Alter The Press! Interview
In case you haven’t heard, Taylor Momsen is a force to be reckoned with. Gearing up to release her second full-length Going To Hell with rock metal group The Pretty Reckless, Momsen is throwing a dark, sinful masterpiece in the face of the world. For starters, the band released their “Heaven Knows” music video, which is sure to raise a few conservative eyebrows. But as for the fans, they’re bowing down to Momsen and the group’s clean, weighted rock, striking visuals and propensity for ruthless truth.While Momsen continues to run down that Gossip Girl past, she’s moving like a badass hurricane on a world tour likely to leave a few scars from those who dare to enter the pit. The rocker spoke with Alter The Press about her relentless sound and the making of the new album, a process that endured some major turbulence. But while they tried, even a hellish tragedy, even an actual act of God couldn’t stop the Pretty Reckless from unleashing Going to Hell on the world.Alter The Press: Thanks so much for doing this. Just for the record, can you say your name?Taylor Momsen: Am I under oath? ::laughs:: I’m Taylor Momsen from The Pretty Reckless. What’s up?ATP: Your new album Going To Hell is coming out in March. Tell me about what it was like to go through the writing and production for that?Taylor: It took a long time. A lot longer than expected. We wrote the record the new last got off the road after touring to decompress. It took a few months to write, then we went into Water Music studios in Hoboken [New Jersey]. Great studio. We had our own room in there, and it was a perfect vibe, everything was flowing.And then Hurricane Sandy came in and wiped out the studio, took all the gear and everything with it. So we moved to another studio, which took time to find and rebuild our arsenal. We wrote the song “Going To Hell” during that break before we found the new studio. We went in to record that, and went in to finish the album, and then our producer’s wife passed unexpectedly. She was family to all of us, so none of us are over that yet.Then we recorded “Fucked Up World” and ended back at Water Music studios to finish recording. It came full circle but it took a lot of effort and a lot of tragedy to get this record finished. And I think you can hear that. It’s kind of all right there in the record. It’s definitely got heart in it. That was the process of writing and recording it and now we’re releasing it and hopefully people hear it!ATP: I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your producer’s wife. Most of the album was written before that happened, but assuming you’re going to continue writing, how will you channel that loss into new songs? How do you cope, especially since you’re on tour right now and you don’t have time to just chill out?Taylor: It happened a few months ago but it still feels like yesterday. But you move forward. You have to keep playing music. We dedicated the album to her and she was as rock-n-roll as it gets. She would have loved that. She would have wanted us to keep going forward and playing and writing, so that’s what we’re doing.ATP: Speaking of rock-n-roll, a lot of your fans are pumped about your clean and classic rock and metal sound. It’s rare, especially for people our age. Do you listen to any other bands you think are doing the same thing? Who are you listening to lately?Taylor: Current, new bands? I’ve been listening to a lot of Soundgarden. I’m still obsessed with their newest record, King Animal. On the road I’m listening to a lot of Oasis. New bands? I like Die Antwoord, they’re pretty awesome. That’s what I’m listening to right now. And Zeppelin and the Beatles, of course.ATP: I’ve been watching your new music video for “Heaven Knows” on repeat. It’s unbelievable. Can you talk about who came up with that idea, and what it was like to film it?Taylor: The concept is the song. There’s so much imagery and subtle metaphor that’s going on throughout the video. Every shot has some metaphor behind it. In order to explain it I’d really have to go shot-for-shot with you but it’s all kind of right there.ATP: I was reading some interviews you’ve done before. To me, you seem a bit reluctant to place meaning where it doesn’t belong with your songs or imagery. Are you making a statement with videos like that?Taylor: I mean, I’m seeing my vision through. I’m making a statement – it absolutely means something to me, but I’m not going to divulge what that is because it’s all right there in the video and the song. But I hope it can mean something to you or ot the listener. What ever it means to them is what the song’s about. I write songs for myself. I’m not trying to write a hit song, I’m trying to write a good song. I feel the need to express myself, so there’s a message to me but it’s not a message to send