Sunday, February 13, 2011

Taylor interview with Artist Direct

Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless Talks "Light Me Up," Rock T-Shirts, and "The Wizard Of Oz"

Light Me Up, the debut LP from The Pretty Reckless has just hit iTunes, and it's already blazing up the charts. Within a day, the album hit #3 on the overall iTunes chart, and frontwoman Taylor Momsen couldn't be more thrilled. However, being the true artist she is, she's more interested in chatting about her inspirations than anything else.

" The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite movies," exclaims Momsen with a sly smile.

Donning a Rob Zombie shirt transformed into a dress and espousing the awesomeness of Judy Garland, Momsen is the vision of a timeless badass—she's also got the voice to boot. On Light Me Up, Momsen's sultry soulful pipes careen over hyper-charged anthemic rock that's enough to get any arena fist-pumping. Picture Fiona Apple singing over Soundgarden -style riffs and you've got a good idea. The Pretty Reckless is just what rock 'n' roll needed.

Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless sat down with editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about Light Me Up, her favorite rock 'n' roll t-shirts, why The Wizard of Oz rules and so much more.

Do you always come back to the blues?
Of course, I love the blues. You can hear a little bit of that through the record. I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock and vinyl. My dad has a giant vinyl collection with Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Beatles, Pink Floyd and AC/DC. They're all the classics, and he still listens to them. They're my favorites, and they're classics for a reason!

Did you have one vision for Light Me Up as a whole or did it come together song by song in the studio?
We had a general direction. We all had the same vision for the record, but it's a very song-driven record. It's very much about the songs, and the production came after. In that way, it's diverse, but it has a cohesive feel because it came from the same end vision that we wanted to have.

What's the story behind "Factory Girl?"
I love the '60s, and the song is influenced heavily by the '60s drug scene, Andy Warhol and Edie Sedgwick. However, it tells the story of a hooker in the '60s going from New York to L.A. hooking for drugs and money. It goes through this story of what a difficult life this person is living, even though it's kind of a fun take on it.

Is storytelling important to your songwriting?
Absolutely! You have to have something to say.

Would you follow the character of "Factory Girl" into another album?
We're always writing. It's hard to say where we go next because it's so about each song itself and where it starts. It starts different each time. There are some grandiose themes on the record, and they're something you can always write about. It's a very life-driven album. In the grand scheme of things, it's about situations that are bigger and more detailed than the situation I'm explaining. What I actually am writing about is maybe not what you'll take out of it. I think that's good. Take what you want out of it. Take what it means to you.

Does anything go within the landscape of The Pretty Reckless's sound? You can hear it on "Make Me Wanna Die."
Well, everything is played. There are no loops or anything. It's very musical, and every part is there for a reason. The strings going through it are "Eleanor Rigby." It's very influenced by The Beatles in production and some of those aspects as well as other bands.

When did you get into heavy metal?
I got into Rage Against The machine, Audioslave, System of a Down, and Soundgarden, and I've been listening to them for quite some time now. It was probably around the same time that I saw The White Stripes when I was nine or ten. That was a fun show! I haven't actually seen a lot of shows. I've watched a lot of DVDs [Laughs]. I saw Chris Cornell two years ago, and that was cool!

Does music come from a different creative place than acting?
Music is so different. It's expression. It's looking into yourself. It can be very torturous at times. When I'm acting, I'm playing a character and I'm saying someone else's words. I don't really have a say on what happens this week on an episode of Gossip Girl. I read the script, and I do what it says. Music is my passion. Acting is a job I enjoy.

What fosters your visual sensibility in the songs?
I listen to a lot of music. It's hard to describe. It's not really one thing you do. You get lucky. You're in the right place at the right time and have something inspire you. As a writer, you're always keeping your eyes and ears open for anything to trigger something. It's so difficult. You're coming up with something out of nothing. To say where a song comes from is so elaborately difficult. You would've had to have been there to know and literally be in my head. It's hard to describe. The live show is very different from the record. It's a lot rawer than the record. It's live so it has a different feel than the record does. The album was so fine-tuned and meticulously worked over for such a long time. It has a different energy, which is good.

Do you have any favorite band t-shirts?
I just got this Rob Zombie shirt, and it's pretty cool. I love Iron Maiden shirts. Their art is just awesome! I have a cool Audioslave shirt I like a lot. I have a bunch of them, and it's hard to pick a favorite. It's whatever one is clean that day [Laughs]!

You need a logo like Maiden's Eddie for The Pretty Reckless!
[Laughs] Right?! We're trying to actually find an artist for merch!

What are your favorite movies?
The Wizard of Oz was probably my favorite movie. I was obsessed with that as a little girl. I've seen it like 300 times or something ridiculous. I like all the classic movies. When I was a kid, I loved all of the princess Disney movies. Judy Garland's awesome. It's such an amazing story. I love Alice In Wonderland. I love that story and book!

Rick Florino 02.09.11


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