The Pretty Reckless
When producer Kato Khandwala (Drowning Pool, Cavo) paired Taylor Momsen, the Gossip Girl actress and singer, with guitarist Ben Phillips that was the beginning of The Pretty Reckless.
There are some people who seem destined for a career in showbiz. Momsen, who had been singing and acting since childhood, was one of them. Later, she added modeling to her resume. Still, it was music that held the most appeal.
"Music is where I can be me," Momsen stated. "Acting is easy. But you're playing a character instead of yourself. Music is more personal because you're writing it and you're involved in every step of it." Momsen's music influences included Kurt Cobain and Joan Jett.
Momsen and Phillips developed a songwriting collaboration that was at the core of The Pretty Reckless. That was fortunate since the group stumbled out of the gate. An early departure, backing singer Anna Mountain, left in '08. Then the following year, guitarist John Secolo, bassist Matt Chiarelli and drummer Nick Carbone, were gone. Their replacements were bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins. The quintet became a quartet.
With the new line-up, The Pretty Reckless issued their initial offering, a four-song self-titled EP. Their take on Glam and Hair Metal didn't do much. In fact, Rolling Stone magazine called the set "generic." In subsequent years, the EP's existence was usually glossed over if it was mentioned at all.
Debut full-length album, "Light Me Up," a '10 release in the U.K., turned things around. The album peaked at #6 on the U.K. chart while the single "Make Me Wanna Die," topped the Rock Chart. "Light Me Up" didn't get a U.S. release until early '11.
A year later the "Hit Me Like A Man" EP dropped with three new songs (the title track, "Cold Blooded" and "Under The Water") and live performances of two songs from "Light Me Up" ("Make We Wanna Die" and "Since Your Gone"). In addition, The Pretty Reckless opened for the likes of Marilyn Manson and Evanescence. Momsen stated she was a "big fan" of the latter. By the end of the year The Pretty Reckless achieved headliner status.
The group's "Kill Me" was heard at the end of the final episode of the series Gossip Girl. That seemed fitting.
"Going To Hell" arrived in early '14. The sophomore full-length set improved the group's standing with Rolling Stone who gave it a "Good" rating (3 stars out of 5). Andy why not? It debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200 with 35,000 copies sold in its first week, becoming the band's first top-10 album.
"Who You Selling For" came next. "We had so much we wanted to say, it was like shaking a can of soda on tour, and then when we started writing we cracked the seal," Momsen said of the songs on the '16 album.
The set contained "Take Me Down," which became the group's fourth mainstream single to hit #1 on Billboard's Rock chart ("Heaven Knows," "Messed Up World" and "Follow Me Down," all from "Going To Hell," were the first three). The group now had the most #1 singles by a female-fronted Rock act.
2010 Light Me Up
2014 Going To Hell
2016 Who You Selling For
2010 The Pretty Reckless
2011 Hit Me Like A Man