out into the world.ATP: So you’re not trying to make a social or political statement, but I can’t help but ask, considering the protests going on in, for example, Ukraine and Venezuela. Personally, what does it mean for you to be able to say what you want to say? Not everybody has that right.Taylor: It’s always a fight to make your vision and have it be your vision, because soon as you have someone else get involved in any capacity it’s no longer your vision. There’s always a fight to do that. I think that’s always a struggle, even to you say what you want and get to get it accomplished and be the way you want it to be. But I think if the government said no I would still write songs. They’d still be right there in my notebook. I don’t want to go get arrested but if the government was telling me I couldn’t say something I’d still be writing it down.ATP: So it’s that important to you.Taylor: Yeah, it’s something I have to do. It’s not really a choice.ATP: One of the most striking visuals in your new video is when you take off your robe and you’re naked except for a black, upside down cross across your body. Your visuals and the things you say and do really strike a chord with your fans, but I’m sure some people aren’t exactly happy with some of it. Has anyone ever approached you pissed off about some of the things you’ve done?Taylor: Not really. There have been a couple encounters with people who don’t get it or don’t like it but that’s fine. Everyone’s entitled to their opinion but I really don’t care. I don’t think about it, you know? I just play in a band and write songs and if you like it, great, and if you don’t that’s fine too.ATP: I have a feeling with my next question you’re going to tell me that you don’t really think about it.Taylor: Well I’m really focused on the music and art. Outside of that, it doesn’t phase me.ATP: Well my next question was going to be about how you’re constantly compared to other female rockers, and you’re called a “rocker chick.” Does it ever bother you that your gender is being taken into account in the way you’re perceived by the rest of the world?Taylor: That’s how other people make it. I don’t look at it like that. I don’t look at music, even, in a genre way. I don’t look at gender or age or race. It just comes down to if you can write a good song, then you write a good song and I’ll listen to it. It doesn’t matter when it was made. I don’t care about any of that stuff. It’s just if you have a good song or not. I don’t care what people say about me. They can say whatever they want. I mean, I do! I say whatever I want.ATP: You’re still relatively young but you’ve accomplished so much. You’re putting out your second full-length and you’re touring the world and you’ve done acting and modeling. Is The Pretty Reckless something that you want to do for the foreseeable future? What else do you want to accomplish.Taylor: More records! I want to keep writing better and better songs and have every record be better than the last, and tour and hope it keeps going up. And right now it is. The crowds keep getting bigger. It’s pretty awesome. I think that’s the goal of a musician, is to keep doing it and bettering yourself.ATP: The album doesn’t get released for a couple weeks, but so far has the reception been good?Taylor: Yeah, the reception’s been incredible. We’re top five on Rock Radio right now in America, which has never happened to us before. The reception has been really positive. I’m actually surprised!ATP: Surprised?Taylor: I mean it’s super not a pop record. I’m surprised by how people are really getting it. It’s the biggest compliment as an artist and songwriter when the listener understands you as the songwriter and you get your point across.- Carolyn Vallejo
“My Rock” Magazine (France) – Interview
The Pretty Reckless – Momsen uncensored
4 years after Light me up, Taylor Momsen open to us a wicked road to Hell.
The uncomplexed teen became an adult, at a point that her music is transform,
leaving the provocation to strong songs perfectly mastered.
You had doubt about the first record ? “Going to Hell” will prove you that no,
The Pretty Reckless is not just one night stand !
In 2012, you’ve been touring with Marilyn Manson, what memories do you keep from
this experiment ?
Oh I have so many that i don’t know where to start ! It was fantastic, so much
that every shows from this tour are inscribed in my memories. I had so much fun,
to be singing onstage or after watching Marilyn Manson himself.
We can imagine crazy afters…
Of course, it’s Marilyn Manson, the pope of the crazyness ! I really learn to
know him during the tour. And today he is a close friend. He is such a great guy,
far from what he shows to the world, and we try to keep in touch as much as we
Even if he tried to strangle you during the Revolver Golden Gods awards ?
