Tuesday (May 25) is a big day for Avril Lavigne. Not only does the date mark the release of the pop star’s second album, Under My Skin, but it’s also the day that Avril makes her debut as a full-grown woman. When Lavigne’s debut, Let Go, came out two years ago, she was 17 – and as most critics who interviewed her at the time will tell you, not a particularly mature 17 at that. Now she’s a hearty 19, has traveled the world, dated a few boys, hung out with rock stars and lives in her own place in downtown Toronto. Avril Lavigne is an adult now and she’s ready to sing about it.
While Avril’s sophisticated new ways are apparent in her dress code (the ties have made way for gothy skirts and bustiers) and her more slightly refined public appearances, it isn’t until the singer talks about her music that she really begins to seem wise beyond her years.
“I was very in control on the first record, but on this record I was like, ‘OK. I know more of who I am and where I want to go,'” she says. “And I’ve always had this really dark side to me and I’m really sensitive and emotional and I’ve done a lot of growing up. So this record’s just so cool. I picked everyone I worked with myself and interviewed different producers and stuff. I’m really excited about it because it’s sooo me. Every song is really, really personal to me.”
Rather than let her label people lead her around, Lavigne took the reigns on the project by secretly writing with some of her favourite artists (Chantal Kreviazuk, Our Lady Peace’s Raine Maida, ex-Evanescence guitarist Ben Moody, Marvelous 3’s Butch Walker and Lavigne’s own guitarist, Evan Tauberfeld). Lavigne co-wrote every song on the album, often taking over the duties for lyrics and melody completely on her own. While some artists in Lavigne’s position can’t help writing songs that focus on their own rise to fame and fortune since their schedules don’t permit much more to go on in their lives, there are no poor little rich girl songs on Under My Skin. Shockingly normal for a girl who’s sold so many records, Lavigne’s new songs deal with complex, but very typical emotions.
“[Normal girls] should be able to [relate to the album] because I just wrote about things that I went through and it didn’t really have anything to do with my career,” Lavigne says. “It was my emotions and my feelings. There’s a song that I wrote when my grandfather passed away. People can relate to that – someone they lost. Then there are songs about a relationship not working out. ‘Don’t Tell Me’ is about being strong and not letting a guy try to make you do something that you don’t want to do. So, everything I write about is about me going through the experiences that I’ve had.”
In fact, Lavigne is so level-headed that she suggests that her superstardom wouldn’t get in the way of a normal life any more than my job as a writer would. While she won’t admit to taking any special pains to ensure a regular life, it’s obvious that she steers clear of any Britney/Christina-style shenanigans. Princess-like histrionics just aren’t part of her world.
“The last several months I was in L.A. living with Chantal,” she says. “I was working on the record, but I was also living a totally normal life. Like meeting friends and going out to clubs, and hanging out and driving, and going to Venice Beach and doing stuff. Now I’m going to be really busy again, so I won’t be doing all of that. There’s still stuff like, when I have a weekend off, my friends come to see me. Now I live in Toronto and I have a whole bunch of friends here, so when I come home, I go out with them. I mean, I do normal stuff.”