Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Don't Ask Taylor Momsen of the Pretty Reckless About Gossip Girl

Posted By on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 3:06 AM

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By Ashley Zimmerman

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 & 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 to the Pageant on October 23.

Ashley Zimmerman: 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 onstage, 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 downside. But playing is the highlight of every gig, unless you suck. 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 & 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 onstage 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. He's a big rock & roll fan and I grew up on the Beatles. 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 No. 1 yesterday, so we have two Nos. 1 on the rock charts right now. Currently "Heaven Knows" is No. 1 on mainstream rock, and "Fucked Up World" is No. 1 on active rock. We have two Nos. 1 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 Nos. 1, 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.

Continue to page two.

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