(laugh) Yes ! It was amazing to sing “The Dope Show” in a duet with him.
And despite what people says, being strangle by Marilyn Manson onstage was
totally insane…and really cool !
A little while after you collaborate with another big name in the rock of today,
I sing on the song “Victory” which is on his solo album “Fix This!!!” and also
on the documentary about Ministry. Paul wrote this song very undue, only
instrumental, and he was looking for someone to sing on it.
He contact my producer,Kato Kwandala, asking him to make me listen to the song.
I immediatly accept, I mean, How could i refuse ? I’m a huge fan of Ministry !
Start all over
Let’s talk about “Going To Hell”, the second album of the Pretty Reckless, tell
us how everything start…
We started the writing process just after our tour with Marilyn Manson,
summer 2012. I did’nt want to take a break, I had to use this energy I had
from the shows. This is at this time that most of the tracks from the album have
been wrote, in Hoboken, New Jersey. Everything was going pretty good…
before the hurricane Sandy came and destroy everything on its way !
The all studio have been destroy, we lost most of our stuffs, and also all the
recordings. We had to start all over again, somewhere else.
How did that made you feel ?
I was devastated. We had no more amp, no more guitars, and no more songs, a true
shock ! There was water everywhere in the studio, but not only as the hurricane
brought a lot of things, like trashes, signboards…it was a total chaos !
But this apocalypse have not been only a disaster, as right after we wrote the
song “Going To Hell”. Like what, sometimes, a light can come from darkness…
and trust me we had a lot of darkness during the recording ! The hurricane Sandy
was only the start point of the fall into Hell, hence the title of the album.
For exemple, a little bit after that, the wife of our producer brutaly died.
She was very close to each of us, she was really a part of the Pretty Reckless
family and her lost affect us a lot. This event inspired the song
“Fucked up World” because at this time we all had a hard time seeing good in
life…We were angry about the all world and, because of all those tragedies
around us, this rage came out from us, screaming like one being throught
our music. This is why this album take longer to be released, and why it is
way darker than the last one.
It is also more energetic…
Totally ! I explain that by the fact that we created the songs in a different
way than the first album. You need to understand that when we wrote
“light me up”, we didn’t gave a lot of shows. But this time, we came out from
2 years of touring. It’s been a crucial step, because we understood that our
music should be wrote in the perspective of the live version.
This scenic chemistry between us has changed all, push us to directly go to our
goal, replacing the arrangements with the energy of a true rock band who plays
together, in the same room. It helps define our sound, this is why Going to Hell
sound like the way that the Pretty Reckless really sounds onstage, which wasn’t
the case of Light me up, who was a little bit to produce.
Light me up had a very prounonced grungy side, but Going to Hell got more variations,
it can go from heavy to gospel.
This wasn’t meant to. the only goal was to don’t have limit. thinking about it
I will even say that the songs made the process, a little bit like they was
talking throught us. No fences, no double-taughts and specially no glory dreams,
this is why there is not an evident single, because no song have been taught
for the industry of music. The only thought we had was to write good songs,
no matter what if they had a low tempo or if they were heavy.
There is actually a lot of heavy parts on the record, like Follow me down and
Going to Hell. Do you mean that you like the Rock’n’roll when it screams and
Exactly ! Isn’t it the exact meaning of Rock’n’roll after all ? I like when a
song is dirty, when we can feel the musicians sweeting on their instruments.
In those moments there is something almost incantational, the music possess you,
this is what I love and what push me to pervceive it ! And this world suck,
so let’s play with loud amps anyway.
This attitude is close to the ones of the rock divas, like Lita Fords and
Joan Jett, What do you think ?
Maybe, but I don’t like to reduce the music to the gender of the people making it
… If I had to look for a link, it’s more than like them, I like to enjoy life
to it’s maximum, because it is so short.
