AVRIL LAVIGNE IS STILL THE MOTHERF*CKING (POP-PUNK) PRINCESS
For the last 20 years, Avril Lavigne has been an enigma that nobody could quite figure out. Was she an ingenious, 17-year-old, tomboy songwriter, or was she a “poser?” A fashion icon who made girls around the world rock neckties, or a bad influence who showed butt cleavage at the VMAs? A Guinness-world record-breaker who reached over 100 million views on YouTube for her “Girlfriend” music video, or a clone imposter named “Melissa?”
Maybe the reason the media and haters had trouble with Avril Lavigne is because they couldn’t put her in a box, and unfortunately for them, they still can’t! Avril is still rocking her punk-rock style, but changing it up every once in a while with a pink or sparkly number (like her recent outfit choice for this year’s VMAs). She’s still writing deep and poetic songs, but also high-energy, fun tunes that you can blast when you’re pissed off at your boyfriend. People on the internet are still speculating about weird conspiracy theories, but Avril still looks and sounds almost exactly the same as she did on her debut concert tour in 2002 (and that’s a good thing).
AVRIL LAVIGNE AND THE TWO DECADES THAT PAVED THE WAY FOR POP-PUNK
It’s been 20 years since Avril Lavigne released her debut album Let Go and emerged on the music scene as the newest it girl in pop punk. Avril created the pop punk genre releasing hit after hit and establishing herself as a lyrical genius, fashion icon, and a voice that not only spoke to a generation, but defined it. As she celebrates the 20th anniversary of Let Go, the album that kick started her career, the songstress shows no signs of slowing down.
Avril Lavigne would like you to think that she has a donkey.
The singer is currently living out in Malibu, a mostly peaceful place just west of Los Angeles. It reminds her of her home in Canada, not because of the sun or the waves but the “country vibes” and rolling hills. Her neighbours, she tells me, have a donkey, and she winds herself into hysterics trying to explain what noise he makes: “He doesn’t bark, he just makes noises. He yelps. Squeaks. Talks? It’s so funny,” she adds: “I don’t personally have a donkey, but write that in the article. ‘Avril Lavigne puts out new single ‘Bite Me’, moves to Malibu and gets a donkey.’”
Lavigne might not have a donkey all her own, but it’s clear that she’s in a great place right now – Malibu, but also personally. Now 37 years old and on her seventh album, she has settled into her place in the world: “I’m really grateful to still be doing what I love and to have a musical outlet. I’m having so much fun with it all, and I guess you can tell,” she says. “I’m not just putting out another record to put out a record, I’m making music this far into my career because I truly want to and it’s just such a big part of my life. I’m so excited to still be doing my thing.”
Read Avril’s great article in the newest edition of Nylon magazine. Coolest revelations from the article: the new album is due in January and Avril is FINALLY getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2022!
DON’T UNDERESTIMATE AVRIL LAVIGNE
THE QUEEN OF POP-PUNK IS BACK TO DOING WHAT SHE DOES BEST: BEING AVRIL LAVIGNE.
It was 2004, and a 19-year-old Avril Lavigne walked into her first NYLON cover shoot with a look that’s become pop culture cannon: Doc Martens, her outfits covered in “lots of studs and zippers,” as the article goes on to describe; her hair pin-straight and unbleached, with dark layers underneath. Seventeen years later, she enters her latest NYLON cover shoot — her fifth — as if dozens of style trends haven’t come and gone since. Her hair is lighter, flipped over to one side but still pin-straight; her shoes are platform slip-ons with razor blade-shaped zip pulls; her jeans are baggy and ripped at the knee, as if she’s come from a day skateboarding in the back alley. In 2004, the look was lambasted by critics as a teenage girl marketing manufactured punk, but Lavigne begs to differ; tucked into a leather couch in a downtown L.A. studio, she recalls early photoshoots where she was the one calling the shots. “I’d show up and they were like, ‘Can she wear this pink blouse?’ And I’d be like, ‘I’m not wearing that.’ I’d pull out my book bag, and all of my ties. It was my thing.”
