Despite feeling physically and emotionally spent after returning from their two-year odyssey, Momsen and Phillips jumped right into writing the songs for their third album, the scorching yet soulful Who You Selling For, which will be released by Razor & Tie in October.
"We had so much we wanted to say, it was like shaking a can of soda on tour, then when we started writing we cracked the seal," says Momsen. You look at the world through a bus or airplane window. It's the one thing that is grounding and a true companion through the forest.
The Pretty Reckless played some of their older songs towards the middle of their show, such as “My Medicine” and “Zombie.” Fans sang every word along as Momsen writhed on stage to the ferocious guitar riffs.
The energy throughout the show was very intense, and everyone was there to rock out.
"It's the most natural recording possible," says Phillips. If Taylor walked in and sang the song and it didn't work, she'd walk right out." When more than just guitar, bass, and drums were needed, additional musicians were invited in, including guitarist Warren Haynes (Allman Brothers), guitarist Tommy Byrnes (Billy Joel), and keyboardist Andy Burton (Ian Hunter), as well as backing vocalists Janice Pendarvis (David Bowie), Jenny Douglas-Foote (P! "It was so great having that many musicians in a room playing together and just hitting the record button," Momsen says.
"It's very gratifying to feel the players and singers represented as they are.
She is one of rock's most compelling contemporary frontpersons, capable of being both brash and confrontational and sultry and seductive, daring listeners to ignore her at their own peril with a fiery swagger that has only grown more fascinating as Momsen gets older.
(She was 15 when The Pretty Reckless wrote and recorded their rock-grunge-blues debut album Light Me Up, which was released in 2010.)Momsen's voice sounds all the more intimate thanks to the unvarnished way that she and Phillips, along with their long-time producer Kato Khandwala, recorded the songs.
The most aggressive song on the album is "Oh My God," which Momsen describes as "self-confession right out of a journal.There’s nothing like going to a rock show where the audience and the performers sync in energy and feed off each other.The night was just that with the band feeling the music each in their own way.“Follow Me Down,” the first track off their latest album was up first.Taylor Momsen’s growl at the start energized with the howling guitar played by Ben Phillips."It questions the meaning of my actions whatever they are.It also defines the record in a grander way by asking the listener to look into the meaning of each song past the obvious."Sonically, Who You Selling For alternates between blistering hard rock ("Oh My God," "Prisoner," "Wild City," "Living In The Storm") and gentler, more downtempo moments ("The Walls Are Closing In," "Take Me Down," "Back To The River," "Who You Selling For," acoustic ballad "Bedroom Window," and closing track "The Devil's Back"), giving Momsen a platform to showcase the power and versatility of her voice.From there, Who You Selling For delves deep into the psyche of Momsen and Phillips - two artists who believe very much in the fiery redemptive power of rock and roll.The album's first single, "Take Me Down," is a story of desperation, with Momsen delivering such lyrics as "I spend all night and day / How much harder can I play? " "It's about wanting something so much you'd sell your soul for it," Momsen says, adding that she and Phillips were inspired by blues artist Robert Johnson's song "Crossroads," which some have interpreted as Johnson singing about selling his soul to the Devil in exchange for his musical ability.They have supported us through the good times and the bad. They are the inspiration when things look too bleak to keep going.I know it's been said a million times, but it's true, I wouldn't be here today without them.