‘They are very much in love, and that is obvious if you only spend a few minutes in their company. Without wishing to sound negative, they are the sort of couple who are so in love that the children are secondary to the parents’ love story. She is very unguarded and genuine, and, in a way, really an innocent, and he just sits there looking at her adoringly and saying not an awful lot.’ - A friend of Helena Bonham Carter & Tim Burton.
By the time Tim saw the window, he knew something was wrong. He’d left it unlatched — that’s how he snuck in and out for patrol— but it was open now, intentionally cracked. He wasn’t sure what that meant, so he came in quietly, holding his staff in front of him. His TV was on. That meant he was safe, right? Assassins didn’t watch the Food Network while they waited for their target to come home. Tim rounded the corner into his living room and sighed. Yeah, apparently some of them did— Jason was standing over his coffee table, folding a stack of laundry. “Oh hey,” he said, dropping another shirt on his pile. “You’re home.” For a few seconds, Tim could only stare. Yes? He was home? His home. Definitely not Jason’s. It was four in the morning. “What are you doing here?” “My dryer broke.” Tim held open his apartment door. “Leave.”
Tim wasn’t sure why his apartment smelled like baking bread, until he walked into his kitchen. The kitchen was a mess. There were ingredients lying across his counters, flour on his floor, pots in the sink, and an idiot in a leather jacket standing in front of his oven. Jason barely looked up from his mixing bowl when the door swung open. “Hey.” “Why?” “I… wanted cornbread?” Jason shrugged. “Sometimes this just happens.” He emptied his bowl into a cast-iron skillet and pulled open the oven. “How did you get in here?” “Fire escape.” “Great,” Tim sighed. He pushed a jug of milk, a carton of eggs, and a can of salt aside so he could sit on the counter. “There’s no way anybody heard that.” Did he even have eggs? He was pretty sure he’d finished his eggs last week. Did Jason bring his own? Would he get to keep the extras? “Yeah, the girl in 3C thinks your floor is haunted. I heard her say so when I was climbing past her blacony.” “If only.” “You are being haunted,” Jason reminded him. “I’m a ghost.” Tim emptied a handful of salt into his hand and threw it across the kitchen. “Then get your ghostly ass out of my kitchen.”
Tim wasn’t totally surprised to find Jason in his dining room (sitting at the table, doing a crossword), but he was curious. “I locked all my windows.” “I came in through the basement.” Jason took his pen out of his mouth and pointed it at Tim. “Nice lair, by the way.” “You broke through the laser grid?” “Yeah.” “Entered a 21 digit code.” “Right.” “And said a randomly generated phrase,” Tim finished, “in an exact imitation of my voice?” “Actually, I phoned a friend.” Jason gestured vaguely behind him, and at that precise moment, Tim noticed a pair of green boots poking over the back of his couch. “Drake,” said the voice behind them. “Oh god.” Tim turned back to Jason. “So you taught Damian how to break into my apartment.” “In my defense, we both know that he can and probably has done it by himself.” “Wednesday,” Damian confirmed. “The manor ran out of bagels.” Tim ducked into the kitchen to check what had been his bagel supply, but was now an empty cabinet. “Out!” he yelled. “Both of you.”
Tim was bleeding, splattering red over his windowsill and his carpet. He could barely walk— the bullet in his knee was making it hard. The bullet in his side wasn’t helping either. He staggered over the window frame and fell, colliding with a wall on his way down. “Shit.” His vision was starting to spin, but he could make out a figure coming down his hallway. Jason? Yeah. Jason was frozen in his doorway, staring at him with wide eyes. “Are you just gonna stand there??” Tim pulled his face away from the floor. “Help?” He didn’t remember much after that.
Tim didn’t like sunrises. They were pretty, sure, but they meant he’d stayed out too late. He climbed through his window, yawning, and turned to collapse on his bed, only to find that there was already someone in it. “Are you serious?” he muttered. It was Jason. Again. “Whatever,” he decided. Tim pulled a spare key from his drawer and tucked it into Jason’s discarded jacket. If he was going to show up at all hours, he might as well use the door. Anyway, Tim was tired of upgrading his security every week. He grabbed a blanket from the bottom of the bed and went to crash on the couch.
