Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Arena Interviews Taylor Momsen!

Taylor Momsen rose to pop culture prominence as an actress, gracing our small screens as Jenny Humphrey on ‘Gossip Girl.’ But she pretty much ditched acting, selling her soul for rock ‘n’ roll and we can’t say we blame her.

Momsen, who fronts her ’80s-influenced, tough-as-leather band The Pretty Reckless, is a capable and competent rocker and an able frontwoman. With her long  and loose tangle of blonde hair, sooty, black-rimmed eyes and piercing stare, she’s drop-dead gorgeous. You can’t take your eyes off her.

But she doesn’t just look the part; she lives it.

While it might be easy to dismiss her desire to rock as a gimmick, it isn’t. Momsen and her band have infused the songs on their second album, Going To Hell, with hooks and heart, and one helluva a headbanging energy. It’s not heavy metal, but it is hard rock. She’s part Joan Jett with her intensity and her rasp, but she tempers it with her glam. She’s also much more than a pretty face; Momsen is whip smart and clearly passionate about her art.

The anthemic “Heaven Knows” is the album’s crown jewel and it cribs from Alice Cooper and Marilyn Manson, but with less of a shock element. If this is what hell looks and sounds like, then we’ll buy ourselves a one-way ticket on the Hell Express. It’s probably more fun way down below. Plus, all of our friends will be there.

Arena spoke to Momsen, 20, on a frigid February evening to get the scoop on her heat-seeking missile of a sophomore album. The album doesn’t have a concept, but it does have a connective tissue.

"To be honest, if you listen to it as a whole, there are common themes that run throughout and those will become apparent if you delve into it," Momsen said. Her suggestion to delve into it didn’t sound like a request or suggestion; it was more of an order, one the listener would be best served to follow.

Elaborating on those recurrent themes, Momsen said, “We toured almost the entire world and seeing the world with my own two eyes changed my perspective and perception, and it was quite an awakening. I’m going, ‘Jesus, we’re all f——-.’ That is a common theme. We’re not doing something right. No one is saying anything about it. So I did.”

Momsen has a point. We’re all pretty screwed, especially if no one bothers to be the change they want to see in the world. She’s using her music to try and shake up the populace. In an almost humanistic way, she furthered, “We all live together. We have to figure out a way to make this work, as people, as human beings, and with nature.”

There was no one specific instance that rang the bell for her about why we’re screwed as a society. But she was struck by the haves and the have nots, the plebeians and the patricians.

"There is always the one thing you see," she said. "There’s the elite and the rest of us. The balance and the power structure is off. There is no equality anywhere and that should be all we fight for. Everyone wants to be rich. It’s not about that. We all deserve basic human rights and we should be equal. Money creates inequality."

While the album is erected upon stadium-sized hooks and robust riffery, making it sound like a good time, it is not a party record for The Pretty Reckless. “It is a serious record. Sure, people like to have fun and forget their lives for a minute,” she declared. “That’s fine. The record I was trying to make … is something meaningful. You hear it and discover something new and think. Think for yourself and not how you were taught. And feel something. It’s all right there, if you listen.”

The album Momsen and The Pretty Reckless were trying to make was dealt quite a blow, since the recording studio was right in the path of Hurricane Sandy, which ravaged the metro NYC area in October 2012. Equipment was destroyed. Songs were lost. The process was inevitably stunted. But it didn’t cripple the band or the album.

"It felt like the worst thing it the world when it happened," Momsen recalled. "Then our producer’s wife died and she was like a mother to the band and we were close to her. The record is dedicated to her. I forgot about the hurricane after that. That was the first tragedy … she was as rock and roll as they come. [Her death] made the hurricane seem pretty mild."

Momsen and The Pretty Reckless got through that rough and rocky patch, and emerged with one of the most memorable rock albums of 2014. Not only is it enjoyable, but it encourages music heads to form their own opinions on the world.

"Put it on, turn it up, think for yourself," Momsen offered. "If you like it, cool. If not, cool. Think for yourself. Do your research. But think for yourself. Learn and think for yourself. Learn. Educate and think for yourself."

And though Miss Momsen is no longer on TV, she still watches it. Like much of the country, she is ensconced in HBO’s True Detective.  ”It is amazing. It’s great. It is one of the best shows. It is incredible,” she said, encouraging fans to watch it.

We concur.
source: Arena


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