Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Alex Kazemi interview with Taylor Momsen!

I see Taylor Momsen as an upcoming female musician in rock, you see her as the established young actress on The CW’s “Gossip Girl”.

Rock History seems to be something important in 17 year old Taylor Momsen’s life. She says she’s been listening to vinyl records since she was a child and dressing the way she dresses since her middle school days. Finishing up on the Vans warped tour with her band “The Pretty Reckless” and on her way to New York to promote the line Material Girl by Madonna which she is the face of stopped by to talk about everything from important musical influences, the constant comparison to Courtney Love and the sessions for her bands new record “Light Me Up.”

Alex Kazemi: Hey Taylor! How are you today?

Taylor Momsen: Not bad, you?

Kazemi: I’m good. I heard “Make Me Wanna Die” was #1 on the UK rock charts. Congratulations!

Taylor: Thank you so much!

Kazemi: That’s where bands like Guns N Roses & The GooGoo Dolls have stood.

Taylor: I know we’re really excited about it!

Kazemi: Do you feel that the audience overseas understands and is more appealed to the music your making rather then that typical American top 40 audience?

Taylor: Yeah, when we went to the UK theirs was very much a rock audience. You have the best bands like The Beatles and Oasis. I think it’s trickled down there’s a little less pop bands then America. It was cool to see the response from the crowd overseas, it was awesome!

Kazemi: You’re doing V Fest there am I correct?

Taylor: Yeah, we’re very excited to play both days. I think we’re gonna have a couple club dates too! So were super psyched.

Kazemi: That is exciting .I have to say “The Pretty Reckless” has changed drastically since last year and that debut tour with The Veronicas. Not just the new members but the sound too. How did you meet with Kato and Ben and start working on this record?

Taylor: Well when I toured with the Veronicas, it was kinda my first time on a tour. I’ve never played on a stage before that. So I hired a few of my friends who were in another band to go on tour with me because I didn’t have my band in place yet [laughs]. So I toured with some friends, played some demos I wrote a couple years ago just to kinda get some stage experience and stuff. I was working with Ben at that time, we were working on that record before I was going on tour. We wrote “Zombie”“and stuff at the time and I remember we wrote the chorus for “Make Me Wanna Die” in Skully’s in Ohio and we when we got that done we kinda flushed it out and finished writing the record together and making a real album. So, I didn’t have any final songs, I was touring on old demos to gain experience and Ben was in another band called Famous which is Mark and Jamie and himself.We were all super tight working on the record and it kinda just naturally formed as a group without taking auditions you know what I mean? We became a band.

Kazemi: The sound now is much more dark then those demos. Did you have to start from scratch and scrap more toned down songs like “ADD and Heart”?

Taylor: Well that was stuff was written a long time ago. I’ve been writing songs since I was like five, soI toured on songs I wrote a while ago and it wasn’t the record. It was no intentions to be the record. Those songs were never ueleased, that was a entirely different record. The only songs people have heard of it are “Make Me Wanna Die, “Zombie” and “Miss Nothing” Everything else is new [laughs]

Kazemi: I’m sure you didn’t work with any outside producers outside of Kato?

Taylor: I’ve worked with a bunch of different producers I kinda grew up in recording studios; I recorded a track for The Grinch when I was five years old with James Horner. I’ve been worked with multiple producers. I would write songs and then produce a track and kinda develop my sound. The weird thing in the music industry is theirs not a lot of rock producers. They’re very hard to find. So when I met Kato it was a natural, perfect match, he’s one of my best friends. We have a perfect musical connection, same ethics and everything. So I went through a lot of different people to find the people I’m working with today and who could get the sound I was looking for across.

Kazemi: In the studio are you very musically involved?

Taylor: I’m very meticulous and involved with every step in the process, every sound “make that louder, make that quieter.” It’s nice the guys can tolerate that [laughs] We will be making all our records with Kato it’s a team at this point. Me, Ben, Jamie, Mark and Kato.

Kazemi: I know you had some sessions with Veronica’s producer Toby Gad, what were those like?

Taylor: Ehh.I’ve met him and worked with him a bit. It wasn’t really my thing.

