Taylor Momsen introduced herself to the public through her roles in films such as “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (Cindy Lou Who) and television shows such as “Gossip Girl” (Jenny Humphrey). However, Momsen decided to trade her acting gig for a career in rock ‘n’ roll. Fronting the band The Pretty Reckless, the young performer has embraced her true passion. The group’s edgy hard rock music is companioned by Momsen’s electrifying stage presence and vocal delivery. When it comes to their live show, The Pretty Reckless shows no mercy with a set filled with a hell-born fury that has made Momsen a standout in the world of rock. Momsen recently gave Lagniappe an inside peek into the twisted world of The Pretty Reckless.
SC: As far as being on tour, what’s day-to-day life like on the road for The Pretty Reckless?
TM: I think it’s probably a little bit different for everyone on the road. In our crew and our band, everybody has a little different day-to-day life. It’s a lot of work with very little sleep. The shows are generally awesome. Unless we’re sucking, the shows are great (laughing). Unless I’m too wiped out or drunk or whatever the f*ck, then it’s a blast. It’s a lot of work. I always get asked a lot what’s the worst part about a tour. My answer is always the beginning of tour, the middle of tour and the end of tour.
The beginning of tour sucks, because you’re preparing to leave. I’m in Orlando right now, and we just landed. We’re playing tomorrow night at the House of Blues, and it’s the kick-off of the tour. We’re gone for three and a half months. You have to pack and get everything together to leave your home for three and a half months. At the middle of the tour, everybody goes through this bitchy, ‘f*ck this, I wanna go home’ phase. At the end of tour, you’re finished, and you’re like, ‘F*ck, I don’t wanna go home.’ Touring is awesome. It’s tiring, but it’s the best job in the world. To complain about it would make me seem like a dick.
SC: You’re touring in support of your latest album “Going to Hell.” Sounds like you guys went through hell making this album. Your studio was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, and you had to re-record a lot of material. How hard was it getting things back to the way they were before the storm?
TM: Musically, we wrote everything on this record on the acoustic guitar. If you can play a song on an acoustic guitar with vocal all the way through and it’s a good song, then it’s a keeper. If you need the production to make it entertaining, you scrap that song. We kept that in mind a lot with this record. This time around, we knew that we would be touring this record for two years. We’re on our second North American tour on this record, and we’ll probably do another one and go around the world again. We had to be excited to play every night. So, we kept that in mind. We really made this a band record, where it was just us jamming. The first record was a very produced record, because we hadn’t toured as a live band. We had to figure out how to strip that down to a four-piece band and essentially re-write the songs. With this record, we didn’t have to do that as much.
I’m not going to lie. The hurricane was devastating. It destroyed not just the studio, but we lost guitars and gear and losing things that you’ve had your entire life. It took a long time to rebuild, but we did write during the blackout in New York. We wrote the title track ‘Going to Hell’ during the blackout. When we got into the other studio, things started to roll again, and we got our groove back.
Once we got into the groove again, our producer’s wife Lisa passed away unexpectedly and very suddenly. She was very much a family member and a mother to this band and a big supporter. The record is dedicated to her. It really affected all of us.
There’s a lot of pain and suffering put into this record. I think you can hear it, I hope. It’s still too painful to talk about entirely. I wish she was still here.
The song ‘F*cked Up World,’ we wrote after her passing, and it just hit number one on the rock charts. I wish she was here to see that. You have to move forward, but there was a lot of tragedy that happened while we were making this album. I still get choked up talking about.
SC: Speaking of your producer, Kato Khandwala has been a big influence in your life. What’s it like working with him?
TM: I was a singer-songwriter, when I met Kato. I think I was 14. I was working with different producers, and no one really understood my vision. As a young woman, when I said rock ‘n’ roll, they went to pop rock. I couldn’t find anyone to share my vision, except for Kato.
Through Kato, I met Ben (Phillips). We started writing together, and we just hit it off. It just worked. We had a chemistry that worked artistically. Through Ben, I met Mark (Damon) and Jamie (Perkins), who make up the rest of the band. They were in a band together as a three-piece. I basically said, ‘Hey, you’re changing your name, I’m your new lead singer and I’m writing a new album. Here we go. We’re called The Pretty Reckless.’
We (Taylor and Kato) have a musical connection. He’s one of my best friends. We understand each other, and we’ve been working together for so long. He’s essentially the fifth member of the band. He’s been here since the beginning, and he’s an amazing producer and musical compatriot. He’s able to translate my ideas onto tape and understand what I’m saying, even if I’m not talking technically. He understands what the word ‘vibe’ means when I say it, and it means something different every time someone else says it. He’s a band member. It’s hard to explain. He’s family.
SC: When can we expect a new album?
TM: Well, I’ve started writing for it already. I’m very excited to be going back into the studio, but I’m also really excited to start this tour. Touring is awesome, and playing the fans is great. Hearing the crowd singing your songs back at you is amazing. As a writer, you’re always writing.
I already have half the next record already written. I have to go away from the world awhile to create new material. I have a house in New England that I go to and shut all technology off, except TV and record players. I sit inside my own mind until it drives me insane, then I do what I have to do.
Hopefully, we’ll be in the studio in December. Hopefully, it won’t take as long as the last one. We were switching record labels and everything, so it took longer to put ‘Going to Hell’ out, besides all the tragedies that went along with it.
The Pretty Reckless, Adelitas Way, Crash Midnight
Date: Tuesday, Sept. 23, 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., www.soulkitchenmobile.com