Young and the Reckless
You might recognize her as Jenny Humphrey from the CW’s hit series Gossip Girl or Cindy Lou Who from the 2000 reboot of The Grinch, but in 2009, at the tender age of 16, Taylor Momsen permanently left the acting world behind to pursue her longtime love of music by forming the hard rock grunge band The Pretty Reckless. Singer and frontwoman Taylor, now 23, is a woman of conviction when it comes to her passion and art. The band has garnered a significant amount of commercial success with their first two albums Light Me Up and Going to Hell reaching Top 10 status on the U.S. Alternative Rock charts, not to mention breaking records for the most number #1 songs by a female-fronted group on the Mainstream Rock chart. Now that the band’s newly released album Who You Selling For has reached #4 on Billboard’s Top Rock albums, it’s safe to say that The Pretty Reckless is here to stay. Momsen took a timeout from her busy touring schedule to speak with DIME about the new album, musical influences and everything in between.
JENN DEVEREAUX: Listening to your latest album Who You Selling For, we hear an incredibly diverse range of musical styles and influences from track to track. Musicians and bands that came to mind while listening to the album were Stevie Ray Vaughan, Led Zeppelin, Tool and Alice in Chains. Were there any particular bands you were listening to during the writing process?
TAYLOR MOMSEN: I’m always listening to the same things: Beatles, [Pink] Floyd, The Who, Soundgarden, etc. I’m sure it’s all reflected in the songs I write — I hope it is. The biggest compliment I could get is, “That sounds like the Beatles.”
JD: What was your biggest challenge making this record?
TM: Writing is always the biggest challenge and the biggest payoff. Creating something from nothing is an amazing feeling. If I can make something I’m happy with, there’s no better feeling.
JD: Were there any songs that didn’t make the album, and, if so, what happens to those songs?
TM: We actually had enough material for two records. We decided to make one now and save the others for later. We went with the songs that worked at the moment and kept others that needed more work for the next record. We’re already excited for the next album. We feel like the next few years is a work in progress. Our writing has really been on a roll. That’s going to continue to be the main focus every spare minute we get.
JD: Do you have any memorable music experiences that have shaped who you are as a person?
TM: Life is a musical experience. Starting with my family, my father is a huge rock and roll aficionado. That’s really the start of my musical life. My family’s house is like a museum to rock and roll.
JD: What’s one thing you would change about the music industry?
TM: The relationship between art and commerce. It’s very narrow. Lots of talented musicians are forced to do things artistically that they don’t want to just to make a living. Art can make money. The business just has to trust that and put the time and effort into making that happen. Getting rich should not be the goal. Fame should not be the goal. Communication through art should be the goal.
JD: If you had a hypothetical soapbox to get one message out into the universe at this very moment, what would be?
TM: Peace and love. We must live in harmony with each other and nature.