The Pretty Reckless’s Taylor Momsen on Why She 'Sold Her Soul to Rock ‘n’ Roll,' Will Never Act Again
NEW ORLEANS, LA – OCTOBER 29: Taylor Momsen of The Pretty Reckless performs during the 2016 Voodoo Music + Arts Experience at City Park on October 29, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)
Most musical artists yearn to be recognized, earn money, and enjoy a self-indulgent lifestyle. But 23-year-old Taylor Momsen had already experienced all of that when she abandoned her acting career and launched her hard rock band, the Pretty Reckless, in 2009. She’d been acting since she was 7, and in 2007 her TV career peaked when she played Jenny Humphrey on the popular series Gossip Girl. Momsen had also worked as successful model for IMG before she gave it all up for rock ‘n’ roll.
At the time, Momsen was considered a bit of a loose cannon. Though she was just 15 when the band started and 16 when their debut album Light Me Up came out, Momsen was rebellious and provocative — flaunting her sexuality onstage, using shock tactics to attract a crowd, and engaging in the kind of behavior that gives parents of teenage girls nightmares.
“I look back at some of the outfits I wore and I go, ‘Wow, I don’t know what I was thinking,’ but I was certainly honest at the time,” Momsen tells Yahoo Music. “I was young, and I think it was good that we got that out of our systems in the beginning.”
Whether the antics and bravado played a role in her success or not, Taylor Momsen is still going strong six years into her recording career with her band’s third full-length release, Who You Selling For. The album debuted at #13 on the Billboard album chart and its first single, “Take Me Down,” hit #1 on the rock chart, making it the band’s fourth consecutive song to top that chart.
Like 2014’s Going to Hell, Who You Selling For is a gritty album full of bluesy guitars and propulsive hard rock rhythms. But while Momsen has strived to be controversial in the past — exposing her bare back and most of her rear end on the front cover of Going to Hell, for instance — these days she chooses a different way to express herself. The new album’s title addresses the slippery slope between commerce and art, and the songs, which explore hard rock, blues, funk, soul, and pop, bristle with the frustration of giving up family, stability, and privacy to follow a dream.
“I’ve sold my soul to rock ‘n’ roll,” she glibly says. “I’ve given everything to music. You have to do that. When you love something so much, you have to fully commit to it, and that means giving everything else up for it. But at the end of the day I get to scream into a microphone every night, and that’s f—ing awesome. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
YAHOO MUSIC: You touch on many different music subgenres on Who You Selling For. And it sounds like you have more than a passing familiarity with each.
TAYLOR MOMSEN: It wasn’t intentional to go all over the place with this record, but when [guitarist] Ben Phillips and I were writing, we tried really hard not to limit ourselves. As soon as you put any limitations on yourself as a writer, you’re immediately stunting yourself. So nothing was off the table. The reason we love rock ‘n’ roll so much is it represents freedom and it really does encompass everything. Rock ‘n’ roll is everything — it’s the blues, it’s jazz, it’s funk, it’s country, it’s pop. It’s all those things, so you can go in so many different directions and it’s still rock ‘n’ roll.
People from Gene Simmons to Lenny Kravitz have declared that rock is dead. Clearly it’s not, but it seems like there’s a narrower idea today of what rock entails.
As soon as the word “Active” got put in front of “Rock,” it became very testosterone-based. We’ve always had the same motto – “try not to try” — and that’s something we really tried to implement on this record. It wasn’t about being fast or heavy or slow. We really tried to capture the human element with each of these songs, and that’s why all the great records that have lasted the test of time are great.
You used old-school recording techniques to give capture organic quality, even though you may have sacrificed some of the precision and polish of many modern recordings in the process.
Back in the golden age of rock there were no computers and no ability to manipulate stuff, so we tried not to do that on this record. The sound of a real guitar note is important. You want to hear the player behind the music and what he’s trying to express, without all this technology.
Why did you call the album Who You Selling For?
