Monday, May 21, 2012

Taylor Momsen's Interview for "SLF Onstage" Magazine!

You can download the Issue from here: SFL Onstage (The pretty Reckless Interview is at page 16)
Interview by Matthew Pashalian

It was two summers ago that I first encounteredthe sound of The Pretty Reckless at the 2010 edition of the Van’s Warped Tour in West Palm Beach. My editor and I had just arrived to a stage where we caught about half of the bands set, and were mutually impressed by tunes that would make their appearance on the debut disc, Light Me Up. Now two years later, I have to say that said disc has to be one of my favorite debut albums released in recent memory, and now have the privilege to sit down with the group’s front woman herself. At the end of their headlining tour, the band is about to head out with one of South Florida’s favorite dark sons, Marilyn Manson, on what is sure to be one of their most interesting tours to say the least. In light of this, and their headlining date at Ft. Lauderdale’s Culture Room, we had to discuss track her down to talk about the band’s beginnings, touring and the band’s latest EP, Hit Me Like A Man. The Pretty Reckless is one show you don’t want to miss!

What’s the biggest misconception that you think people have about you and the band in the beginning?
There’s been a lot, but the biggest one that people have had about me is that I got fired from “Gossip Girl,” and from Madonna’s ]clothing] line and all of these things – I never got fired from anything. With “Gossip Girl,” I left so that I could pursue music, be able to tour and make records. That’s all that I wanted to do, and they wouldn’t give me the time off to allow me to do that; so that’s probably the biggest misconception that people have of me. As for the band, probably that people just don’t think of it as a band; they think of it as just me. It’s not like I went and interviewed people and hired them to be my band. It actually came together very organically and I’m so lucky that that happened.

Originally, when you first started the Pretty Reckless in 2009, you had a different band line-up and
songs. How did you initially come across the people who would become your band (Ben Phillips, Mark Damon, and Jamie Perkins)?
In the very beginning, I had never toured before or even played live in front of an audience. So I was signed with different songs, and they wanted me to go on tour to get some experience. This was during the time when we were still in the process of writing songs that would become the record with Ben [Phillips], who is in the band. Mark and Jamie were in other bands, and we just couldn’t get it together in time for a tour. So I went out on tour with friends of mine and we played songs that were from my original demos that were never meant to be released orlooked at.
When I got off of that tour, that was when we got together to write and record what would become the record. We met through our producer though, Kato Khandwala, who was good friends with Ben. It all just came together very quickly because we all had the same vision and direction, so we hit it off immediately.
It’s so hard in an industry that’s so large to find people who have the same taste in music and vision. Like Soundgarden’s Badmotorfinger; some people would just look at me confused and be like, “What?” And that let me know that that just would not work. When I started working with Kato though, we just hit it off and that’s when everything started coming together.
It‘s funny you mention that. I’ve seen people comment on interviews that you have done where youmention how hard it is to find musicians to work with who have similar influences such as the classic rock groups you cite. You would think it would be easy, but they don’t realize that there is a difference between liking the same groups and musically being on the same page as well.
Exactly, I mean I was a singer-songwriter working with producers and looking for musicians who were the right people and direction. It took me my whole life [laughter].I first went into a recording studio when I was a little kid, like five, so it took me my whole life to get here. When I finally met these guys it was a fucking gift!

What makes Ben Philips such a great songwriting partner for you?
Musically, we come from similar backgrounds as far as what we listen to. I’ll pretty much write most of it, but it’s a good partnership to have someone to give that second opinion that has that same vision as you; and I never had that before. When we met, it was cool because he was a guitar player, singer songwriter like me, and it was the first time that I had ever written with someone else. I don’t know why but it just immediately worked. I don’t know how, it just does.

Are there any songs that lyrically mean the most to you on Light Me Up?
All of them really, I tend to just write very honestly and very close to home. I really can’t pick just one because they’re all very personal.

When writing for Light Me Up, was there a particular song or songs that were the real turning point where you knew that you had finally come across the sound you were after?
Probably when we wrote “Make Me Wanna Die.” That was when we realized we had locked into a groove from the writing, the production and everything. That was the turning point for the record and from there it all just kept rolling. That was also one of the first songs that we wrote for the record.

Let’s talk the new EP, Hit Me Like A Man. There has to be an interesting story behind the title, indicative of anything?
We just kind of named things after songs just so you don’t have to come
up with another title [Laughter]. We just thought that that was the strongest title of the three new songs on it. That was the song that had the strongest impact so we went with it.

Aside from the live songs, the title track, “Cold Blooded” and “Under Water” have a cool bluesera Zeppelin influence to them. Was there a conscious decision for their sound?
Zeppelin is a massive influence, and you’re the first person who has saidthat, so that means a lot. Zeppelin is a massive influence on us, especially on “Hit Me Like A Man.” I’ve been listening to Zeppelin, since I was like a real little kid, and, of course, they would be an influence. They’re fucking Led Zeppelin [Laughter]. It’s inescapable.

We’re based here in South Florida and you’re about to go out on tour with a South Florida boy, Marilyn Manson. How did that tour come about?
That’s a good question, and I’m not actually sure in all of the details since
there are so many people behind the scenes. We actually just met last week in Los Angeles at the Golden God Awards. It should be a fun tour.

