Hell remains a source of inspiration for all kinds of art. It’s impossible to even catalog how many books, movies, plays, and records have been written on the subject. However, the world’s fascination with the big ole inferno never dwindles or dissipates.
The Pretty Reckless’ second full-length album Going to Hell flirts with those themes, most notably on the raucous and roaring title track. Over a twisting and turning riff and bombastic rhythm, frontwoman Taylor Momsen confidently announces, “I’m going to Hell.”
“We had so many insane things happening in our lives, we wanted to sum everything up in one phrase,” she recalls. “Going to Hell felt really appropriate. I grew up Catholic and did the whole Catholic school thing, so it’s in my vernacular. We used religion as a metaphor, but the track relates to problems everyone faces. I think this is the perfect time for us to be doing what we’re doing.”
Even if the making of Going to Hell often felt like some kind of divine prank, one senses this is their moment. After two years on the road The Pretty Reckless—Momsen, Ben Phillips [guitar], Mark Damon [bass], and Jamie Perkins [drums]—had risen through rock ‘n’ roll’s ranks to become a profound, and often polarizing, presence. The quartet sold over 350,000 albums and over 1 million digital tracks performing as headliners all around the globe and supporting acts such as Guns N’ Roses and Marilyn Manson.
Finally in September 2012, the band returned to Water Music Studios in New Jersey to begin recording what would become their sophomore set with producer Kato Khandwala. They had recorded much of their album when tragedy struck as Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast.
“The record was really coming together, and then this fucking hurricane takes out the studio and everything we had,” said Phillips. “Six feet of water destroyed our room, and half-a-million dollars of gear was sitting in a pile of sewage and sludge. Almost everything we had was wiped out in one fell swoop.”
Momsen continues, “We were devastated… and then seeing New York City completely black was pretty crazy. For streets and streets, there was nothing but darkness. That’s when we wrote the title track… it was all pretty intense.”
Equally intense is the upcoming single “Heaven Knows”. A big arena-size beat resounds as Momsen’s seductive snarl echoes, while she simultaneously conducts a choir of school kids.
On another track, the acoustic strum of “Burn” singes with raw power, while “Sweet Things” nods to Stanley Kubrick with its Lolita-style tale and Momsen’s haunting croon. She reveals, “It’s a dark, turned-around, and twisted story.”
Ultimately Going To Hell is rock ‘n’ roll in its purest form. The Pretty Reckless holds nothing back. “We did this album with the mindset of having no boundaries,”Momsen concludes. “We didn’t follow any formulas or trends. We said anything we wanted to say. This is us.”