Maybe if it’s not your purpose, but you contribute putting girls on the same level
than boys in the rock world. It was in time ! Talking about that, since you
are a singer, did you notice a change in the way they look at you ?
I don’t know, because, actually, except for the shows I don’t have many occasions
to go out and meet new people, but it’s true that in general, they don’t really
talk to me, I might fright them, even if I swear that I’m a nice girl,
don’t be afraid of me boys ! (laugh)
At the release of Light me up, a lot of were sceptical about your new life as a
singer, but when we listen to this record, and see you onstage, we can only
think that you were born for this…
Thank you very much…It takes a lot of time, of energy and of shows to convaince
people, but I think the way they saw me is finally changing. I think that today
people who are looking for their shoot of rock’n’roll are not dissapointing
when they come see us onstage. On the other hand, the ones who hopes to see
the girl from “Gossip Girl” dancing will regret the money they spent. Music is
not just a hobby, it’s my all life and it will follow me to the end,
that’s why I quit acting, years ago. Shooting is over for me. I know you can
never say never, but today I spend my time in concert hall, and I think that’s
much more challenging. Being onstage is the best job in the world !
it’s a lot of work, like the fact that you fly 20 hours to give one little hour
of performing, but damn that’s fucking good !
a little bit Hippy
If at first the lyrics of the album are a little bit like “Live fast die young”,
but a depth listening let see themes much deeper than the ones in Light me up.
Yes, the writing of Going to Hell is much more mature. Don’t forget that I’m 20
today when at this time I was only 15. But you are right, there is really a
double meaning in this record, and the ones who wants to listen to it to enjoy
life don’t need to understand the lyrics. But it’s a little bad to stop there
because even if life is made to have fun, sometimes you have to look at the
things straight in the eyes and accept all the craps happening everyday but
no one representing the youngest feels like talking about that apparently. Even if
ignoring the truth is not going to make it diseppear anyway, it’s hypocrite when
you think about it. Poverty and violence are destroying lifes everyday and
ruining this world. The human being has to learn to be better, because right
know it is evil.
Those violence problems, you talk about them specially in the song “Why’d you
bring a shotgun to the party”.
That’s it, yeah. I had the idea of that song when I realise that everyday the
news talk about teenagers being shoot, who are litteraly killing each others.
It’s a real savagery for the young ones, I couldn’t keep watching the news
without talking about it.
The prohibiton of guns is a sensitive subjecy in the US, is this song a way to take a
I don’t know…It’s complicated…i watch what’s going on, but I bring no answer,
for the only good reason that I don’t have any. And I don’t want to be moralizing,
I just ask to the young ones to think and talk about it instead of shooting in the
head of the others, even if it’s hard for me to understand how a country can sell
guns to their citizen, legally.Peace and love, life is already short, so it
doesn’t mean anything to kill each others, that’s what I’d like to tell my fans
and the ones who read this.
Behind the black clothes and makeup, finally you are Hippy !
I’m maybe a little bit hippy yeah (laugh) after all John Lennon is one of
my heros ! Let’s say that some hippy quotes are very right, like don’t do to
the others what you don’t want them to do to you.
Let’s talk about the jacket of the album, which is surely going to shock religious
ones, you have paint on your naked body, a wicked version of the holy cross…
It’s a pretty simple but effective picture to describe the record and the fact
that we are all going to hell for our sins. After I don’t want to point with my
finger one specific religion, but more all the religions. I grew up in a
catholic environnement so I know all the references that’s why i like to wick them,
but the other religions are not better.
I think people are too serious about it, I mean, there is no Hell, no heaven, just
the notion of good and evil and its shades. It don’t worth all those wars…
I want to say to all those idiotics to open their eyes, because I don’t think that
under our feet there is a group of demons with cleft tails and horns who are
waiting for our judgements to tear us into pieces, even if this idea is pretty cool
(laugh). Don’t let them bamboozle you, everybody can create their own heaven,
and of course their own hell.