Gino DePinto, AOL
Momsen fronts Pretty Reckless -- an alt-rock band signed to Interscope who released their debut, 'Light Me Up, in 2010. Contrary to the album's title, Momsen shows a darker side throughout the album, showcasing her raspy, powerful set of pipes and skilled songwriting. In her signature peroxide tresses and dramatic, dark eye makeup, she sat down with AOL Music to dish on the details behind her 'Gossip Girl' hiatus, the concert that changed her life and her advice for aspiring young stars.
You have your band the Pretty Reckless, but obviously people also know you from 'Gossip Girl,' too. What would you say is your first love -- music or acting?
Music, without a doubt.
And if you could only do one or the other for the rest of your life?
Music. I don't even have to think about that one.
Watch highlights from Taylor Momsen's office visit.
Would you say that you prefer your bandmates to your 'Gossip Girl' co-stars?
Well, that's such an unfair question. You have to ask, "Do you hang out with everyone you work with?" As for 'Gossip Girl,' we're a cast, we're put together. I'm cool with everybody, but we're not best, best friends outside of work. And you know, a band is like family.
How did you all come together to form the Pretty Reckless?
It's a long story. I was a singer-songwriter for a long time working with different producers and I got hooked up with Kato, who produced the record. And that's when I met Ben [Phillips] (guitar, backup vocals) and we ended up writing the record together. I met Mark [Damon] (bass) and Jamie [Perkins] (drums) through them and over the two-year process of making the record it sort of naturally formed into a band by the end of it ... and here we are.
What is the creative process amongst the group when you're all coming up with a new song?
The creative process is great! There is no real kind of quote unquote process, though. Every song is done so differently. [It] starts from a different place and there is no direct formula, you know?
When did you first get into music?
Well I've been singing since before I can remember and I started writing songs when I was 5 years old. I grew up playing piano, but then stopped and switched to guitar when I was like 8. So, kind of my whole life.
Who were some of your musical inspirations when you were younger?
Well, the Beatles were my favorite band of all time (and still are). I grew up listening to a lot of classic rock on vinyl. I'm a big rock 'n' roll fan. I have massive vinyl collections of Led Zeppelin, the Who, Pink Floyd, AC/DC. You know, the greats.
So, who is on your dream collaborations list?
Well, there's a bunch of people. I would love to write a song with Noel Gallagher. I would do a song with all of Oasis, but I don't know if that's going to happen. So, I'll take Noel Gallagher. I'd love to do something with Lenny Kravitz or DMX. I don't know, I have a bunch of people I would love to work with.
You and DMX -- that would be a cool combination.
DMX is awesome.
Tell us about your first concert -- seeing Britney Spears ...
Well, I was a big Britney fan. I was also a dancer growing up, so to me the production of the show was amazing. I remember that was what I loved about it -- it was a show. It wasn't about the songs exactly. It was about the whole package, the whole performance. And the stage was insane. The amount of things going on! I was like, "how can you do that on a stage?" I couldn't even understand it.
Then when I saw the White Stripes it was a different feel and it was very much about the music. It was so overwhelmingly loud. And just the energy -- that was a very definitive moment for me when I was like, "Oh, I want to do nothing but play in a rock band".
Is the show aspect and the theatricality something that is important to you for your own music?
I mean, I'm all down for pyro[technics] and lights, but you've got to work your way up to that! It's still very much about the music for me. I wouldn't want the show to overtake what we're actually doing on stage.
Gino DePinto, AOL
As far as your schedule goes these days, are you jumping back and forth between filming and your music career?
I'm very focused on music right now and we're touring for the next year. So, it's a busy, busy year for us. We got on 24 planes in the last month, just to give you an idea of what it's like. It's pretty crazy, but awesome.
So, is your 'Gossip Girl' hiatus permanent, then?
Well they're writing me out right now so that I can tour. They're being very supportive of the band and we kind of have an agreement so that I can tour, because I can't do both. I can't be in New York and then in London playing, you know what I mean? So, I have to thank them for that. You won't see me for a while -- and we don't even know if we're picked up for another season yet.
Do you have any big acting aspirations beyond 'Gossip Girl', or are you just thinking solely about music?
I mean, I want to make music. Music is something that I chose. I was put into acting at 3 years old. I like it fine, but it's still very much a job to me. Music is something I couldn't live without. So I want to play in a band, I want to write songs and make records and tour. Whether I will act again or never act again, I don't f---ing know.
What about modeling? You've already been a spokesmodel for a John Galliano fragrance and the face of Madonna's Material Girl line.
Yeah, I've been modeling the longest, since I was two. I've had a lot of great experiences. I mean, working with Madonna was amazing -- it's Madonna. And it was definitely an honor to be chosen by her to be the first face of her first clothing line. I was like, "What?" I didn't believe it when I got the call. I have a really cool photo of Madonna taking my photo. She took some of the pictures for the campaign, and it's great. It's awesome.
Do you want to work in the fashion industry in any other capacity besides modeling?
I would love to have a fashion line one day. I want to have shoes in it, a fully encompassing fashion line. I don't know when I would do that, because I want to have the time to really commit to it, not just come up with the line and then give it to someone else. I really want to be involved in the designing and everything. I don't have the time to do that right now, but sometime in the future I would love to do that.
Gino DePinto, AOL
You've been working in the entertainment industry since you were 2 years old and you're 17 now. Do you ever wish you had a normal childhood?
I don't really think about it. You only know what you know and I like where I am now. I'm very happy with where I am right now, so I wouldn't change anything. But at the same time, I don't know what I missed, you know what I mean? It's been a different kind of life so far.
When you look at other child stars -- the ones who have fallen off the wagon so to speak -- do you ever fear that might happen to you?
No! I care about what I do. That never even crossed my mind. I love what I do. I enjoy my job, so that's the focus. I can't imagine getting sidetracked from that. Writing and playing is my favorite thing in the world and I can't imagine anything distracting me from that.
You've been in the entertainment business for so long. You're still so young, but what's the biggest lesson you've learned so far about how to stay sane in this industry?
Don't do it unless there's something in it that you love. There is a lot of work and a lot of rejection, it's a tough industry. You really have to have a thick skin and I've built up thick skin. If you don't have that passion and if you can't say that it's something you cant live without, all the other negative aspects of it can become overwhelming.
Do you pay attention at this point to anything that is written about you in the tabloids?
I don't even have a computer. Really, I don't. So, I don't pay attention at all.
Watch the Pretty Reckless' 'Miss Nothing' video.