Avril Lavigne used to be known as a pop-punk princess, but her more recent albums deviated from that vibe a bit. She’s confirmed that her new album is done, and according to rock producer and Goldfinger frontman John Feldmann, the singer just may be making a return to her angsty ways.
This past Saturday (Feb. 6), Lavigne responded to an eager fan in her Instagram comments stating that her seventh studio album is, in fact, done. “Music coming soon. For sure summer,” she wrote, with an electric guitar emoji.
In December, Feldmann enthusiastically told Australia’s Wall of Sound that he’s bringing her back to her pop-punk roots with this new album. Anyone remember the Under My Skin days? We’ll gladly take some more of that.
Avril Lavigne can do her own eyeliner — a smudgy, inky black that’s been her signature for nearly two decades — in five minutes flat. It’s a feat she announces with a sense of pride, exaggerating a fluttering of the eyes to show off her latest doing. It’s also a skill that comes in handy when a global pop star finds herself quarantined with a full day of video interviews and no glam squad.
Normally, Lavigne only wears mascara and some eyebrow gel while at home in Los Angeles. Today, however, she’s in work mode promoting her latest single, so full eyeliner it is. The song, “We Are Warriors,” is a remix of “Warriors,” off her 2019 album Head Above Water, the net proceeds from sales and streams will go to global health organization Project HOPE’s COVID-19 relief efforts, in partnership with the Avril Lavigne Foundation. “My whole tour got canceled, and I thought, ‘I want to be able to do something and give back somehow,’” she explains. “I’ve been moved by the frontline workers and what they are doing, and they are being referred to as warriors. I took my song ‘Warriors,’ and re-recorded it in the home studio to make it ‘We Are Warriors,’ about everyone who is risking their lives to help. It’s a small token of my appreciation.”
Now, Lavigne, 35, is winding down for the night in her home studio. “I still have high-waisted jeans on, and I can’t wait to take them off,” she says over Zoom, sipping on a colorful red liquid she later identifies as water with added electrolytes. She’s cross-legged on a keyboard bench, above which hang several black and white framed photos of herself. “I was thinking today that maybe I should film myself doing makeup,” she says, laughing at herself. “I’ll be like, ‘Hi, today I’m going to be an influencer. Let me get my camera angle right.’ We’ll do everything except contour.” The key to the Avril Lavigne eye, she explains to her audience of one, is the blending. “With a smoky eye, you cannot just do black,” she says. “You start with white, then you put grey, then a little bit of brown, and then black on the ends. You have to blend all these colors. Does she have a favorite eyeliner? “Yes, b*tch!” It’s MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder.
After 17 years in a strict religious household outside Toronto, Avril Lavigne had enough pent-up angst to effectively launch a new pop-punk paradigm. “I wasn’t really allowed to really go anywhere or do anything,” says Lavigne. “I was definitely a good girl with strong morals, [but] my parents watched me like a fucking hawk.”
Despite her hyper-orthodox upbringing, Lavigne’s early smashes, from “Complicated” to “Sk8er Boi,” centered on high-school averageness—endorsing reckless use of eyeliner rather than actual lawlessness. Rivaling the scale of bubblegum opposites like Britney and Christina, Lavigne’s 2002 debut record Let Go would sell 20 million copies worldwide, thrusting her into adulthood and global fame simultaneously. “The first 10 years after leaving home, it was like, ‘woo!’ I went wild,” says Lavigne. She adds, “No sleep, Jack Daniels and beer. I would say that continued until the third album, when I was married,” referring to her first marriage at 21 to Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley.