Kazemi: It didn’t seem like it! I understand you turned 17 recently, do any of your awkward youth experiences reflect on any of your lyrics? Would you say your music/lyrics are aimed to teenagers? Maybe like an escape and something to relate to. Is there a certain age group you want your lyrics to be a appealed too?

Taylor: I mean I think the thing about music is it’s so universal. I wouldn’t recommend eight year olds to buy the record, there isn’t an explicit title on it because [laughs] they wouldn’t print the lyrics for Miss Nothing, they won’t print them! So it’s censored! Well being a proper person I wouldn’t recommend young people to listen to it, I wouldn’t recommend a Disney audience to listen to it or something like that. It’s a little bit older but it can cross the board, it’s got general ideas about life and all the bases of it. It’s meant to be interpreted for the listener, as the listener feel and take what you want out of it .. Don’t try to forfeit to my life because you’ll never figure it out. [laughs] You have to take everything metaphorically.

Kazemi: Seems like the album is a forever lasting puzzle piece.. Do you have a specific time of day where you like to write/record. Tell me a bit about your song writing process?

Taylor: I have a very fluctuating schedule, it was a very interesting process recording the record actually.I was working on Gossip Girl in the day and we recorded most of the record at night. I would work pretty much every day, maybe one or two hours a night for about a year [laughs]. It was a little bit chaotic but there isn’t a specific writing process, inspiration can come out of anywhere. If you knew where it would come from, it would be a lot fucking easier to write a god damn record and it wouldn’t take two years, but it’s whatever hits you, you know?

Kazemi: I’ve been really appealed to the song “Factory Girl”.. What is the song about? Warhol?

Taylor: It’s definitely got that feel too it, its loosely based off the sixties drug scene and we wanted to have something like that on the record but a little bit lighter.. When you read the lyrics it covers the gritty parts of New York and LA. I wouldn’t say Warhol specifically but it’s got that feel to it.

Kazemi: I know “Make Me Wanna Die” was about Romeo and Juliet. Do you feel that most Pretty Reckless songs have a story to tell within the lyrics, is that intentional or are they mostly based off true events/ experiences?

Taylor: I mean it’s both. It’s not just about Romeo & Juliet, its loosely based off that idea but I’m just telling a story, lyrics are just stories and of course they have relevance to my life in some way but that’s not for public [laughs]. The closest you’re gonna get to my life is my lyrics. Each song has its own feel too it, so I kinda take the record as something for everyone. If you don’t like the song screaming at you, then listen to the acoustic ballad that might fit you, theirs kinda a range in the record. Following The Beatles ethic, each song is its own, it’s not about rewriting a song you’ve already wrote its about making something entirely new.

Kazemi: Do you have a favorite song that’s on the record?

Taylor: I can’t pick one. We got ten songs on the record, I would say eleven favorites because of Zombie. I love Zombie. I know that’s not going to be on the record at least for the first release or if they’re gonna use it for an exclusive, whatever blah blah. They’re all my children, I can’t pick a favorite. [laughs]

Kazemi: Here comes another favorite! The Pretty Reckless has kinda taken over the “Vans Warped Tour” Do you have a favorite city you’ve been too so far?

Taylor: We had a blast in Canada. Those shows were just great, Toronto and Montreal. The fans were really into it and it was really awesome, those were definitely the highlight! Detroit was pretty cool too, we played really early and a lot of people were into it, it was very much a rock sound. It kinda varies per state when you go to different cities, they don’t care about the roots and stuff but when you go to cities like Detroit where “The White Stripes” are from. [Laughs] That was a funny show actually because Mark who plays bass he lost his amp.. His amp blew out on stage and we had no bass, so we went full out “White Stripes” and we just played the guitar, vocals and drum. It was cool; a lot of the fans were into it.

Kazemi: That is really ironic. So what do you do before the show to pump you up? Do you have any like holding hands with band mates and praying rituals?

Taylor: Hmmmmm. No. We pretty much just go on stage and rock man.

Kazemi: Does front man Cherie Currie from the 70s all girls rock band “The Runaways” have any influence on your stage presence and outfit choices?

