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Interview: The Pretty Reckless set to storm the stage at Track 29

By JOSHUA PICKARD - Published on May 4, 2017

New York hard rock band The Pretty Reckless are set to storm the stage of Track 29 on Sunday, bringing their distinct brew of viciously melodic rock rhythms to Chattanooga.

Accompanied by California rock outfit Them Evils, the evening will be an ode to the transformative power of pure rock 'n' roll, the kind of associative force that modern music rarely approaches—much less can harness with any veracity.

Built around the fierce dynamics of singer Taylor Momsen, guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins, the band churns and stomps their way through a sound that's equal parts crushing hard rock and deeply contagious rock-centric blues. On the back of their most recent release, "Who You Selling For," which came out in October of last year, the band has been touring and spreading their blistering rock philosophy in the ensuing months.

Over the last eight years, the band has accrued four number one singles and spent a good deal of time raising through various rock charts. Throughout their tenure, they've touched on aspects of Southern rock, classic rock, blues and alternative rock without losing or diluting the ferocious creativity which has marked all their past work. Anchored by Momsen's combustible vocals and the band's need to expose the thudding complexion of modern hard rock, the music of The Pretty Reckless stands as a testament to the relevance and earthquake-inducing presence that can be discovered through a combination of musical dexterity and ambition.

But there's more than just volume and guitar riffs to The Pretty Reckless—their songs address a broad range of themes and experiences, with the give and take between Momsen and the band providing the necessary contrast within these vicarious narratives. She has certainly been a lightning rod for certain controversial subjects over the years, but her candid honesty simply reveals a lack of pretense and artifice in regards to how she views the world and its staid social mores. It's gratifying to hear an artist who so willfully bucks the convention of hiding behind a personality and offers her opinions and not those of some media middle-man.

Recently, spoke with Momsen about the band's latest record, touring habits and the work of adapting their songs in a live setting. Read our conversation below.

In the time since you founded the band back in 2009, have you seen a specific trajectory in regards to your own musical direction—whether lyrical or musical—or does it depend on day to day inspirations?

Ben and I started the band and write all the songs together. The inspiration hasn't changed; it comes from anywhere and everywhere. There is no method to the madness, just opening your mind to creativity.

During the recording of your latest album, "Who You Selling For," were there any particular records you listened to during those sessions, or do you tend to keep away from new music when you're trying to work on your own?

I'm always listening to music. Whenever we start in the studio, we always put on the Beatles anthology series, in particular, the "Strawberry Fields" demos; it's very inspiring.

Is there a certain way you approach the live arrangements of your studio songs? Do you attempt to replicate that studio precision or is the stage someplace where you feel comfortable playing around with your music?

In the studio, you obviously get to multi-track, and we're just a four piece band, so we almost have to rewrite some songs to work live—others just work the way they are; it varies.

Do you ever find that any member of the band falls into certain habits or roles during your time on tour?

Not really. We're a family at this point, so I'm not sure I'd notice if they did. Touring is a lot of work, so it's all about keeping yourself at a proper pace to keep on going. It's hard to explain to people just how crazy this life feels.

The songs on "Who You Selling For" were written by you and Ben Phillips—how did that process evolve? Was it a split give-and-take or did one specific person bring the idea for a song to the other and the work began there?

Ben and I have been writing together for almost 10 years now. There really is no process to it. One of us has an idea that clicks—we hash it out, sometimes alone and sometimes together. I think we mostly come up with our own stuff by ourselves and then combine forces with it.

There's a frank and honest rock 'n' roll swagger to The Pretty Reckless—something that really isn't heard much anymore. How did that fierce musical nature develop within the band?

We all definitely have the same ideals with music. It starts with a song and making sure we spend the time to make honest decisions with the music.

With no conditions as to time, mortality or geography, with whom would you most like to share a stage?

Well, tonight (5/3) is our first show with Soundgarden ... that pretty much makes it all worth it.