After a five-year absence from recording, The Pretty Reckless are roaring back with their most inspired album to date: Death by Rock and Roll. No small feat considering that at one point 27-year-old lead singer Taylor Momsen thought they might never record again. After the deaths of Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, who the band toured with in 2017, and the band’s longtime producer Kato Khandwala in a 2018 motorcycle crash, Momsen withdrew from music completely, spiraling down into a world of depression.
Somehow over time she found her way back and reclaimed a love for the music that first inspired her. It led her and the band to create their fourth album, the brilliantly blistering Death by Rock and Roll. HUSTLER caught up with the one-time actress pandemic-style, over the phone from her home in Maine, to talk about the band’s rebirth, naked honesty and Taylor’s addiction to hooker boots and stripper heels.
HUSTLER: Sex, drugs and rock and roll. Do you need all three to make it in music?
TAYLOR MOMSEN: [Laughs.] The cliché is there for a reason. I think sex is necessary. Rock and roll is absolutely necessary. The drugs are give-and-take, depending on the person. The drugs tend to go hand in hand with the sex and rock and roll at some point in your career. It can be a good thing, or it can very quickly turn south. So you’ve got to be careful.
Sex and rock and roll are always together. Rock and roll comes from such a pure place. It is the ultimate artistic expression of freedom. Sexuality is the same way. You wear your sexuality on your sleeve. At least I do. If you’re actually writing from an honest perspective, then your sexuality will be part of it. It will be incorporated. As a writer, if you shun any aspect of your life, whether it is good, bad, light, dark, heavy, sexual or taboo, then you do yourself a disservice. If you put a wall up to that, you are lying to your audience. You have to be an open book. And sexuality is a part of everyone’s life. We are all sexual beings in one way or another. As an artist that is something that will come out in the writing and the way that you express yourself.
I’m sure some women would argue with me, but I think embracing and owning your power and sexuality as a woman and owning your female form, both mentally and physically, is empowering.