Avril Lavigne talks about her new album, (sort of) working with Rihanna, and where she'll be New Years Eve: An EW Q&A

Avril-LavigneImage 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.

Some seventeen months later, Lavigne and Whibley are no more, but the long-delayed Goodbye Lullaby is very much on—with an official release now slated for March 8, 2011.

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.

You have tweeted about working with Alex tha Kid, who’s more known for working with people like T.I., B.o.B, and Nicki Minaj. How has that been different than working with, say, Max Martin?

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]

Follow the Music Mix on Twitter: @EWMusicMix.)

More from from EW.com:
Fergie to have a Rockin’ New Year’s Eve with Ryan Seacrest
Sk8er girl Avril Lavigne turns 26!

Comments (49 total) Add your comment
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  • Casey

    For some reason I’ve always liked her stuff. *ducks*

    • Maureen

      LOL! I’ve always liked her stuff too! :)

  • jthunders

    Does anyone really care about what she’s doing?

    • yanivril_27

      lol i do:))

      • CrossBonezolo

        me too LOL

      • Alecs

        Her fans(A LOT) care.So me too :)

      • SXiPPY

        Yeah, I don’t want to admit it, but I do too. I have to wonder though, who proof reads the bad grammar in these blogs before putting them on the site?

      • Lori Loves

        I love her and her unemployed bf and BBWMarriage was amazing

    • Anthony

      obviously you do, you read the article and commented on it.

    • evan

      i do c:

    • Jim

      I do, I really miss Avril.

    • Kar

      I certainly do. I miss the hell out Avril Lavigne.

  • anya

    Please don’t call her music pop-punk. It is just pop. That’s not an insult, it’s just the truth.

    • Joan

      There’s a video of herself saying she isn’t pop-punk and punk rock… i don’t know why music journalists still keeps calling her that when she and her fans doesn’t…

  • Neil

    Can’t wait to listen to some new music from Avril, one of the better popstars around.

  • Cam

    I’ve been a fan of Avril since the beginning. Her first album ranks up there with my all-time favorite albums. Here 2nd one was pretty good too. The 3rd one kinda sucked lol. I have no trouble admitting that. I miss the old dynamic she had with her and the guys in her band (Evan, Jesse, Matt, and Charlie). Back when everyone knew the guys in the band and they and Avril played off each other live very well. I know things change and she grew up and matured, but I miss that dynamic. I hope this new album gets back to the sound of the first two. That last one I was not a fan of besides maybe 3 songs.

    • hey

      I think so too
      totally i agree with you

  • Phil

    Anyone who works in the emdia and has the unfortunate case to interview Avril knows how big of a b!tch she is to most if not all members of the media, which makes it rather hard for us to them say nice things about her, even after going through a messy divorce. You reap what you sew…

    • Phil

      emdiea = media and them = then, sorry for the typos!

      • Pietra Gunn

        I’ve always thought that you wear what you sew, and you reap what you sow.

      • Phil

        Thanks for catching that, but I guess its my own fault for being a city kid and not a farmer’s boy.

    • J_Brisby

      No way you work in media, with language skills as poor as yours. I’d be surprised if you graduated high school.

      • Phil

        I don’t work for EW, so I don’t have to check my language skills here and be perfect, but if you come here often, you’ll notice that MANY of their articles and blog items have had horrible lagnuage/grammar mistakes. Such as here where Leah asks Avril “Who else have (‘you’ omitted in the above article) been listening…” I mean its been a whole day and that little error has yet to be corrected. I was hired as an employee (never an intern) a month after my 16th bday, AND I have a college degree in broadcast telecommunications & mass media from a very well-resepcted university. Sorry I don’t wear my PROFESSIONAL hat when I come here, but I try my best to pass along info. and not be so stuffy, if EW wants to pay me to be that Phil, we can work something out, otherwise, keep your snide comments thtat bring nothing to the discussion to yourself.

      • Phil

        respect, sorry typo…again, not perfect or claiming to be

    • wale

      avril she has a very great smile she is good she is from the good people:)

  • Anne

    Rihanna & Avril <3

  • CrossBonezolo

    I wished at least one of Alex’ song made it, but well, Goodbye Lullaby will be awesome even without it/them :D

  • RyRyNYC

    Avril Levine is such a f*cking tool. So according to Avril, Rihanna’s a great singer, but years ago Avril used to talk sh!t about Britney and Christina (even stole Christina’s blonde-black skunk streaks hairdo) who are arguably more talented than Rihanna ever will be. For some reason EW (among others) seem to perpetuate this confusion of TALENTED with SUCCESSFUL. The two are rarely interchangeable adjectives, especially into today’s music industry.

  • akri

    looking forward to her new album and I’m 39..not ashamed to say it.I’ve been a fan since “Complicated.” Hope this one is good and succesful for her.. Go Avril! :)

  • PN

    I liked how Avril’s song was looped into Rihanna’s party-driven song Cheers. But I’m just as ready for Avril’s own album. Maybe she wasn’t comfortable with the material and decided to delay it, but I’m sure she’s excited to release it in March. Looking forward to hearing how the rough mix of the new song sounds like on the Dick Clark New Year’s special.

  • ditto

    Same here Akri. What you said, including my age. We’re not alone. At least Avril doesn’t go out in public in her underwear or wear meat. She’s normal. She’s not a goddamn freak. I like that in a rock star. She looked fricken GORGEOUS in the Alice video. I know a lot of people here in Canada hate her, but I don’t care. She makes me proud to be a Canuck. I have all her albums. Looking forward to he next. It’s about damn time!

  • hehehe

    adoree avril! i can’t waiiiit

  • hehehe

    adoreeeeee avri!!! i can’t wait

  • hehehe

    AVRIL
    AVRIL

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