Like her co-star Leighton Meester, Taylor Momsen rose to fame as an actress on the TV series Gossip Girl before launching a separate music career. She formed the Reckless in 2009, later changing the band’s name to the Pretty Reckless to avoid trademark problems. With Momsen on vocals, John Secolo on guitar, Matt Chiarelli on bass, and Nick Carbone on drums, the group began finding a balance between hard rock and post-grunge, taking cues from female-fronted bands like Hole and the Runaways along the way. They worked quickly, playing some initial shows in New York City before landing an opening slot on the Veronicas’ North American tour several months later. The tour went well, and Interscope Records signed the band before the year was up.
The Pretty Reckless completely revised their lineup in 2010, with Momsen retaining her frontwoman role as guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon, and drummer Jamie Perkins all replaced her previous bandmates. After spending several months in the studio, the group released its first single, "Make Me Wanna Die," on the Kick-Ass soundtrack. The band's first album, Light Me Up, saw release in Europe and Australia in late summer of 2010 and the record rolled out in North America in 2011. The Pretty Reckless toured steadily behind Light Me Up, releasing the Hit Me Like a Man EP in March of 2012. A year later, the group's second full-length album, Going to Hell, appeared. Going to Hell performed better than their first album, debuting at number five on Billboard's Top 200, partially on the strength of the Mainstream Rock hits "Heaven Knows," "Messed Up World," and "Follow Me Down." The album also went to number eight in the U.K. Two years later, the Pretty Reckless returned with their third album, Who You Selling For, which was preceded by the single "Take Me Down." ~ Andrew Leahey