The Pretty Reckless’ Taylor Momsen Talks ‘Going to Hell’ Success, Acoustic Recording + More
It's been a big year for The Pretty Reckless, thanks largely to their 'Going to Hell' album. The disc features rocking hits like 'Heaven Knows' and 'Messed Up World,' and now the band is preparing to let people see how the some of the songs came together with an acoustic offering. Frontwoman Taylor Momsen recently spoke to 'Loudwire Nights' host Full Metal Jackie about the decision to strip back the songs and she also spoke about the disc's success and what's coming next for the band. Check out the chat below.
Taylor, a lot of loud heavy music is originally written as just voice and acoustic guitar. As a songwriter, what did that simplicity allow you to do with the songs on 'Going to Hell'?
It allows you to make a really good song that's simple first and expand upon it when you bring in the band. It's my philosophy that if you can't play the song all the way through on acoustic guitar and have it be entertaining and good then scrap the song and move on. It starts on acoustic then you bring in the band and see how it really develops into what it's going to be on the record.
It's pretty vulnerable for an artist to record an acoustic album. What do you like about taking that kind of risk?
I don't know if I'd call it a risk. Especially with 'Going to Hell,' it started with such an idea that I really wanted to capture that and show the audience how it started and what it was like before it turned into this record that it turned into and really give them an inside look as to how the songs originally started. We're making it very simple, just giving the listener an inside look as to how the song started when I was sitting on my couch. It's something that you don't hear very often. It's something you don't get from an artist very often, how the writer actually wrote the song as opposed to hearing the produced, done version. I wanted to give listeners that chance, especially since I'm not one to talk about what the songs are about or anything. I figured I'd give them an inside look as to how they started.
There is so much technology to make music. What gets a 21-year-old musician excited about more organic ways of playing and recording music?
Just playing the songs, that's what's fun. That's why you want to be a musician. Computers playing the song isn't fun. So actually sitting down and playing a song is what drives musicianship. It's what drives me and what I love. That's the end goal. It's what makes touring fun. It's what makes songwriting fun, it's what makes this the best job on the planet, is actually getting to play. Hitting the spacebar isn't fun, but hitting an E chord, totally fun.
It seems like the original, organic way of playing music. Just a voice and acoustic guitar, it's considered an older form of creating music.
Which is crazy to me, because that's what's sexy. That's where the soul is. That's the human element in music, when you put it through a computer you lose it. It's the youth element too. It's the excitement, the freedom to f--k up and be fine. It's the human element and without that you're doing something. You're actually performing and doing something as opposed to having a computer just do it for you. [laughs] It's like watching porn and f--king. I'd rather f--k.
'Going to Hell' has been well received but there was a point when you didn't even know if the album would be released. How did that uncertainty affect the way you wrote the songs?
It didn't, really. I write songs for me, so I always say I'd rather have a record that no one is ever going to hear but I can play to myself and I'm satisfied with than make something that gets heard by millions of people and I hate. It really didn't. It just made for a bigger surprise when it did have the success that it did. 'Heaven Knows' just became the No. 1 mainstream rock song of the year. We certainly weren't expecting that, so it led for surprises when it came out as to how well it did but as far as the songwriting, I do it for myself. I'm glad they liked it. It gave me more time. We didn't know if it would come out, we were switching labels so it gave me more time to sit with the songs but it didn't really affect the way I approach music at all.
Writing songs for the next album, you're musically writing the next chapter in the story of your life. What's the biggest way you've matured personally and musically since you were a teenager?
I hope I got better! [laughs] I think the biggest thing is you get to look back. The older you get, the more experience you have. The more time you sit with yourself inside your own head you get to look back on all the things you've done and reflect and actually understand them for what they were as opposed to being in the moment and living them and not really know what you're doing. When you take time to reflect and look back on it, you have a new perspective on things. I think that definitely comes out in the writing in the songs and the way I've grown as an artist and just as a person.
Thanks to The Pretty Reckless' Taylor Momsen for the interview. The 'Going to Hell' album is available at Amazon and iTunes. You can look for the band back on tour in February with Nickelback. See their dates here. Tune in to Loudwire Nights With Full Metal Jackie and Tony LaBrie’ Monday through Friday 7PM through midnight online or on the radio. To see which stations and websites air ‘Loudwire Nights,’ click here.
Watch The Pretty Reckless Rock 'Going to Hell' Acoustically for Loudwire