If you go
What: The Pretty Reckless, in concert.
When: 7 p.m. Oct. 14.
Where: Hawthorne Theatre, 1507 S.E. 39th Ave., Portland.
Cost: $15 to $18 through Cascade Tickets, 800-514-3849 or cascadetickets.com.
Information: 503-233-7100 or hawthornetheatre.com.
If you want to know the meaning behind the songs Taylor Momsen writes for her band, The Pretty Reckless, don't expect her to provide much insight, especially when it comes to the group's next record, "Going To Hell."
"I think you just gotta listen to it," Momsen said in an early October phone interview. "It's kind of like describing a painting that you haven't finished. I tend to say nothing, and I like the listener to go in with an open mind of having no preconceived notions or anything convoluting what they're hearing for the first time."
Even inquiring minds can accept that way of thinking. Fortunately, Momsen wasn't so tight-lipped when it came to the sound of "Going To Hell" or the struggles that came with the making of the album, which is due for release early next year.
"Going to Hell" will be the second full-length album from The Pretty Reckless, fronted by singer/guitarist Momsen. Now 20, she's gained widespread notoriety for her acting role as the rebellious Jenny Humphrey from 2007 to 2010 in the CW series "Gossip Girl," but she has set aside acting to pursue music, which was always her first love.
And from what Momsen said, fans can expect to hear quite a progression in The Pretty Reckless and its music second time out.
"I think this record is definitely meant to be listened to from front to back," Momsen said, noting that the band's sound has gotten heavier. "I think the best scenario would be to listen to it like a (Pink) Floyd record, go in your room with the light turned out (and listen) front to back. These are not three-minute pop songs, so the more you listen to the songs, the more you're going to understand and discover new things in them."
That description doesn't fit "Light Me Up." That sassy and catchy album was filled with concise rockers that had a distinctly punky sound and attitude, not the type of album one would associate with words like layered or complex.
Momsen is clearly excited to have fans hear the album, and The Pretty Reckless took its step forward musically despite having to overcome some setbacks during the project.
The group had settled into its studio space at Water Music in Hoboken, N.J., when Hurricane Sandy took aim at the area. According to Momsen, the fittingly titled studio had always been prone to minor flooding during heavy rains. As such, the band and other musicians who were using the facility moved their gear into a room that sits above sea level and didn't flood -- until Sandy, that was.
"No one had any idea how bad it was actually going to be," Momsen said. "We were all thinking it was a little like overhyped. But it took out everything. It was 8 feet of water and sludge and sewage. Hazmat had to come in, the whole thing. So it was quite a bummer."
The group lost lots of gear, as well as some finished recordings for the second album. The biggest loss, though, was momentum.
"We had a really good vibe going," Momsen said. "I think that was the biggest thing. ... We had our studio. Everything was really rolling in like a great way. When it hit, it really put a damper on everything. We lost so much gear and had to find a new studio, which is not easy, and re-create that vibe and get everyone back in the high spirits and back into the recording process. But we did."
As if that wasn't enough, the band also lost its record deal with major label Interscope Records. Momsen thinks in the long run leaving Interscope may help the band, which also includes Ben Phillips (guitar), Mark Damon (bass) and Jamie Perkins (drums).
"It wasn't like a bad thing," Momsen said of being dropped. "We got to the point where we were getting heavier and we were going way in a direction and Interscope was going in the opposite direction . … We were a rock band on a very pop-oriented label that was focused on something else, which is fine."
Momsen got a new deal with Razor & Tie Records, a label with a diverse roster that includes plenty of rock, heavy metal and metalcore.
"They were the most excited (about signing the band), and you go with who's the most excited about it," Momsen said.
With "Going To Hell" still a few months away from release, Momsen said the group is previewing a few new songs on its fall tour but keeping most of the album under wraps.
"We'll play a lot from 'Light Me Up' and a lot of stuff from 'Hit Me Like A Man,'" (the band's 2012 EP)," Momsen said. "We have lots of songs we can choose from. We kind of mix and match our set. But some new material that hasn't been released yet we're playing live, and obviously the new single, 'Going To Hell,' we play. It's a pretty rocking show. It's pretty fun."