By posing a question instead of defining something, at least it’s open for interpretation so everyone’s going to have a different thought of what “selling for” means. To me, it means something different every day. In general, I’m selling for music. I give everything to music. But today I’m selling for Yahoo.
Do you feel like a product?
I don’t feel like a product, but sometimes I feel like I get treated like a product. In the modern age, instead of treating the music as the product, the artist gets treated as the product, especially with social media. You become the promotion machine itself. It’s a strange time.
Are you active on Twitter and Instagram?
I use it to communicate with my fans and give out pertinent information about where we’re playing, but I don’t give out personal information. I try to stay off it as much as I can. I’m writing songs, and if you’re living on the Internet it’s not real. It doesn’t actually exist. It does, but it’s virtual. It’s not reality. I very much like to live in reality, not a virtual reality.
What was the greatest challenge you faced making this record?
Challenges come up along the way. It starts from the beginning. The writing process is always the most torturous, but it’s also the most rewarding. It takes the longest and it’s the hardest because these songs are coming from your own head and you never know when an idea is going to come. But when we finish a good song, there is no better feeling. The next challenge is taking it to the band and figuring out where the song is going to take us when we’re playing as a full band and where the recording is going to go. It’s all torture and then complete and utter bliss. But it’s all cathartic as well. The ups and downs are necessary to create good art.
There seems to be a lot of frustration in these songs. Where did that come from?
I think there are common themes of desperation and confusion. I was trying to adapt back to regular life after being on tour for so long. The tour really is a bubble. We toured Going to Hell for two years and when we got home I went, “Where did two years of my life just go? And who am I now?” So there’s an adjustment period and you have to try to find yourself again. I think that is reflected in a lot in the lyrics and the writing of this record. You’re so disconnected from society when you’re on tour, so when you get back home you feel very alone and you have to try to figure out how to reconnect back into the real world. That can be a challenge.
After doing two albums with vivid images of you on the cover, you went with a melancholy black-and-yellow sketch of an androgynous, long-haired figure looking down. Why did you choose that route?
A friend of mine did that. They listened to the record and sent back this piece of art. When we saw it, the whole band threw their hands up and said, “Well, that’s the record cover.” We were going through a lot of ideas, but this one fit the title so well. Everyone has a different take on it. It’s abstract expressionism. There’s so many things you can take from it, which fits with the record, which goes all over the place. Every time I look at that image I see something different. And I think that was very reflective of the record and of how I was feeling. The yellow parchment represents age, which is appropriate to me. We were all feeling older these days.
When you had three #1 songs in a row on Going to Hell, you were praised as the first female-fronted band since the Pretenders to achieve that. But it seems like you’re far more interested in being a great band than being a great female-fronted band.
I don’t see gender like that. I just think a good song is a good song; a good band is a good band. All my idols were men: John Lennon, Chris Cornell, Robert Plant, the list goes on and on. I just think good is good, bad is bad. It’s that simple. I don’t see the need for anyone to separate one band from another and say, “They are female-fronted; they are not.” It just doesn’t register that way for me.
You said touring for two years straight made you crazy. Do you plan to tour differently for this album?
We’re going to try to do it a little differently. I would like to record a little bit between some of the shows rather that tour for two years and then going, “Where did that block of my life go?” When I’m going that long without creating something new, it starts to wear on me. I start to lose my sanity a little bit.
Do you have any pursuits outside of music?
I consider myself a writer. I’m working on a couple different books right now. I don’t know if they’ll ever get released, but I’m working on them. That’s a form I’d like to entertain. I’m doing a little of everything. Obviously I write poetry because lyrics are poetry, but I’m working on a children’s book. I’m sure there’ll be some sort of autobiography of the band at some point. I’m working on a novel. These are just things I do as a hobby to try to keep myself sane. And I sculpt and I paint, but that’s more for me personally and not for the public.
Would you ever consider returning to acting?
No, I never want to do that again. That was so my childhood. I literally was in junior high, so I look back on that and it feels like a past life. Playing a character is not something I’m interested. I’m much more interested in self-expression.