Ever since she broke on to the scene nearly 20 years ago, life for Avril Lavigne has been, well, complicated.
Lavigne went from teenage pop-punk sensation to bonafide pop star to shifting away from the bright lights of Hollywood to focus on herself. She appeared in movies, launched a clothing line, formed a charity and got sampled in a massive Rihanna song. She dated celebrities, married rock stars and divorced them just as quickly. Hell, she even dealt with ridiculous conspiracy theories that the real her was dead and she was a body double.
But now more than ever, Lavigne’s “just ready to rock the fuck out” — and on Love Sux (out now on Elektra), she does exactly that.
Lavigne’s seventh studio album features a who’s who of multiple decades of pop punkers. Helmed by the combo of Goldfinger frontman and producer extraordinaire John Feldmann and her current paramour and collaborator, Mod Sun, Love Sux is Lavigne’s return to her roots for a new generation. With assistance coming from names ranging from Mark Hoppus and Travis Barker to Blackbear and Machine Gun Kelly, the 12-song album spans the bridge between those who grew up with Let Go and Under My Skin when they were current and those who have only been present for pop punk’s (Barker-led) revival.
SPIN spoke with Lavigne ahead of the release of Love Sux to chat about the bubbly pop punk princess’s albums old and new.
SPIN: Seeing as Love Sux is a bit of a return to rock for you, how did it feel to jump back into the genre after dabbling more on the adult pop side of things on previous albums?
Avril Lavigne: Everybody loves rock music, because there’s just a type of angst and energy in it. To come back to a more guitar-driven rock record just felt really good, because that’s the kind of music I fell in love with. For my first albums, I really wanted guitar-driven music, because that was the vibe I was connected to when I was developing my sound. I was doing a lot of high-energy concerts and shows back then, and when I made this record, I was thinking about the live shows being like that again. These songs are so meant for being played live on stage. There’s tons of energy in these songs. It’s uptempo rock and roll all the way through. After coming off of an album like Head Above Water that was more balanced and mellowed out, it was time to rock the fuck out again. You know, you go through different periods in your life, and this album is called Love Sux, because that’s how I felt when I started making this album — and it’s kind of me poking fun at myself.
A lot of folks see you as one of the artists bridging the gap between 2000s pop punk and today. How does that feel to be kind of in the middle of these two generations of artists?
Well, it’s not something that you picture when you first start making music. It’s really cool and unexpected, and it’s kind of crazy to think about. For instance, WILLOW was a huge fan of The Best Damn Thing, and she called me and told me all about it. She asked me to be on her album, so I sang with her. And it’s cool, because she listened to me growing up, and I listened to Blink-182 growing up, and now I’m working with them. I know that my music has transcended generations and these younger artists see me as an influence, and it’s beyond what 17-year-old me could have imagined.
How does it feel to see this new generation of kids who are really into pop punk again?
I’m super stoked on it. I love it. I love that people are enjoying and loving and appreciating rock music with guitars again. The younger generation is also discovering these older bands that have been around for a while too, and it’s great to see people appreciate the genre more now for sure. It’s really exciting.
What was it like to see people’s reactions to the singles you released ahead of Love Sux, particularly considering that a lot of people are still kind of dying to see live music again?
It’s been crazy, because I see everyone’s energy and feel how everyone receives everything, and it seems like people are really excited about it. A lot of people in my life — whether it’s friends and family or just people that I run into — have been loving the new stuff, and it’s really exciting, because I was really anxious to get it out into the world. I’ve been playing it for my friends and family for like a year now, and now it’s finally coming out.
Since we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of your debut album and the 15th of The Best Damn Thing, is there anything that stands out to you about your career to this point?
Working on a seventh album and to have a 20th anniversary at the same time is wild. I just feel really blessed to have such a supportive fanbase that’s as engaged as they are and still remain super passionate. There are people in Brazil, Europe, and everywhere, and I’m just really lucky to be here making music and to be able to go on tour because of them. I really wanted a long career when I was young. I wanted to be doing this my whole life. I was born loving music. I started writing songs really early on as a kid, and I can’t believe that I’m so lucky that I get to do this for a living. I think every day about how cool of an opportunity this is and how rare and unique and special it is, and I just feel really grateful. I love looking back at my older albums, and I think that’s what’s great about touring. I get to handpick my favorite songs from each album, and I get to play old and new songs live at pretty much every show.
You’ve never really taken a long break between albums — seven albums in 20 years is a pretty solid rate. What keeps you going and writing new material two decades into your career?
I’m just a songwriter, and I just write about my life. It’s really just how I live my life. I go through stuff and I write about it. I go through different periods and different phases. It’s natural to me. I don’t really think I could turn it off. It’s a part of who I am. I’ve just really loved writing music ever since I was a kid, even before I knew this was anything I actually could do. I was making rhymes and writing little songs, and my dad had a guitar in the house, so I just figured out a couple chords and started writing. If I had an day off at my house right now, I’d be lounging in bed with a lyric book and an acoustic guitar, I swear that if you saw me this weekend, that’s what I was doing. I’ll write music instead of watching a movie or something if I’m alone. That’s how I digest my life.
At this point, you’ve got your new album, your clothing line, and so many other endeavors. What’s even left for you to explore in the future?
Well, I’m revamping my clothing line right now. But in my personal life, I love cooking and painting, and both of those are big parts of who I am. I think it’d be cool to do makeup stuff too, since I’m basically my own makeup artist now and I’m quite into stage makeup and all that. I still write for other people here and there too, and I think a little bit of writing for somebody else is fun for me. I’m also turning “Sk8er Boi” into a movie, so that’s gonna be a huge project for me. I’m making a documentary, and I should probably do a book. But for now, I’m just really happy to be here. I’m having tons of fun and just ready to rock the fuck out.