eye makeup, and when the show started,
there wasn't really much to stay. They hired all these people to back
me up, and I just couldn't take it anymore.
Yeah, you were dressing really girlie and innocent.
I went back to my ethics, as well [laughs].
I actually first heard of the Pretty Reckless about a year
ago, but I definitely didn't expect such a sultry voice coming from
you. What inspired you to start the Pretty Reckless to begin with?
I know that music was always your passion, right?
Yeah. I mean I've been listening to rock 'n roll since I was born. I
was originally a Beatles fan, a Zeppelin fan -- you know, stuff my dad
used to play all the time. I grew up with great music around me, and it
was a drive for me to write songs since I was like 5 years old...
since I was born, basically. Yeah, music, it keeps me sane, keeps me
together. I was really introverted and shy -- I still am [laughs].
And writing is an outlet for me to keep it all and my thoughts
Yeah, I saw you being quoted as saying "I couldn't put out an album when I was 8."
Yeah, 'cause I was very, very little and singing. This isn't
something new. It's not like I decided to put out a record overnight.
I wrote the record over a year with my guitar player, and now it's just
coming out. So now we're first hearing it, and it sounds great.
What do you think that that album would've sounded like if you would've actually released it when you were 8?
Probably similar; I just would've had a higher voice [laughs].
And you wrote all the songs in the album, right?
Yeah, the band and I write all our songs together, and it's cool.
Where does that inspiration come from?
Uh, my inspiration kind of comes from everywhere. I wish I knew.
[laughs]. Every song we've written differently. It's just when we have
an idea or a vibe or something, we go on that... having something to
Are the White Stripes still a big influence for you? What was it like seeing them when you were 9?
The White Stripes are awesome. It was the first rock show I'd been
to, and just the loud guitars, the drums, the ethic of seeing a rock
show compared to seeing a Britney Spears show, and listening to a rock
record was just one of the coolest experiences, and it made me really
want to do that.
And you saw that when you were about 9, right? That
sounds like a really cool dad to take you to a White Stripes concert
for your first big rock show.
I was definitely 8 or 9. Yeah, my mom was pissed. We were in the
mosh pit [laughs]. I'm not kidding. We were right in the front. It was
superloud. It was like the best thing ever. My dad loves great music,
and he's a big influence I guess for me. You know, all the greats, Van
Halen, the Beatles, Zeppelin, and everyone, so I grew up listening to
that because of his record collection.
What was it like to be in the mosh pit when you were so young?
I was tiny. I'd find my dad and he'd push everyone away. I was just standing right up front.
So what can we expect from your new album, Light Me Up?
It's a very song-driven record. It's a rock record. It's just very,
very rock. Each song has its own thing to it. I think there's something
for everyone in it. But it's a very musical record and very
song-driven, so, you know. I dunno. I want people to hear it.
What kind of songs are in it? Is it all sort of like power-girl rock songs?
It's very diverse. There's an acoustic ballad; there's strings on
the record. It's very diverse. So even songs that are full-frontal
floor-to-floor rock songs. It's very versatile, but it's all very rock.
Get the Music Newsletter
Find out about upcoming concerts and special offers happening in the South Florida music scene.