This piece originally appeared in Issue 808 of HELLO! Canada magazine.
We're less than a minute into our video call with Avril Lavigne, and already the Canadian superstar is cracking jokes.
"I am wearing pants!" she promises right off the bat, her face lit up with laughter.
Sitting casually with her knees up, she's just realized that the trendy rips in her jeans have made it look like she's not wearing any at all. “
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"I know I've got holes in them, but I am wearing pants," she reassures us once more, still giggling.
Bright and bubbly as ever, the Napanee, Ont., native, 37, is in a great mood – and it seems we've got her upcoming album, Love Sux, to thank for that.
"I've just been having an absolute blast," she says of creating the record.
It's being released under blink-182 drummer Travis Barker's new label, and on it she collaborates with other musicians such as Machine Gun Kelly.
"Working with Travis has been so fun," she says, "and with all the collaborations, it just feels, like, 'Hey, I just got to make a record with all of my friends.'"
Avril and Travis rang in 2022 together when they performed on Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve special with Ryan Seacrest. Photo: © Eric McCandless via Getty Images
It's nice to see the singer so happy, especially considering that 80 per cent of her new songs are about heartbreak.
"I was kind of feeling jaded on love and just felt really burnt out on it," says the professed "hopeless romantic," who has been married twice – to Sum 41 rocker Deryck Whibley (2006 to 2010) and Nickelback frontman Chad Kroeger (2013 to 2015).
Explaining the inspiration behind her album, which represents a welcome return to her pop-punk roots, she continues, "I was, like, 'You know what, I just need to focus on myself for a while.' That didn't last very long though," she admits with a smile.
Avril and Mod Sun made their red carpet debut together at the 2021 MTV Video Music Awards. Photo: © Taylor Hill/FilmMagic
Surely, Avril can appreciate the irony in the fact that she fell for her current partner, rapper Mod Sun, 34, while writing a record titled Love Sux – which, she reveals, "got two [love songs]" in the end.
In addition to her much-awaited new album (a followup to 2019's Head Above Water) and a fulfilling new relationship, Avril is looking forward to celebrating a major milestone this June, when she marks the 20th anniversary of Let Go – the bestselling album by any Canadian artist in the 21st century.
"I just feel really excited for this whole year," she says, revealing that she's working on a "Sk8er Boi" movie to celebrate the occasion. Here, the "Complicated" singer happily reflects on the past two decades.
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HELLO! Canada: We're so excited to be chatting with you about your newest album, Love Sux! What was the inspiration behind it? Avril Lavigne: I had just gone through a breakup and I was, like, "Ah, not another breakup." So that sort of set the tone for the record, and I just started writing about that – you know, love gone wrong and challenges in relationships.
But it's also very lighthearted. There's a sense of humour to it, which I do love to do with my music. Like the lyric to the song is, "Na na na, not another breakup. When I think of you I just want to throw up." [Laughs] I’m not taking myself too seriously.
In addition to this new album, you're celebrating your debut with Let Go this year. It's hard to believe that was two decades ago. It's crazy. It feels like [it's been 20 years], but it also doesn't. I'm just so happy that I'm still here today, making music and touring. And it comes down to the fans. They're still so passionate, and they've been so supportive all these years. They really stuck, and I'm forever grateful to them. It's because of them that I'm here.
What emotions do you feel as you look back on the past 20 years? I just feel really lucky that I get to be doing what I love. It's been a long career – seven albums! And this year will mark seven tours. Getting to travel to places like Japan, Europe, Australia, South America – places I never would have got to without this career – it's been so special and so fun. What a wild ride. I've loved every minute of it.
A very proud Avril holds the Platinum certification for her Let Go album, recognizing 1 million copies sold, in 2002. Photo: © Larry Busacca/WireImage
You've come such a long way since you first hit the scene in 2002 at age 17. What have your years in the music industry taught you about life? I've learned that a lot of hard work pays off and that it's important to have good people around you. I've also learned that it's important for me to listen to myself because I always have a really strong gut feeling. And if I don't listen to myself, I always look back and am, like, "Why? I knew I didn't want to do that." So I've learned to really just listen to that voice inside.
Something really inspiring about your career is that you've always just been your true, authentic self, which is something so many young girls have looked up to you for. Where does that confidence come from? After I made my first album, L.A. Reid – who was the president of the label that signed me, and who discovered me – said to me, "You know what, you have a really cool thing going on with your style." He was like, "Just keep being you."
And that gave me a lot of confidence. Because I definitely dressed like a tomboy with baggy clothes, and was doing my own thing. And so to hear that my style resonated with people, and that people connected with my music immediately, that gave me a lot of confidence.
But the fact that I was getting to be an artist by being weird and by kind of making my own rules, that was really working for me. I just like to be myself and be comfortable, whatever it is that I'm doing. Because then I just feel more like myself. It puts me in a good place.
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Love Sux has the same upbeat, youthful energy of your first album. How do you maintain that? I think by following my heart ... and drinking lots of beer. [Laughs] People are always, like, "What's your secret?" And I'm like, "I don't know. I drink juice and I drink beer." I'm just trying to keep that balance – having a healthy lifestyle but also having fun. Work hard, play hard.
We can't catch up with you without talking about your Canadian roots. What do you miss most about spending time in Canada? The thing I miss the most is my family. Especially now because I couldn't go see them for a long time. When I do go, though, I always get poutine, and ketchup chips and dill pickle chips. [Laughs] That's literally all I eat when I'm there – and Swiss Chalet! Anything I can't get here. And then I gain five pounds. [Smiles] It's awesome.
Avril shows off her love for Canada at the 2007 MuchMusic Video Awards. Photo: © George Pimentel/WireImage
You moved out to Malibu a couple of years ago. How do you like it? What I like about Malibu is it reminds me of Canada a little bit. I was living in the city [of L.A.] for, like, 16 years. So moving to Malibu, it feels like the country. You know, there are campsites and stuff like that so it immediately made me feel Canada vibes.
Overall, how are you feeling about life right now? I'm pretty amped, dude! [Laughs] I'm so excited because I love this record, I feel like its the album I've always wanted to make. I didn't have anybody breathing down my neck; there were no deadlines. I didn't have to prove anything. I genuinely love music and just want to keep rocking. I made this album for me and that's what I've always wanted to do. [Smiles]