Interview: Taylor Momsen not losing her rock edge

"Going To Hell" (official music video) by The Pretty Reckless.

Taylor Momsen is a leather-wearing, middle finger-waving, hard-partying rock star and not the preppy, Upper East Side, social climber she played on The CW’s “Gossip Girl,” so get used to it.

That’s the message Momsen repeatedly — but politely — tried to stress while speaking over the phone Monday from Winnipeg, Canada, where her band, The Pretty Reckless, was performing. The Pretty Reckless will take the stage Sunday at the House of Blues.

“It’s certainly challenging breaking out of a character people know you as and see you as,” Momsen said. “They see you as a character so long that when they see you on stage, they think you’re acting. I’ve had to overcome that challenge, but it hasn’t been too bad. It’s gone away over the years. People aren’t asking about (my acting career) at shows. I also haven’t acted in four years.”

More like she hasn’t acted regularly in four years. Momsen, who you may remember as Cindy Lou Who in the 2000 film, “The Grinch,” did appear on the “Gossip Girl” series finale in December. She left the show after Season 4 to concentrate on a music career that has seen her band perform at Lollapalooza in 2011 and open for Guns N’ Roses, Marilyn Manson and Evanescence.

In other words, she has managed to go further with her music career at age 20 than most actors-turned-musicians — even if there is the occasional eye-roll over her rock star persona.

“I was always listening to rock and writing rock songs,” Momsen said. “It wasn’t a transition for me. It was a transition for everyone else.”

The Pretty Reckless expects to release “Going to Hell,” the follow-up to its 2010 debut, “Light Me Up,” in early 2014. The goth music video for the first single, “Going to Hell,” released last week, features a priest, a snake and a bunch of bodies writhing around together.

Momsen said the album will be heavier than “Light Me Up” and described it as a more back-to-basics “band album,” with less production. She wrote one of the songs while at the Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago, she said. The single, “Going to Hell,” was written after Hurricane Sandy.

“We lost most of our gear, amps and computers,” Momsen said about Sandy, which flooded the Hoboken, N.J., studio where the band was recording the album. “We had to go back and rebuild. It took longer than expected.

“We had to find a new studio and get everyone back in the mindset. Everyone was pretty beat. We had been really flowing when it happened and the hurricane flowed through the studio and stopped that. But we finished and conquered, it just took a lot longer.”

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lgomez@tribune.com | Twitter @TribLuis
 
The Pretty Reckless
When: 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: House of Blues, 329 N. Dearborn St.
Tickets: General admission $24.35 at houseofblues.com/chicago
 


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