The Pretty Reckless currently has a hell of a lot to be happy about. The band's latest album, Going to Hell, has already produced two hit tunes, "Heaven Knows" and "Fucked Up World," and the group just kicked off the second leg of its North American tour.
It's no surprise that Taylor Momsen, who once acted in Gossip Girl, is heading straight to the top. What is surprising is that she's been able to do it with aggressive rock 'n' roll. While most music geared to 21-year-old girls is total "popcorn" pop, as Momsen calls it, she told us she's on a much different musical path.
As for whether we'll be seeing Momsen on the big or little screen again, the answer is, probs not. We found this all out and so much more when speaking with Momsen before the tour brings the Pretty Reckless back to Fort Lauderdale's Revolution Live on September 21.
New Times: What can people expect from your live show at Revolution?
Taylor Momsen: Well, my standard is a very loud rock 'n' roll show, but we've played there before and it was awesome. It was a great show, great time. This time around we've developed a show with a bunch of different sections and there's a lot more songs. It's very heavy weighted on Going To Hell but we include songs from Hit Me Like a Man and Light Me Up, so it's an actual fucking show now (laughs). And it is the day after the I Heart Radio Festival in Vegas, so I'm going to be fucked up but (laughs) everyone should be fucked up with me.
What's the best part about performing live?
Playing. Playing is the best part. It's so much fun to get on stage and crank amps and play and we have a setlist that we throw up on stage but we can deviate from that if we feel like it. And connecting with the audience is always amazing and hearing your fans sing your songs back to you is the greatest compliment you can get as a songwriter. So there's kind of no down side. But playing is the highlight of every gig, unless you suck (laughs) and then you just want to redo it.
I love that you love rock and that you care about making good music that's raw and real and doesn't cater to music industry trends. You're 21 and a lot of girls your age are into pop. I love that you love Nirvana and Garbage. Do you think rock is going to make a comeback on mainstream radio anytime soon?
I don't know. You know my line is, I don't think rock can ever die, I think it's just resting at the moment (laughs). I think it comes down to, you know -- I say rock 'n' roll all the time, cause it is. But at the end of the day, it comes down to good songs and just good music that takes time to create by a real artist and not having a song by a manufactured artist for the machine. Like no more popcorn. Popcorn is great for the movies and for two hours, it's entertaining, but at the end of the day I think people want a little bit of depth in their lives.
Personally, I think pop is for kids. I think it's kids music for kids, and I'm not that kind of artist, and I'm not making that type of music. So if the kids can relate to what I'm trying to say or musically what I'm trying to do, then I've succeeded as a songwriter.
Which is why touring is so fun, because you get up on stage, and you know I write a record, and I go away for a year or however long it takes and isolate myself from the world to write a record, and then you put it out into the world. And you have no idea how the response is going to be, and then you go play it live and you see how many people have actually not just heard the songs but connected to them and are responding to them and understand them on multiple levels. It's the highest compliment.
What was the first CD you bought as a kid?
Well I didn't actually have to buy a lot of CDs as a kid because I grew up on my dad's vinyl collection. So he already kind of had all the great music (laughs). He's a big rock 'n' roll fan, and I grew up on the Beatles, and they're my favorite band of all time. They did everything, and I worship them.
So I grew up on the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, the Who, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, and then as I got a little bit older in my teens, I got into the '90s like Nirvana, Soundgarden. We just played with Soundgarden, and it was my favorite gig ever because I fucking love Soundgarden. And then I got into Pearl Jam and all that shit, and then I went back to the earlier blues. I always get the question asked to me, do you have anything embarrassing on your iPod, and I'm always like, no I only like good music. I like artists who have sat there and are actually saying something.
I saw your music video for "Fucked Up World" and first of all, it's an awesome song.
Thank you, it just went number one yesterday, so we have two number ones on the rock charts right now. Currently "Heaven Knows" is number one on mainstream rock and "Fucked Up World" is number one on active rock. We have two number ones on different rock charts from the same record which is pretty awesome.
I didn't even know if this record was going to come out, and I certainly didn't know if there'd be any hits on it. And now we have two number ones, so it's cool in my mind. I'm not gonna lie.
I wanted to talk about that video. What was the concept behind it and the message you were trying to put out?
Yeah, well I wrote the treatment, I co-directed it with Jon J who I also directed with on the "Heaven Knows" video and wrote the treatment for that. The "Fucked Up World" video was meant to be a take on pop culture. That's cynical in some way, I guess. It's a very sarcastic video in that it's a fucked up world and everybody is smiling about it on the beach in tie-dye. And what are you going to do? It's a fucked up world. I'm not lying.