Rock goddess Taylor Momsen talks about the tracks that shaped her.
It wouldn’t take a psychologist to work out why a Catholic-schooled former child model and actress, who was advertising Shake ‘n Bake by the age of three, might choose to spend her late teens and early 20s rocking the hell out, singing about getting wasted, and stripping naked but for black body paint (in the video to Heaven Knows). But the hard-rock frontwoman Taylor Momsen says her music taste has always been a constant in her itinerant life – and has everything to do with her dad’s vinyl collection.
Her band The Pretty Reckless, whose second album Going To Hell was out in March, play Download on June 15.
Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds. The Beatles were the first music I ever heard, and the reason I started writing songs, and the reason I wanted to be in a band. And they’re still my favourite band of all time. My dad’s a massive fan so when I first came home from the hospital it was probably playing. They’re so melodic, so genius, and they did everything first – any band who tells you that they’re not influenced by The Beatles is lying.
Led Zeppelin, The Who, Pink Floyd, AC/DC, they were embedded in my blood by my dad. Then I got older and got into grunge like Nirvana and Soundgarden and Pearl Jam. But I didn’t see much live music. I moved around so much as a kid – I was in different states all the time and I was always working and auditioning, from when I was two. One time we just happened to catch a show with The White Stripes, when I was eight or nine. I was amazed at how much noise two people could make. That was definitely a defining moment where I went: “Oh yeah, do that! That’s awesome.” The first White Stripes song I learnt to play on guitar was Seven Nation Army.
I’m a massive Soundgarden fan and we’re about to play with them in Quebec, so maybe it’ll be Jesus Christ Pose. Matt Cameron’s one of my favourite drummers of all time. But the track I’ve watched the most people mosh to is our single Follow Me Down. The goal is to leave our show deaf, mute and blind – that’s my line. I have terrible eyesight and can’t really see past the first row but I see a lot of hair, and a lot of feet flying. I have never completely gotten off the stage myself during our shows, I’ve been wrenched half way a lot of times but I always make sure a little part of me’s still hanging in there. I wear really tall heels and I don’t know if I’d ever make it back.
Jackson Browne’s Running On Empty. I like to listen to that at night on the road. I’m not really into escapism, I like to confront things! He talks so directly about what it’s like to be on tour – the crew, the roadying in and out, the cycle. I can definitely relate. I was always traveling for auditions and roles when I was a kid which I guess prepared me for touring. I’ve always had a bit of a gypsy lifestyle.
I’ve got to save the first test vinyl printing of Going to Hell, because it was the coolest moment ever when I got to hold that in my hands. We were on tour so of course I had to wait f*cking months to listen to it. I got home, made a whole thing out of it, poured a glass of wine, put the needle down… and the record player’s broken. I had to run out and buy a new one. On vinyl you can actually just hear what was recorded without alteration. It’s very much an old school record, it tells a story. It’s meant to be listened to back-to-back, all the way through.
Taylor Momsen’s Something for the Weekend playlist:
The Beatles – Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
The White Stripes – Seven Nation Army
Soundgarden – Jesus Christ Pose
Jackson Browne – Running On Empty
The Pretty Reckless – Going To Hell