The Pretty Reckless' Taylor Momsen: “This year has taught me to appreciate the small things in life”

In Kerrang!'s customary 2020 interview round-up, The Pretty Reckless vocalist/guitarist Taylor Momsen reflects on an eventful year – and excitedly looks ahead to a big 12 months for her band.

The Pretty Reckless' Taylor Momsen: “This year has taught me to appreciate the small things in life”
Jake Richardson

The Pretty Reckless have been sitting on their upcoming fourth album for what feels like an eternity, and the events of 2020 have proved a frustrating exercise in waiting out whatever bullshit the world has thrown their way. Taylor Momsen and her bandmates have made it out of the other side, though, refreshed, reinvigorated and raring to go ahead of what could be a career-defining year for the band. Here, Taylor catches up with Kerrang! to talk quarantine, album release preparations and reconnecting with her surroundings…

Broadly speaking, Taylor, how has 2020 been for you?
“That’s a loaded question! Similar to how I imagine everyone has found 2020, the past 12 months have felt insane. Let’s be honest: this year has been utterly ridiculous. What happened?! I’ve been hanging in there, though, and doing my part to stay safe. I’m a hypochondriac, so I’ve been very paranoid and afraid, and I basically haven’t left the house apart from a few weeks ago when we went to New York to make some videos. Other than that, I haven’t left the house since March, not even to go to the store. Well before COVID was a thing I’d always wear rubber gloves and a face mask when I was flying, so I was pretty well prepared for it, but it’s still been a tough year. But putting all that madness aside, there have been some incredible moments for The Pretty Reckless. We released the title-track from our upcoming album Death By Rock And Roll and it went to Number One which was crazy. It’s always scary putting out music – even more so in the times we’re living in right now – but to get such a positive reaction was the greatest gift we could possibly have been given. A big thing that’s come out of this year has been the fact that we finally have a release date for our record – February 12, 2021 – because we were wondering for a long time when or even if we could release this album. It’s very weird to have announced the record and put a song out this year, have the track do really well but then be in this situation where we’ve never actually played it live. That whole scenario feels very bizarre.”

Have you taken any positives out of quarantine?
“I feel like some beautiful things have come out of being in quarantine. Had the record come out this year we’d have been in that usual grind of touring – which is amazing, don’t get me wrong – but your mind-set shifts when you’re doing that. So having been in the situation where we can’t tour, it’s been cool to experience the reaction to us putting out music in a different way, and seeing everyone’s reaction to the new material online has been very rewarding. I’ve been doing some acoustic sessions from home, too, as well as some collaborations, and those are things that would never have happened were it not for quarantine. There have been dark days, for sure, but I’ve taken plenty of positives out of all this.”

How much has the pandemic affected your preparations with regards to releasing Death By Rock And Roll?
“A lot. Everything got pushed back because of the uncertainty of the situation, and it felt very scary but also kind of exciting. The lack of a release date was hanging over us for a long time, especially because we’ve been sitting on this album for ages. Like with the song 25 [that was released in November] for example; I was just turning 25 years old when I wrote that, and I’m now 27. That shows how we’ve very much had to play a waiting game, but I knew I didn’t want to release the full album and us not be able to play it live at all. We’re a rock band – we live to play. Fingers crossed, 2021 will see things get a little bit easier.”

You mentioned that you were in New York shooting videos recently. What was it like finally getting to leave home and work on some band stuff?
“In a way it felt terrifying, because I was so scared to leave my house. We took every COVID precaution possible when we were on set: we had two COVID officers, masks, shields and goggles were in use, no-one was allowed to touch food, and there was testing before and after you left the building. Every protocol was followed, but setting that all to one side, it was amazing to be there. I hadn’t seen the guys in months, and to be back together playing and creating again was awesome. I’m a New Yorker, too – I’d missed the city so much – and being back there and feeling the energy of the place was great. It’s been a struggle being back in Maine after being in New York – my adrenaline was really high when I was there, so I’ve had to calm way down! I can’t wait for people to see both what we were working on when we were there, and what we’ve got in store when it comes to the album.”

Have the events of 2020 changed your outlook in any way?
“I feel like this year has really tested the patience of everyone in the band – I know my patience levels have certainly skyrocketed! Other than that, this year has taught me to appreciate the small things in life and not take them for granted. Even though I can’t tour, play songs live and meet fans, I’m really appreciative of the fact that I get to be at home and spend time with my dog – it’s been about finding those little positives. I live in Maine, and society usually moves so fast, but with there being far fewer planes in the sky and cars on the road, the pollution has gone way down and it’s really led the wildlife in the area to bloom in a way I’ve never seen before. It’s been beautiful seeing all the fish, birds, foxes and deer thriving, and getting to experience nature in all its glory.”

Now read these

The best of Kerrang! delivered straight to your inbox three times a week. What are you waiting for?