Chris Cornell's death in 2018 rocked Taylor Momsen. The Pretty Reckless singer, 28, was on tour with Soundgarden when Cornell died by suicide. In a new interview, Momsen reveals she also lost her best friend around the same time, which sent her into a spiral of "depression" and "substance abuse."
"I don't want to get too heavy, but there's kind of no way to talk about it without going into the losses that we experienced," the Gossip Girl alum tells singer Brent Smith for Interview magazine. "We lost a lot of people very close to us. We were on tour with Soundgarden, which was such a peak for me. I'm the biggest Soundgarden fan in the world. Chris Cornell passed away on the night of our last show. That was crushing to me. I was not mentally prepared to handle that, and it really took me down."
Momsen quickly realized she "couldn't get on stage every night and be OK."
"I couldn't fake it. So I canceled the tour and went home. Then, I learned that our producer Kato, my best friend in the whole world and practically a member of the band, died in a motorcycle accident. That was the nail in the coffin for me," she says. "I spiraled real fast: depression, substance abuse. I fell into this hole that I couldn't get out of — I didn't even know if I wanted to. I finally got to a place where I felt like I really needed music again — I was depriving myself of it during that time, and I’d never done that."
Momsen had to reintroduce music into her life.
"I started from the beginning. I asked myself why I fell in love with music, where did it start? I went through all the bands I grew up loving, and was even able to eventually listen to Soundgarden again, and have it bring me joy," she shares.
The Pretty Reckless released their fourth studio album last year, titled Death by Rock and Roll.
"This record is an homage to those loved and lost, and it's very hopeful. It captures the arc of grief — at the end, it does get better. The phrase Death by Rock and Roll, is very important, because it was something Kato used to say, and a motto that we lived our lives by," Momsen continues. "We had a recording of Kato's footsteps, and the record begins with that sound. We play that every show, like he's walking onstage with us."
Momsen is back on tour with rock band Shinedown.
If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction, contact Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline at 800-662-HELP (4357)
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.