Avril Lavigne: the Beatweek 2014 interview

Avril Lavigne has nothing against the two lead singles from her new self titled record, both of which are right in her wheelhouse stylistically. But the other songs are the ones she really wants you to hear. “The rest of the record I like better,” she says of the more diverse album tracks which see her venturing in several new directions and diving into some of her deepest lyrics to date.

There’s the duet with new husband Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, a balled called Let Me Go. There’s the “super heavy” dark rocker called Bad Girl. “And then I did something different when I wrote a song called Hello Kitty,” she reveals. “It’s got an electronic vibe to it, so it’s kind of crazy. Then I’ve got some summer songs. There’s a song called Bitchin’ Summer and Sipping On Sunshine. They’re kind of campfire songs.”

The collaborative efforts with Kroeger go beyond their duet, as they co-wrote half the record together. “He’s a pretty badass songwriter,” she says of the collaboration. “His band has like fucking seventeen number one hits. So when he says something I trust his opinion: ‘okay, you win on this one.’ So he’s a really good lyricist. He’s good at ideas. When we do stuff for me, he has to think outside the box differently because I’m a chick and I like to really be able to empower my female fans. I also like my music to reach everybody, different ages, guys and girls. So it’s been cool conceptualizing with him and trying new stuff. He always makes me feel really good about my vocal picks, and it’s nice working with another singer because he understands.”

Bad Girl allows her to finally work with old pal Marilyn Manson. “We’ve known each other for ten years,” she says. “I went to his concert when I was eighteen and then we hung out backstage and then we kept in contact and we’ve been buds for awhile. When I had this song I called him up and I was like ‘Yo, come over to the studio and hear this tune.’ And he was like ‘Okay, I’ll be over there at four.’ Four o’clock in the morning. Okay, I guess I’m staying up all night. He liked the song, he put vocals down, and he killed it. It’s one of my favorite ones on the record.”

But the songs aren’t the only new territory into which Avril ventures. The album cover photo unlike any she’s posed for before. “I wanted to put my hair up because I never do that. And so it’s kind of a couture goth thing too. There’s different elements. It’s new looking for me. A lot of the fashion that I’m doing now is glammed up a bit, glam rock. I have fun with leather jackets and spikes and studs and black, black, black everything. Black and red. Kind of where I’m at fashion wise.”

Those fashion leanings carry over to her Abbey Dawn fashion line. “I always make clothing that I like and that I’m wearing at the time. And so it’s literally my personal style, things that I want to wear.”

For all its new angles, the album does have its moments of past reflection. The song 17 sees her revisiting the year in which her career first took off. “I always find myself going back to seventeen in conversation. I’ll always be like, yeah, I did that when I was seventeen. So much happened to me in that year that I’ve always wanted to write a song about being seventeen.”

Five albums into her career, Avril approaches her live setlists with fans in mind. “All the singles from all the records. I think that’s important because when people come out they want that.” But that doesn’t mean her concerts are predictable: “Sometimes I play drums live, I play the piano, and I play the guitar. So I break the show up in different sections and then I pick my favorite stuff.”

Some of the new songs will find their way into the setlist as well, with Hello Kitty being the wildcard. “It has an electronic feel and I haven’t done that before, so I don’t know how it’s gonna sound. But I look forward to playing Give You What You Like because it’s mysterious and it’s a character in a story.”

Three years after launching the Avril Lavigne Foundation to benefit children, she’s expanding her efforts into new territory. “This year we started a campership program and we sent fifty kids with disabilities to summer camp, which is important to them because it’s something that they look forward to, seeing their friends. They stay connected with their friends that they’re going to see all year. So when I went and visited a camp last summer I was like, for sure I wanted to send kids to camp. So we gave grants, and we do auctions and stuff to try to get the fans involved. We keep a rock star theme to it.”

With the self titled record scoring yet another top ten chart debut this week, and east coast tour dates kicking off in December, Avril Lavigne is as on top of the world as ever. But she’s keeping it humble: “I’m so excited to be here today and be still making music.”

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