Since The Pretty Reckless formed in 2008, they’ve been making sure the world knows that rock and roll is well and truly kicking ever since.
A rock band to their very core, having carved out their own space in the music industry – playing regular gigs, touring, as well as releasing albums, they landed themselves a dream gig in 2017 opening for Soundgarden. One day that dream became a nightmare, when Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell tragically took his life.
The band retreated, cancelling most of their touring and disappeared from the public eye. Then eleven months later, things worsened when The Pretty Reckless’ muse, friend and longtime producer, Kato had died in a motorcycle crash.
In late 2018, the band members reunited to begin writing music once again. Now the band have in a sense, had the time to process their losses, cathartically channeling every single emotion into their latest album, Death By Rock & Roll.
We had the pleasure of chatting to the band’s front woman, Taylor Momsen about the new album and what rock and roll means to her.
Congrats on the album release. How does it feel to be releasing the album at a time like this?
Thank you. It’s bizarre, I mean I don’t know how else to put it. We’re all living in such unparalleled circumstances right now and it’s very strange. It’s a very strange world we’re living in but I think that in lieu of our normal sense of normalcy or whatever you want to call it, you know, concerts to being able to go to restaurants, I think that people can use music more now than ever.
I think that music really has a healing quality to it, a healing power that certainly saved my life time and time again. So in one way, it actually feels very fitting to put this album out at a time that people can’t leave the house.
And maybe people actually really delve into the album in full and maybe it can provide a bit of solace that is much needed in the world right now.
When you started writing the album did you have an idea of where you wanted it to start and finish?
Not entirely. At the beginning I mean this this album was written kind of differently than a lot of our previous work in the sense that normally when you sit down, (I hate the word sit down to write but) normally when you’re writing, it can be a very kind of torturous process.
You’re searching for inspiration and you don’t force that and you don’t know where it’s gonna come from, when it’s going to come, or if it’s going to come. And so that can be a very daunting thing.
And with this record, we went through a lot of loss, and you know experienced a lot of death and a lot of trauma in the world over the past few years. So with this album, I was kind of faced with inspiration whether I wanted it or not.
I say this album’s written kind of differently in the sense that by the time I actually sat down to write I wasn’t even sitting down to write. As soon as I kind of creeped that door open it kind of poured out of me like, a dam breaking or something… like this album kind of wrote itself.
And so I think that that creates for something that’s really special and unique that you can’t duplicate and you can’t manufacture. It’s just the way it was.
The album feels like such a journey track by track, was that intentional?
I mean the track-listing and stuff obviously I put a lot of thought into that because I did want this album to kind of take you on this full circle journey as you mentioned, which I think it really does.
If you give it the grace to listen to it from front to back it, it starts out very kind of heavy and dark and almost bleak, and about halfway through there’s this kind of musical shift. It starts to starts to turn to say that there is light at the end of this very dark tunnel and there is hope if you want to see it.
So I think at the end of the day, this is album actually is a very hopeful record, and I hope that people will notice that and that it can provide some sort of solace and hope for people who might need that. Especially in these crazy times that we’re living in.
How are you planning to deliver the album in these unprecedented times?
Good question, my joke is what are plans… do we have plans anymore? Right now obviously the record just came out so I’m kind of letting that sit and, you know, hoping that people will take the time to kind of actually digest it in full.
What was your favourite clip to create out of the new videos?
I mean all of them, it’s like asking me to pick a favourite song. I can’t pick one, these are like my children.
One of them is not out yet and I don’t want to disclose that. But that one’s very special. So keep guessing with that one.
But, ’25’ was really fun. I mean I hadn’t worn a gown in how many years at this point so I just got to get all dolled up and glamorous was. That was fun.
‘And So It Went’ has this very strange feel to it that I don’t even know how to describe it. It kind of goes with the song but juxtapositions in a weird kind of artistic way that has this dark undertone to it – or overtone (or however you see it). But they were both a lot of work. It was like three in a week.
It was pretty insane. Like by the time we were done I was like, ‘Was any of that actually good? I don’t know I haven’t slept. I can’t think!’ We were jumping around so much and everyone’s in separate rooms and half of it’s being done on FaceTime. But I’m very proud with how they both turned out and the third one is going to be something really cool too.
I feel like you are carrying on the rock legacy in 2021. I don’t feel like there are too many bands who are kind of keeping rock intact and alive, who are also doing it on their own terms.
Um, thank you, first of all.
I think that the conversation or the question ‘is rock dead?’ has been circulating for years at this point and I get asked that all the time. And to me, my answer is like, ‘hell no it’s not dead’. You can’t kill rock and roll, rock and roll is one of the original art forms. It will never die because it stems from the blues.
It’s the most freeing form of music to me because it’s everything. It’s blues, it’s pop, it’s jazz, it’s funk, it’s hip hop, it’s soul and folk, it’s country.
Like it’s everything kind of put into one, and as a writer that’s a very freeing place to live, to not have to put any limitations on yourself. I simply write to express myself and to not have to put guidelines on myself is a really amazing place to be in.