Pretty Reckless and Taylor Momsen Talk Leprechauns, Hygiene and (Gasp!) Wearing Pants

Alyssa Vingan
Many people who know 17-year-old Taylor Momsen predominately as rebellious, private-school-educated Jenny Humphrey -- her character on the hit teen soap Gossip Girl -- brush off her side gig as frontwoman of Pretty Reckless as nothing but angsty teenage rebellion. But the girl can sing, and she completely captivated the audience last night at Don Hill's during Pretty Reckless' performance at a party thrown by Express and PAPER. I sat down with Pretty Reckless members Ben Phillips, Mark Damon, Jamie Perkins and Momsen as they had a few smokes and drinks (Taylor's was alcohol free, of course) before they took the stage. Below, we chat about searching for pots of gold in London, three-day-old makeup, and Momsen's big fashion plans for 2011.

Don Hill's is a quintessential New York rock and roll bar. Does New York influence your sound and your look as a band?
Ben: It's one of the last standing quintessential New York rock clubs, yes. There are other rock clubs that used to stand...
Taylor: CBGB!
Ben: Max's Kansas City. But it's amazing that this place is still standing.
Taylor: I don't think we tie ourselves to any one place in particular.
Ben: But New York definitely lends to a special kind of creativity...
Taylor: Yeah, it's such an inspiring city. 
Mark: There's an edge to it.
Ben: Wait, did you just say the word "edgy?"
Taylor: No, he said edge... if he said "edgy" than he'd be Perez Hilton. But New York has such a great vibe.

Do you prefer to play small, intimate shows like this, or do you like the big crowds, like you had playing on Warped Tour?
Taylor: We're all fans of the club shows, they've got such a specific vibe to 'em, you know? The down-and-dirty club is always fucking cool. We played a lot of shows in the daylight on Warped Tour... In the fucking sun. Playing in the blazing sun at twelve noon -- that doesn't really go with rock and roll particularly. It was a blast, but I think we all prefer the smaller shows that have a mood or a vibe. 

So you guys are night owls?
All: Absolutely.
Taylor: (Noticing the graffiti on the walls inside Don Hill's) Oh, there's a dick on the wall. I like that!

Do you guys want to share any of the band's nighttime adventures?
Ben: I have the BEST story: We were in London, and everybody was on something -- I don't know what it was -- but everyone wanted to find the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. So we went in search of a leprechaun. First of all, careful dissing leprechauns because they will jump out of small bushes and things to get you.
Taylor: They attack!
Ben: And so we saw leprechauns on the London street and just ended up having kebabs.

Well, sounds like you got something at the end of that, at least.
Taylor: Chicken, not beef. 

Taylor, is it hard for you keep up your regular beauty regimen while on the road?
Taylor: Well my hair, which is such an influential part of my style at this point, I actually stole from Jamie [the long-haired drummer]. Except mine's not real, which makes me depressed every single day. I actually cut off Jamie's hair and tied it to my own...
Ben: Come on, that's an original fashion statement: No one else is wearing Jamie's hair! 
Taylor: I loved it -- his hair was so much longer, but I cut it off and made it mine.

Do you pack too much when you head out on tour?
Taylor: I pack SO much. it's obscene -- I don't have a lot of "things" at all, I just have tons and tons of shoes and clothes. But I kind of wear the same six outfits over and over.

Is it hard for you to do your hair and makeup the way you like it?
Taylor: No, not at all... I don't brush my hair. My makeup is usually three days old and I just kind of add more. The water on the bus is a little sketchy sometimes so you end up washing your face with a water bottle.

Where do you acquire those amazing shoes you wear on stage?
Taylor: Stripper stores. I'm a big fan of Hustler... Larry Flynt. 

What do you go for when you decide what you're wearing to perform? Comfort? Shock value?
Taylor: I generally go for comfort. I personally think that dresses are a lot more fucking comfortable than pants and it sucks to be a dude, because you guys don't get to wear dresses.

So guys, be honest, is she high maintenance?
Jamie and Mark: No, not at all. 
Taylor: I really don't brush my hair!
Ben: What they really wish they could say is that I'm the high maintenance one and that she's a breeze. But they're keeping their mouths shut which I appreciate. 

Do you guys give her shit about what she wears during shows?
Ben: Do we give shit to the fashion icon while we're in t-shirts and jeans?
Taylor: Usually, I go: "Is this too see-through, guys?"
Ben: And I say "yes," and she tells me to fuck off.
Mark: She says "fuck off" and then puts something more see-through on.

What should fans of the band be on the lookout for in the coming months? 
Ben: Taylor wearing suits. 
Taylor: I'm switching to pants in 2011. They're all going to wear garters and dresses... it's going to be really good. And I am going to wear black jeans and t-shirts. 
Ben: That's where you're wrong... We already wear garters and dresses, we just wear pants over them. 
Jamie: Afterwards the party gets started! 
Ben: Sometimes we put on the stripper shoes.
Taylor: Jamie actually does wear the stripper shoes, but he drums barefoot.

Have you ever taken a spill on stage in those?
Ben: Don't answer that! And knock on serious amounts of wood right now.

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