Avril Lavigne's life is still complicated.
At the ripe age of 27, the Canadian singer-guitarist is all grown up. She's a music-biz vet who's sold millions of albums over the past decade. She's divorced from Sum 41 rocker Deryck Whibley -- an experience that fueled the sombre tone of her fourth CD Goodbye Lullaby. And she's a businesswoman whose ventures include fragrances and a clothing line. But the Ontario pop-rocker -- who doesn't seem to have aged a day since exploding onto the radar with 2002's Let Go -- insists she still connects with the girl who sang Sk8er Boi in a wifebeater and tie.
"I absolutely still connect with my older songs," insists Lavigne. "They're still so close to me. They're a part of me. Yes, I've grown up a lot and changed a lot. On each album, I've progressed. And I have different sides to me. So my music is diverse. There are different moods, different tones, different styles and vibes. But it's all my music. And I still connect with all of it."
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Beginning Oct. 1, Lavigne will connect with Canadian fans when her Black Star tour kicks off a 16-date run from Victoria to Montreal.
From a stop in Paris, Lavigne called up to talk about baguettes, being an old soul and bucking trends.
You've been doing a lot of travelling lately. Do you still enjoy it? A lot of artists find it tiresome.
I'm actually enjoying travelling more than I ever have before. I think now that I'm older, I view it differently. Today I'm in Paris, and I'm like, 'Let's go eat some baguettes. Let's go have some pommes frites.' I have a different appreciation for it. I try to take advantage of being in certain cities, and I bring my friends out with me now. It's important to have a balance. Before it was just work, work, work. And I was so young that maybe I didn't understand how awesome it was to travel internationally. So yeah, it's actually better now.
You've lived in L.A. for years. What does touring Canada mean to you?
Well, Canada's still home for me. It'll always be home. And when I come to tour in Canada, it's different. My family comes out to the shows. My friends from high school come out. My old neighbours. And there's everything I grew up with in Canada -- certain foods, the weather, everything like that. It's always special and a lot of fun and a good time. It's just nice to come back.
You've had a tumultuous time the last few years. Is the stage a comfort zone for you?
Music is a great escape in all sorts of different ways. When I walk out on stage and I'm singing songs and people are having fun, I'm having fun. When I'm writing my songs, I'm expressing myself and it's very healthy for me as an artist and as a sensitive, emotional person. To me, it's just good no matter what.
You've changed a lot in the past decade. How do you feel when you listen to your old songs and videos?
It's interesting hearing some of my old recordings. I can hear the difference in my voice and my performance level. And looking at the older music videos, it is absolutely like looking back at an old photo album. It's cool to see myself. I was so young.
Do you feel now that maybe you were too young? Do you wish in hindsight you'd had a more normal teenage life?
I had such a normal life -- a textbook normal life. I grew up in a very normal home. I went to school, played sports, played hockey, the whole Canadian thing. This all happened to me when I was 16. So I was young, but I think I was an older soul. I was very independent, always. So I was ready to take all that on at a young age. I don't feel like I missed out on anything. And the total experience has brought so much to me that I never would have had otherwise.
Goodbye Lullaby is about some big changes in your life. Are those more difficult songs to perform?
There are a couple. The song Goodbye, for instance, is the most vulnerable song I've ever written in my career. I've never done it live. It's really emotional. It was really hard to perform in the studio. If you listen to it, you can kind of get that vibe out of it. There are a couple of songs on this album that are really real and honest. I allowed myself to be vulnerable and not hold back. That's what this album kind of stands for. But because this is a new album, I only perform about half the songs live anyway. And the songs that I chose off this one were the ones that kind of fit into the show: The singles and the fun ones.
This album seemed to throw some people for a loop, as if they didn't want you to change. How does that make you feel as an artist?
Well, I live my life for myself. I definitely don't live my life trying to please other people. That would be my message to my fans: Be who you are. Know who you are. Go after your dreams. Don't try to please anybody but yourself, because you won't be happy. That's my motto. And when it comes to making music, artistically I'm going to do what I need to do. This record is a more song-driven, personal and introspective record. It's a record I'm really proud of. But the trend on radio is dance, pop, urban. I didn't make that kind of record. I didn't want to keep making the same record over and over. I wanted to stretch. I set goals and pushed myself. And I had a couple of challenges with my record company. But you've gotta do things for yourself in order to be happy.
Canadian Tour Dates:
Oct. 1 | Victoria | Save On Foods MC
Oct. 3 | Vancouver | Rogers Arena
Oct. 5 | Prince George | CN Centre
Oct. 6 | Kamloops | Interior Savings Centre
Oct. 8 | Kelowna | Prospera Place
Oct. 11 | Edmonton | Rexall Place
Oct. 12 | Calgary | Scotiabank Saddledome
Oct. 13 | Regina | Brandt Centre
Oct. 14 | Winnipeg | MTS Centre
Oct. 16 | Sudbury | Sudbury Arena
Oct. 17 | Ottawa | Scotiabank Place
Oct. 19 | Moncton | Coliseum
Oct. 20 | Halifax | Metro Centre
Oct. 22 | London | John Labatt Centre
Oct. 24 | Toronto | Air Canada Centre
Oct. 25 | Montreal | Centre Bell