But after a decade of manic quasi-maturity, Lavigne’s energy drink-chugging pace would slow to deathlike stillness. In 2014, during her second marriage to Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger, she came down with Lyme Disease. “I was like, oh my God, am I done? I couldn’t think about anything other than breathing and eating,” she says of her now-public battle with the disorder, the inspiration for her sixth album and its titular first single, “Head Above Water.”
While her stamina isn’t quite what it was, today Lavigne has regained her freedoms and is planning a fall tour. Nor has she lost all that early-aughts angst. (Asked if recent single “Dumb Blonde” represented a reversal of her anti-Britney persona, Lavigne says “No.”) But she is a true believer in the power of positive thinking. “I do the whole gratitude list thing,” she says. “I can’t do [it all] the way I used to, but I look at how far I’ve come and I just thank God.”
Seventeen years after her angsty pop punk made her a global star, Avril Lavigne’s back with a sixth album. And having survived illness and divorce, she’s in no mood to compromise
Pop stars – especially women – are frozen at the age they become famous. Breaking the ice usually involves a bad-girl reinvention, if not a genuine breakdown. Somehow, this tension never affected Avril Lavigne, the Canadian pop-punk star who arrived in 2002 aged 17 with the brilliant Complicated, a heaving teenage sigh directed at some poseur boy. It’s not that she didn’t have an indelible look: her low-slung skate pants, tie and ramrod-straight hair are an enduring fancy-dress costume. It’s that she never seemed to want to grow up.
Her alternately fun, angsty debut album, Let Go, seemed authentic enough – she played guitar! The lyrics were handwritten! – to convince a generation of teenage girls that she, and by association, they, were more credible than Britney. Then 13, I was one of them; I wore Dad’s tie to the shops and wasted hours learning how to copy her handwriting. It was music many quickly graduated from, to acts whose credits didn’t list multiple co-writers: the drug of authenticity hooks teenagers fast. But there is no shame in being a gateway artist, a role Lavigne seemed surprisingly happy to keep playing.
After an emotionally intense second album, she seemed to dial back the years with 2007’s The Best Damn Thing, led by single Girlfriend, a Hey Mickey-style rager about homewrecking. Goodbye Lullaby (2011) had What the Hell (“All I want is to mess around”) and her 2013 self-titled album boasted Bitchin’ Summer (ie School’s Out with swearing) and Here’s to Never Growing Up (“We’ll be running down the street, yelling, ‘Kiss my ass’”). She was 29. A year later, she started feeling inexplicably exhausted. Doctors tried to diagnose her with anxiety and chronic fatigue, even though she was sure she had Lyme disease. Finally, she got a vindicating diagnosis and spent two years in bed on antibiotics, certain, at one point, that she would die.
At Home With Avril Lavigne, Who’s Finally Back (And Totally Ready to Party)
The motherfucking princess is in her motherfucking castle.
The princess is Avril Lavigne, who anointed herself on her 2007 No. 1 single “Girlfriend.” The castle — a Tudor home in an illustriously ZIP-coded L.A. neighborhood — is the only thing Lavigne has presided over since a tour that ended in 2014.
A few weeks before the release of “Head Above Water,” her first single in four-and-a-half years, Lavigne sits under the cathedral-high ceiling of her home studio. It is the room where, over the course of her public absence, she recorded much of the album she plans to release in early 2019.
Lavigne’s many songs about partying — and the Jack Daniel’s lawn jockey who greeted me at the door — suggested that we’d wind up drinking whiskey, or at least the rosé her publicist suggested I bring. (Avril Lavigne drinks rosé?) But Lavigne is sipping Emergen-C-spiked electrolyte water, combating seasonal allergies. From her seat on a massive gray sectional (Avril Lavigne owns a sectional?), she reveals that she painted much of the art displayed in the expansive foyer and shows me the pink devotional journal gifted to her by her mother. Under the daily prayers topping each page are guitar tabs and ambitious to-do lists written in Lavigne’s bubbly handwriting: Complete album. Choose single. Shoot video. Dentist.