Taylor Momsen: A pretty reckless girl 

Taylor Momsen isn’t really a conniving, homewrecking, raccoon-mascaraed vixen. She just plays one on TV.

That’s why her fashion-designer character on the CW’s “Gossip Girl,” Jenny Humphrey, has been banished from high society to the lowly suburbs for her crimes in this year’s season finale.

But the script lull — which Momsen personally requested — is serving a higher purpose: It lets the 16-year-old actress complete this summer’s Vans Warped Tour with her rough-and-tumble rock combo, The Pretty Reckless. The juggernaut hits Shoreline on Saturday.

Momsen first appeared on television at age 3, ad-libbing her precocious way through a Shake ’N Bake commercial.

By age 5, she was starring alongside Jim Carrey as Cindy Lou Who in “How The Grinch Stole Christmas,” and by 13 was working with Gus Van Sant in “Paranoid Park.”

At 14, she became an IMG model, and is now the face of hip UK clothiers New Look. And she already knows what cynics are thinking — so how good, really, could The Pretty Reckless be? Good. Surprisingly good.

On the band’s eponymous debut EP for Interscope (a full album follows this fall), Momsen snaps and snarls like a metal-scene vet, on powerchorded grinders like “Zombie,” “Goin’ Down” and the Romeo-and-Juliet-themed “Make Me Wanna Die.”

Her personable rasp imbues each cut with the same bad-girl conviction she brings to her Humphrey vamp. “It is a very honest record,” she admits. “It’s what I wrote, and I’m not trying to be anything other than me.”

Momsen never considered pursuing music until her dad took her to a White Stripes concert at 9. Then she bought her first six-string and started composing.

Once she found co-writers — producer Kato Khandwala and guitarist Ben Phillips — The Pretty Reckless were born. “Which I thought sounded better than ‘Moderately Reckless,’” she chuckles.

“But the TV show has been super-supportive, and I have to thank them for that. They’re letting me follow my passion.”

It’s not easy when you’re tabloid fodder. “I can’t go outside without having somebody ask for an autograph or a photo,” says the leggy blonde, whose penchant for stiletto heels and Gothic miniskirts get her recognized daily in New York. “I think if I wore more pants, people might not notice me as much. But that’s just how I dress.”

Momsen misconceptions? “There are a billion,” she sighs. “But listen to the record and you’ll know me a lot better than from what some magazine is writing about me. Listen to it before you write me off as some devil-worshiping demon who cuts babies with my switchblade and drinks their blood!”


IF YOU GO
The Pretty Reckless

Playing the Vans Warped Tour

Where: Shoreline Amphitheatre, One Amphitheatre Parkway, Mountain View
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Tickets: $33
Contact: (800) 745-3000; www.livenation.com

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Staff Report

Staff Report

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A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
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