Despite what her first hit song expressed, for Avril Lavigne, it’s not complicated.
With the release of her latest self-titled record, she is exactly where she wants to be in her career right now – simply having fun.
“I think just with starting off playing and performing at seven, and then being in the industry now for a while, music really truly is my life… Now, with my fifth record, …I can work on any project I want. Like I was thinking about doing a Christmas record, and with this record, I tried out some new stuff and experimented a little bit. But at this point, really, I just get to have fun with it,” Lavigne told The Weekender in a recent phone interview.
“I wanted to have fun and I took my time and I worked with all new people that I never worked with before, so it was exciting and it was fresh. And then having the opportunity to work with (producer) L.A. Reid also contributed to that. So it was just a good time, and now that the record’s out, it feels really good and I’m happy that the fans get to have the new material because I know that they were really waiting for it.”
Pop rock fans have been hooked since her debut record “Let Go” came out in 2002, selling over 16 million albums worldwide on the strength of singles like “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi.” The momentum continued in 2004 with “Don’t Tell Me” and “My Happy Ending” from “Under My Skin” and with “Girlfriend” from 2007’s “The Best Damn Thing.” The first single from her new album, “Here’s to Never Growing Up,” continues this tradition sonically but is also surrounded by experimentation fostered by several new collaborators and producers.
“Because I’m writing my songs and I’m such a huge part of that process and the recording, I like to stay and keep with my roots and to be me. I feel like this record is me and it’s the sounds that you’re familiar with hearing from me from all my previous albums, but just experimenting, working with new people, and growing. I think it’s good that there’s new stuff to offer to the new material and sounds and styles to offer to the fans, but it’s still me. And there’s such a variety overall,” she explained.
“Songs like ‘Here’s to Never Growing Up,’ the first single – that’s very me. I think it’s a song that the listeners are used to hearing from me, probably, and just that spirit and that attitude. So there’s songs like that, pop songs that are fun, and there’s also kind of something for everyone on this record with the diversity. Songs like ‘Hush Hush’ and ‘Give You What You Like,’ they’re more raw and emotional, and then ‘Hello Kitty’ is more like up-tempo and kind of electronic.”
At 29, the Canadian singer/songwriter feels like she can now demonstrate her different musical sides freely, singing with shock rocker Marilyn Manson on “Bad Girl” and Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger on power ballad “Let Me Go.”
“I love rock music, I love ballads, I love pop rock, and that’s what you guys have heard from me throughout the years. Like with ‘Bad Girl,’ it’s just a straight up rock song that has a catchy melody with a darker production on it, and I love that kind of music. I could make an entire record like that, which I would love to,” she enthused.
“‘Hello Kitty’ started off as more of a pop rock song, and then I wanted the track to kind of carry the tune, so after writing the song and recording it, it went back to the drawing board and I brought in a new producer, Martin Johnson, and had him play around with the track and then he took it into that world of like a dirty, kind of electronic tone and vibe. I just wanted it to be unique, and it’s the only song I’ve done like that. It’s good to experiment.”
Kroeger worked with Lavigne on almost every song on the album, bringing them so close that they fell in love and were married in July. She said their instant connection stemmed from their shared passion for music and songwriting, an aspect of her work she takes great pride in.
“We’re both real musicians. We play the guitar, we write our own songs, we’ve traveled around the world performing on stage. He’d sit down on the drum kit and play, as can I. We can both dabble on the piano. So getting together with somebody who plays the instruments that I play and who is also a true songwriter, with his background and my background, we were able to do a lot of storytelling. We were able to write more musical pieces together, and as well, pop songs, but the pop songs came at the end and a lot of the songs that are more musical and have more stories and depth to them were actually the first tunes that we worked on together,” Lavigne noted, adding that over 30 songs came out of the sessions.
“When we first got together, the first week in the studio, Chad, David, and I – (former Evanescence member) David Hodges – the three of us – we called ourselves ‘The Tripod’ – we wrote like a song a day, sometimes two, sometimes three. And the music was all just in the moment. We hit on different stuff lyrically, emotionally, and just melodically, musically. There’s a lot of great stuff that didn’t go on this record because we wanted to, I guess, come out with some pop singles, so there’s a lot of stuff that is quite meaningful that I would love to put out that I will release.”
Performing right up until five days before Christmas, Lavigne said that 98.5 KRZ’s “Let It Show” concert with Jason Derulo, Midnight Red, Christian Porter, and Sunset Villains at the Mohegan Sun Arena at Casey Plaza in Wilkes-Barre on Thursday, Dec. 5 should prove to be “a different type of show” on the tour.
“Any time the concerts can kind of be switched up, it’s nice. Radio shows are fun because I like having the opportunity to get out there on stage and to be performing to an audience that has more than one or two bands performing for them. I feel like the energy is always really good,” she said.
“People are excited also during the holidays. Coming up on the holidays like this, I think people are in good spirits, so for me, it’s fun just to run out there. Sometimes it’s five songs, sometimes it’s 30 minutes, so my set list will be different every day for December, so I look forward to it just for the variety and excitement around it all.”
Her tour starts up again in February when she flies to Japan, then to Southeast Asia and China.
“The Japanese crowd, they’re very different than the rest of Asia. They’re very quiet in between every song because they want to listen, and they kind of like have their rock out moves where they’re fist pumping and everyone does it in unison,” she described.
“They’re pretty cool. They’re really respectful and they like to have fun, but then when I’m playing like a slow song, they’re really quiet and just listen, so it’s a different experience.
“The rest of Asia, like China and Southeast Asia, they’re nuts. It’s crazy. Everyone’s running everywhere. People in the seats are trying to run down. It’s just like mayhem.”
With her hand in everything from clothing lines to fragrances to charities, the young entrepreneur is always busy, but the mission remains to make a living having fun.
“I’m happy I’m still working on music today, and I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to release music. That’s what I love to do and to travel the world and to tour. I think to experiment, like going in a different direction, and just trying out a different project would be fun for me, like doing a Christmas album, and dabbling in the acting world a little bit. I love to perform, so I guess that’s my goal, to maybe to do a movie or something fun.”