'The Best Damn Avril ... Period!'
Five short years ago Avril Lavigne was your stereotypical angst-ridden teen with a sullen face and lots of attitude. With a penchant for spitting at photographers, flipping the bird on TV and conducting interviews in monosyllabic grunts, the singer was renowned for her difficult stance.
But as the ďanti-BritneyĒ of pop, Avrilís brattiness and skater-chick image won her an adoring army of disaffected teenage fans following her hits 'Complicated' and the punk pop anthem 'Sk8er Boi' in 2002.
Now she's back with a new album, a new vibe, and a new image with The Best Damn Thing, due out April 17th, 2007.
Catching up with the petite Avril - slumped lazily on a giant sofa in a plush Mayfair hotel - we ask many questions, relating to many subjects, and thankfully get many answers back:
How's life treating Avril Lavigne these days? "Iím in a really good place in my personal life. I feel good. Iím settled, things are great. Now Iím a few years older than when my first record came out and life is easier. I have a clear understanding of who I am. Iím more mature and Iím getting it. You learn.Ē
Less than a year into her marriage to Sum 41 singer and guitarist Deryck Whibley, this is a new Avril. The pair, who wed in July last year, got together in the studio as soon as they returned from their honeymoon and Mr Lavigne even produced two songs on her new album. And it is not only her lighter blonde hair with shocking pink stripes or her sexier look ó fishnet tights, lower cut tops and shorter skirts. Avril has also found a new sound on her new album, The Best Damn Thing.
So, just how much influence did Deryck have on this new album? "Strangely enough, he was part of the record from the start because heís in my life and Iím constantly talking about it. Deryck was producing the Sum 41 record, so he was in the studio and I asked if he could do tracks because theyíre kind of punky songs and I thought he would be really good for them.Ē
While fans may be surprised at the new bright and breezy sound ó and the first out and open love songs of her career ó Avril is glad she no longer feels the need to use her music as an outlet for intense teen issues. "My last record was kind of like a diary, all the things I was going through, and were personal and serious. This record is opposite lyrically. Itís not serious. Thereís a couple of songs that are about where Iím at with that kind of stuff, but it makes this record very light and very easy ó easy to perform, easy to listen to."
"I discovered that my favourite songs to play live are ones like 'Sk8er Boi' and 'He Wasnít' ó the faster stuff. So, because I spend so much of my life touring and playing shows every night, I was inspired to make it really fast and fun so I can run around on stage and have a really good time.Ē
What's up with all that girly, extremely choreographed dance routine in the video to 'Girlfriend'?! "Honestly," she laughs, turning her head (and therein gaze) slightly to her right, "itís all really cool and very, very me. When you hear 'Girlfriend,' it just makes you want to dance. So, I thought ĎI have to dance to thisí. It just suited the song, so that was exciting to do, something new.Ē
Indee, Avrilís new musical direction has earned comparisons to the likes of Britney of old. But even though she is an LA resident, she stays clear of the Paris Hilton/Lindsay Lohan/Britney social scene. ďI go out now and then to clubs, but I know people who go to every red carpet event in LA and I donít. I go somewhere if I need to be somewhere. Iíll go to an award show if I need to be there. To me all that stuff is so not cool."
ďYou get overexposed. Itís not good for people to know everything about you. I keep my personal life personal and I try to avoid certain places. Iíve got better things to do.Ē
What's your opinion on the recent Britney Spears fiasco?! "Itís all about what kind of person you are,Ē she says very matter-of-factly. ďIím a strong person. I think her situation is much bigger than mine, she is much bigger and different. The press is not all over me like that. I think sheís probably one of the people who canít control it."
"But I think, if you donít want it you probably could get away from it. I donít want my picture taken all the time. Itís not good for you.Ē
Knowing this new album is more personal, more tamed down this time, did you have to make any special pleas to the producers to get them on your side? "Not really. I told the record company ĎIím not going to play you anything until Iím doneí. I was like ĎNo A&R (artist and repertoire) guy. No one is hearing anything. Iím going to do this on my owní. I went into the studio with a vision. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with this record. I had a million creative ideas, got them all out, recorded it and didnít think about anything. But because I totally did my own thing by myself and went where I wanted on this record, I was nervous."
"I mean, can you imagine if my label didnít like it? But, they did.Ē
On The Best Damn Thing, Avril retains some of her famous boy-bashing lyrics on tracks 'I Can Do Better' and 'Everything Back But You.' She reminds guys how to treat a girl on the single 'The Best Damn Thing,' where she sings about hating guys who donít get the door or pay for dinner. So does her new husband fill all the tick boxes in the gentleman duties she sings about in this title track? "Absolutely,Ē she laughs. ďI wouldnít have it any other way. I made it very clear that I donít care if itís the house or the car door. He must get it I do a lot for myself, but Iím all about the guy opening the door or paying the tab for a girl but my Deryckís a good one, a keeper.Ē
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