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Interview: Taylor Momsen Of The Pretty Reckless Is All About The Music

Posted by lonnie On March - 12 - 2012 2 Comments

As much as 90s music fans crave the rebirth of grunge, wariness of how it is resurrected is typically what hampers the evolution of it. Who wants to compete with the Grunge God, Kurt Cobain? Those who have tried to re-root grunge have often failed immediately due to the fact that the grunge ground does not need sowing, rather nurturing. There is no need to clear the roots and replant the seeds. Cobain already provided future artists with the grunge foundation, now it is their job to keep it flourishing by expanding on the 90s sound with the originality of the current decade.

Do you need an example of how the grunge revivification discussed above is done? Then, you should take a listen to the positively imperfect music of The Pretty Reckless. Consisting of vocalist and guitarist, Taylor Momsen, guitarist and backing vocalist, Ben Phillips, bassist, Mark Damon and drummer, Jamie Perkins, The Pretty Reckless made its debut in 2011 with the 11 track album, “Light Me Up”, which dropped via Interscope. Selected as the number one album on Shockya’s Top Ten Albums of 2011, “Light Me Up”” burst onto the music scene with infectious melodies coupled with beautifully fragile vocals. Uncannily similar to the authentic and vulnerable sound of Cobain, Momsen’s voice exudes such emotional depth that it’s difficult to fathom that “Light Me Up” is The Pretty Reckless’ first album.

Following the release of “Light Me Up”, the female-fronted band dropped the EP, “Hit Me Like A Man”, on March 6th, 2012. The five track EP includes live versions of the “Light Me Up” songs, “Make Me Wanna Die” and “Since You’re Gone”, as well as three brand new tracks, “Hit Me Like A Man”, “Under The Water” and “Cold Blooded”.

You probably thought a mention of “Gossip Girl” would have been in the introduction, but there is no need to coincide The Pretty Reckless with Jenny Humphrey. Momsen stands alone as an undeniably talented singer, songwriter and musician. The Pretty Reckless does not need to ride the coattails of the trendy Upper East Side in order to stay afloat in the music scene.

Check out the interview below with Momsen as she discusses how the band formed, her wardrobe, performing at Soundwave Festival 2012 , what’s to come for The Pretty Reckless and more! Head on over to the band’s official site for the full schedule of the “The Medicine Tour”, which kicked off March 9th in Tucson, AZ and travels across the U.S. through April.

How was it transitioning from the acting world to the music world?

Taylor Momsen: For me, it wasn’t much of a transition. I have been writing and recording for a long time. The biggest thing is just finally being able to focus on my music and not having more than one job.

How did The Pretty Reckless form?

I was trying to find the right people to work with and I finally met Kato, who produced the record. Me, Ben and the rest of the band started writing together and it just clicked. It worked. It’s very hard to find the right people. I am very lucky.

What’s the story behind the band name?

It was supposed to be called the Reckless, but we had some trademarking issues so they made us add a word. We thought “Pretty Reckless” was better than “Moderately Reckless”. Maybe one day, I don’t know, we’ll drop the “Pretty”.

Were you concerned about people’s perceptions of you, since coming off of “Gossip Girl”?

I don’t really think about it, honestly. I just love making music. I like what I do. If people like it then that’s awesome and if they don’t then that’s cool too.

Your sound stylistically reminds me of Nirvana due to the authenticity in your music. Would you say that The Pretty Reckless don’t try to achieve perfection, musically?

I mean, yah. I like hearing imperfection in music. That’s what makes it interesting. Having it not be sterile and having it have that human aspect is what makes music to begin with. We definitely have that when recording. You never know what is going to happen. Everything is different every night, even if we are playing the same set. We never play it the same way twice and that makes it exciting for plenty of reasons.

Is Nirvana one of your music influences?

There are so many. Nirvana is amazing, of course. The Beatles is one of the biggest influences. They are the first band that I fell in love with. They are my favorite, but still Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, ACDC…The list goes on and on. I think you feel from everyone and try to figure out how to make that new and original.

Do you think your clothing style expresses your music and vice versa?

I just get dressed in the morning [Laughs]. I don’t really think too much about it. Everyone just talks about it. I feel like music and fashion go hand and hand. They are supposed to reflect you and that’s what I try to do with it.

Agreed! How was playing at Soundwave this year?

Soundwave was awesome! We were so excited to go to Australia. Even in the rain, it was gorgeous. The lineup was insane. System Of A Down is one of my favorites. They were awesome. Manson was playing. We are touring with them afterwards. I didn’t meet Manson, but I got to meet the rest of the band and they are all awesome. Slipknot was playing, Black Label Society, Zach Wylde. So, it was a great tour.

Congrats on the release of your new EP, “Hit Me Like A Man”. Out of the three new tracks, which is your favorite?

I can’t pick favorite songs. They are all my children [Laughs]. They all need an equal amount of attention and are filled with a lot of love. It’s hard. You can’t pick a favorite.

Why did you choose to add “Since You’re Gone” and “Make Me Wanna Die” to the tracklisting of the new EP?

“Make Me Wanna Die” was the single, so we wanted to have it. Now, we have every version of “Make Me Wanna Die” with the acoustic version and a live version. And “Since You’re Gone” is one of our favorites to play live. We open the show with it.

What I appreciated most about your EP is how your sound has evolution. So, have any other music techniques you plan on experimenting with in the future? or a certain direction you want the band to go in?

Everything. It’s about seeing what works and what fits for you. The EP is called “Hit Me Like A Man” if that gives you any sort of direction. But just rock. I’ve raised my bar with songwriting of what good is. I think that that’s the biggest thing to have evolved.

I frequently read how you say music saved your life. Can you elaborate a bit on that? What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?

I have no idea! Something artistic. I don’t know. Maybe writing. It forces you to confront everything and deal with everything.

What are you most looking forward to this year?

I can’t even pick one! I would have said the release of the EP, but that just came out. Now, I am excited for making a new record. I guess. We have a lot coming up!

Lastly, was it always a plan to transition from acting to music?

I have been singing since before I can remember. It has been a bigger part of my life than acting. It is mine. Music is something I have been working at my whole entire life.

taylor momsen Interview: Taylor Momsen Of The Pretty Reckless Is All About The Music

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