Taylor: Not really, I’m kinda being myself. In any decade people like to point out things like that! You know, there are only so many females in Rock N Roll and clothing and styles. It gets repeated, there’s so many outfits you can have. I try to make it unique for me but people will always have their opinion

Kazemi: I bet you get asked this in every interview or you knew this was coming. How do you feel about getting compared to Courtney Love/Hole as a musician? Not fashion wise. Do you like Hole?

Taylor: Hold on one second.

Kazemi: Ok.

Taylor: Sorry someone just came up to me and asked for a lighter, I didn’t wanna do an interview in-front of them [laughs].

Taylor: One sec sorry!

Kazemi: Its fine!

Taylor: [in the background talking to pedestrian: "Imp out Dude"] Sorry, people keep asking me for cigarettes and lighters! [Laughs] The comparison with Courtney I understand it, I think it’s more based on fashion choices. Musically their isn’t really a similarity when you listen to Hole records and The Pretty Reckless records, they’re very very different.We have a very different ethic, our songs and our record and is based on the song itself and produced around that, it’s about the sentiment of the song and the lyrics and the melody and everything that’s going on, it’s more of a Zepelin and Beatles kinda feel more then I would say Hole. I understand the fashion thing completely but I mean there is only so many girls in rock, I get why people attach me to the only other female rocker that they know. So it makes sense to me, it could be a lot of worst. Courtney Love is cool! She wasn’t one of my influences in writing or dressing. Females in rock gravitate towards a different style, there’s only so many clothing choices you know? [laughs]

Kazemi: Well everyone is trying to dress grungy right now and every guy wants to look like Kurt Cobain and every girl wants to look like Courtney Love. It’s just where fashion stands right now.

Taylor: I kinda have always dressed like that though, I grew up wearing that stuff.. Maybe people didn’t always see it because I was in Gossip Girl and I had a stylist who was dressing me to be like my character to fit the show and stuff. I’ve always kinda dressed “grungy!” People are starting to see it now because I fired my stylist because I said to myself “I am who I am and dressing like this doesn’t fit me.” Everyone thinks I’m taking some drastic turn but if you look at old photos of me in Middle School you’ll see I dress very much the same way. Maybe just the public persona that people think of me has changed.

Kazemi: Everything is always changing in the public eye. What’s your dream rock tour to be an opening act for?

Taylor: Oh man, there’s so many. We’d love to tour with Aerosmith. Jane’s Addiction would be pretty cool. Motley Crue would be a cool tour to open up for. The music we make is very much based off classic rock n roll, I don’t know how to explain the music, and I just write it. So any type of band that has an audience like that we would fit very well with. I would love to tour with Sound Garden but who knows. I don’t think we’d fit so well with the newer bands that have come out. [laughs]

Kazemi: Do you have a favorite rock record to listen to while you’re on the plane or during down time?? Like Manson, Nirvana, Beatles, AC/DC…

Taylor: I definitely have a medley, I listen to all bunched into one….I am religious about it, all The Beatles records , Soundgarden, Pink Floyd, Nirvana, AC/DC. All the classic rock basically. I’ve basically had the same playlist since I was four years old. I think the only thing that got added in the past six years, were Sound garden. I learned classic rock from my Daddy, I grew up listening to vinyl records and listening to great music and I expand from there like the 90s grunge bands he didn’t have on vinyl. I’ve stuck with that once you go great you can’t really go back [laughs].

Kazemi: Do you listen to vinyl at home?

Taylor: Absolutely, yeah I got a record player, my dad has got this giant vinyl collection, I mean an entire shelf, and he’s got everything!

Kazemi: Kudos to your dad for showing you the music that’s influenced the band’s sound today….Is there any meaning behind the album cover for “Light Me Up,” was it a tribute to Nirvanas “Nevermind” cover.

Taylor: Eh not a tribute dude, “Light Me Up” seemed like a steady title, it’s the first record.You know starts fire, lights up. The album art is actually a reference to a photo of myself when I was two years old so I got the idea from that. The picture is me on this little baby motorcycle with this leather jacket and Ray bans. I think I was actually three, I had this leather jacket that I wore like every day. I was obsessed with it when I was kid.I kinda got it from that picture, she’s lighting something. [laughs] The original cover she was holding a cigarette, wait I don’t know if I should say that.

Check out a clip of Taylor explaining the gritty meaning behind “Factory Girl” @ the source


Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.