10 Questions with ... Taylor Momsen
September 23, 2014
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
Razor & Tie Records rockers The Pretty Reckless have been the breakthrough new Rock band of 2014. Led by former "Gossip Girl" actress Taylor Momsen, this year the band has produced two #1 songs at Active Rock ("Heaven Knows and "Messed Up World") from their second studio album "Going To Hell." Nicole DeRosa, one of my colleagues here at All Access is a big fan and last month interviewed Taylor before The Pretty Reckless were getting ready for this Fall's North American and U.K. tour.
1) Where does this interview find you today? What's on the agenda besides this interview?
We're in the middle of rehearsals for our Fall tour of North America and the U.K. 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.
2) 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, and 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.
3) 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 been a great experience. We're always having a good time.
4) 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.
5) What was the inspiration for your 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.
6) Lyrically, you delve into what some might consider "dark" topics, which you listed as sex. Drugs, death and 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
7) 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 radio festivals across America. That was a great experience to see hundreds of thousands of people rocking in the free world.
8) 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.
9) Who are some of the new artists who inspire you? Who is in your current playlist? Any "guilty pleasure" songs or songs we might be surprised to find on your playlist?
I don't listen a lot to modern music. I'm a big fan of the '60s 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.
10) 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. We're doing a North American and U.K. tour through November. Lots of work and travel, but it's a long way to the top if you want to rock and roll!