Speaking of the Golden God Awards, you just guested during the first song of his performance set of the show during “The Dope Show.” Was that planned ahead of time or very last minute?
It was a little of both, last minute but planned. It wasn’t like, “Hey! I’m on the side of the stage and just walk up.” We flew in from playing a show the night before, and by the time we got to Los Angeles, I hadn’t slept in 78 hours. We got there in time for the rehearsal the night before, and then the next day was the Golden Gods; and the show ran extra late, so we didn’t even go on until midnight. After that we flew out to Philadelphia to play a show there, drove to New York that night and got there at like 5:30 in the morning; stayed up all day and played the New York show. By the time we got done playing the show in New York, I was just out of my mind. I sounded like a crazy person just being so tired. It was pretty funny, but you do what you gotta do right. That’s rock n’ roll.

After the Manson tour, you’re going back into the studio to record the follow-up to Light Me Up. How much of the record has already been wrote?
We’ve got a lot of pieces, but it’s never done until it’s done. I’m always writing, so we always have a lot of material; but it’s never enough as far as I’m concerned so we’re still going.

So would it be safe to say that the three new songs on Hit Me Like A Man are a pretty good indication of where the band is headed?
Yeah, definitely; we work on a song by song basis. Like with the first record, we didn’t go in with any type of concept or anything, it’s all very much just about the song itself. That’s just how we write and how we’ll be doing the next record
as well. We wanted to release the EP to just give fans a taste as to where we’re going. I don’t even know what direction it is we’re going in yet, but when I do I’ll let you know when it’s done.

Do you think any of your older leaked demo songs such as “Heart” would be making the new album?
No, definitely not. Those weren’t even supposed to come out in the first place. They were, just as you put it, “leaked.” We’re moving onto bigger and better. You can’t go back, you gotta go forward.

The band’s show at the Culture Room in Ft. Lauderdale will be the band’s first show in support of Light Me Up since the band’s appearance at Warped Tour in 2010. 
I know it stinks. I can’t believe wehaven’t made it back to you guys yet. I can’t believe it’s been so long. I really like Florida, and I’m really excited to get to come down there. You guys have the best weather.

The band puts on a great show, have you thought about putting out a live DVD?
I would love to, but all of that isn’t up to me. I just write the songs and play them. There are all of these other people who handle that and that kind of just puts me stuck in the artist world. If it was up to me, I would love to do a whole live DVD; I would love to do a whole live record. We recorded
a whole show that we did in London, and I would love to put out; but all of that stuff isn’t up to me so we only got to pick two songs.

How do you feel about yourself and the band as performers since your first big tour, the Warped Tour?
The show itself has developed so much. We’ve been touring consistently since Warped Tour, we haven’t really stopped. Playing every night you can only get better; I mean, I hope we’re better than our first tour [Laughter]. It’s definitely kind of turned into a show. Everything is live, there are no tracks so everything raw. If a guitar goes out, we’re fucked; there’s nothing covering up anything, it’s all live. Even though you’re touring the same sets it’s never really the same show, there’s always something different that separates them. It’s exciting and the show continues to develop.

Should fans expect any surprises or new songs being played on this tour?
We will be doing a couple of different covers this tour. We’ve been playing “Aerials” by System of a Down. We recently met them in Australia at the Soundwave Festival, and became pretty good friends with them. John, their drummer, actually came out and played the song onstage with us at the House of Blues in Los Angeles. He was like, “Hey, let’s cover ‘Aerials.’” So since that was at the very beginning of the tour, it just kind of became like the new tour cover. Things just kind of happen, and we just roll with it.

I know the band has been known to cover the White Stripes often. Is this its replacement? 
We’re still playing it, but it just depends on the night.

What advice do you have for local unsigned artists who just want to be seen and heard?
I’m the worst advice giver of all time. I don’t know. There really is no formula for this industry. Everyone’s career develops so differently. If you love it just keep going and work your ass off. If you think you are, you’re not. That’s really the biggest thing; it just takes a lot of work. If you think you’re working hard, tell yourself you’re not working hard enough. It’s a 24-hour-a-day job, and a constant – but the payoff at the end of the day is worth it because I love to play music and I love to play shows. I love to write songs and to be able to do that is great. Good luck! …of course, they would be an influence. They’re fucking
Led Zeppelin.

The Pretty Reckless
Hit Me Like A Man EP
Towards the end of the Pretty Reckless’ final US headlining tour in support of their debut disc, Light Me Up, the band has decided to tease fans one more time with what’s to come on their sophomore effort with an EP of live cuts and new tracks in the form of the interestinglytitled Hit Me Like A Man EP. The two live cuts, both recorded in London, “Since You’re Gone” and “Make Me Wanna Die” are explosive. Vocalist Taylor Momsen welcomes the listener on the first track as if welcoming you to the disc, or in this case, the party. Vocally, Momsen sounds great and the band is on fire on these two songs that does just what a live concert should – leave you wanting more. The new tracks are really what are enticing about the EP though. Still keeping with the band’s sound that fans have come to love from them, these songs also have a feel akin to the bluesy-era of Led Zeppelin in the title track and “Cold Blooded.” The band is tight and the vocals more ferocious with a very loose and live feel to them. If you have a chance to pick this one up, whether in physical form or from a digital retailer, I would highly recommend this one!
- Matthew Pashalian.
Thanks to Taylor Momsen Net!


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