Image Credit: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.comWhen EW last talked to Avril Lavigne in July 2009, the Canadian pop-punk star spoke happily of collaborating with her then-husband, Sum 41 frontman Deryck Whibley, on her fourth album, scheduled for release that November.
We caught up with the 26-year-old singer as she finished recording a pre-taped segment for Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, the annual year-end TV tradition whose bicoastal Dec. 31 celebration will also include the likes of Drake, Willow Smith, Jennifer Hudson, La Roux, Far East Movement, Fergie, Natasha Bedingfield, and Train.
EW: So you just finished performing the first single from Lullaby, “What the Hell,” for the first time in public—can you tell me about it?
Avril Lavigne: Yes! The song is more pop and uptempo and kind of reminiscent of my old stuff, and the rest of the record is more stripped and raw and a little deeper. So this album is less pop-rock than the previous stuff, but the first single is a more like that.
EW: So is it true that the album has been done for over a year? You sounded pretty frustrated in a letter to fans last month…
Yeah, pretty much. [laughs].
Has that been hard for you, to stand by, or did you just set it aside?
Yes, somewhat. I’ve been really anxious just to get back out there and to sing and to tour, so I know that the fans were all really waiting, being super supportive, and I really appreciate that. You know a lot of people run into complications with their record companies sometimes where they have their vision, but I’ve always had my own vision for my music and I put my foot down, and you know, had to be strong about that, and overall I made the record that I wanted to make, so I’m very happy with it and very excited to finally be putting it out.
Are you tempted, when you have this lagtime, to go back and keep messing with it?
Um …. yeah. I worked on one or two songs, not too many. When you spend over a year on a record like that, you kind of get burnt out on writing songs, so I didn’t really have that much left. Everything that I loved and that I wrote is on this record. I focused a lot over the past year on my clothing line, Abby Dawn, and getting the Avril Lavigne Foundation established and coming out with my second fragrance, Forbidden Rose—the first one was Black Star. So I was really busy with a lot of that stuff as well.
If “What the Hell” is your “pop uptempo” song, what’s the most personal one on this record for you?
The most personal song? I guess I would say “Goodbye”—it’s the most vulnerable song I’ve ever written or recorded, and it inspires the album title.
Were you surprised—well, I’m sure you had to be contacted for permission—but was it fun to hear yourself on the Rihanna song, “Cheers (Drink to That)”?
It was really exciting because “I’m With You” is one of my favorite songs that I’ve done, I always love performing it. And I think Rihanna’s awesome, she has great songs, she’s a really great singer, so yeah I was excited. I think it’s really cool.
Who else have you been listening to in the last couple years since your last album?
I listened to a lot of like, Rat Pack and jazz, and the radio a lot. But I just kind of throw music on when I’m home and it’s in the background. One song I really love is the “Airplanes” song.
With Hayley Williams?
Yeah! That’s a favorite.
He’s just really cool and young. Actually none of the songs we did together are going on this album, but we’re gonna do something with that, stuff I’m just not sure what yet.
So are you ready to spend the next year and a half on the road, and promoting this album?
I’m so excite to do the tour, because I’ve been at home focusing on the studio stuff, the foundation, the clothing line, and I just love to sing and get up on stage and see the fans so I’m ready to get back out there.
Is this the longest you’ve been away from the stage since you started as a teenager?
Yeah, [but] I wouldn’t say it’s a break. Four years ago, the [last] record came out, and for two years I was on the road, so maybe people don’t understand that—a year of promotion, a full year of touring, and then I’ve been home for two years, working on the record and the clothing line and the foundation and the fragrances, so I’ve been really busy but it’s … yes! The first time I’ve ever been home for two years, ever.
What’s the focus of the foundation?
The focus is on sick and disabled children and youth. The reason I started it is that I was doing a lot of work with Make a Wish foundation and other charities, and I just really wanted to do more, so I was really passionate about starting my own foundation, so I’ve spent the last year just getting that started and focusing on what my mission is. It’s a really big project, it’s something that I’m just starting, so I’m really excited to get my fans involved now that I’m going to be back out there again, and have that grow.
Are you prepared to go on tour and see a sea of girls looking back at you wearing your clothes and smelling like your perfume?
Yeah! [Laughs] I wasn’t really on tour when the line came out, so I think that’s pretty cool because I actually wear the clothes. I’ve seen people in Abby Dawn before and gone up to them and been like “Hey, I like your hoodie.”
What should fans expect from the Dick Clark performance?
I perform “What the Hell” and “Girlfriend,” so it’s just my band and I up there rockin’ out, and it’s a fun performance, a lot of jumping around and celebrating.
Well, you’ll actually be able to celebrate New Years Eve by watching yourself on TV…
Yeah, this year! I guess you’re right. [Laughs]
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