Two and a half years ago the Pretty Reckless released an album called "Going To Hell."
But things have actually been pretty heavenly for the Los Angeles rock quartet.
Fronted by Taylor Momsen -- a teen star in CW's "Gossip Girl" and "Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas" -- the group scored a gold album with "Going To Hell," while its follow-up, this year's "Who You Selling For," is setting all sorts of records. Thanks to the single "Take Me Down," the PRetty Reckless is the first band to shoot its first four singles to No. 1 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Songs chart. And it holds the record for the most No. 1 Mainstream Rock tracks by a female-fronted group.
So Momsen, 23, is understandably ebullient as she gets on the phone from Lubbock, Texas, during the early days of the band's North American tour to promote the album...
Having a third album feels like a milestone to Momsen and company. "We've been a band for almost 10 years now," she notes. "I'm 15 on the first record. We certainly have grown as individuals and collectively as a group, I think, immensely. I think that can certainly be seen and is show on this record, and hopefully we'll just continue to grow and keep bettering ourselves on the next one as well."
After touring to support "Going To Hell," the Pretty Reckless found itself with plenty of new material and an appetite to get in the studio and put some fresh songs into its repertoire. "Our goal on this record was to try not to try," Momsen explains. "Everyone was done organically, and in the studio we very much capture that ethic -- not that that's a new ethic for us, but we went further down the path of try not to try and really tried to capture the performance of the player and, for lack of a better word, that magic moment where it all just kind of clicks."
On "Who You Selling For," for the first time, the Pretty Reckless brought in outside players -- including Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule and the Allman Brothers Band, who played guitar on the track "Back To The River." "That was new for us and a lotta, lotta fun," Momsen says, "'cause it really opened up the ability to have us jsut set up in a room and jam, and that kind of dictated how the sound would go. It just let us capture a moment in time and not worry about mistakes. The mistakes can, in my opinion, add that human element."
"Who You Selling For" was inspired by the musical legend of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads in the Mississippi Delta, which Momsen picked up on from a cinematic source. "I really, really love the movie 'Crossroads' with...Ralph Macchio and Steve Vai," she says. "It's one of my favorite movies, and I was obsessed with that and watching it over and over and over while working on this record. That's the actual answer is it came about because of a movie, but the movie's a legend, and the fact that I gave everything up for rock 'n' roll." But, she adds, "I think on a grander scope it's talking about being in love with something so much and being so desperate for it that you're willing to give anything and everything up for it, even if it means your soul."
While Momsen's acting past was a hook for fans initially, she's confident that nowadays she's considered more for her music. "Well, I'd hope so, 'cause anything I've done previous to this band I was literally in junior high," she says. "It feels like a past life to me. I would hope that the majority of the world would know us from the band and know me from the band. But ('Gossip Girl') is still on Neflix, so I'm sure there's some people that watch baby me and I can't control that. But I think that the majority of the perception has definitely changed, and that's a good feeling."
The Pretty Reckless
Thursday, Nov. 10. Doors open at 7 p.m.
Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St.
Tickets are $25.
Call 313-961-6358 or visit saintandrewsdetroit.com.
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