Avril Lavigne’s Head is Finally Above Water | LA Weekly Sept 12, 2019 3:45:55 GMT BrightEyes and delmatico like this
Post by Jimmyzz on Sept 12, 2019 3:45:55 GMT
Avril Lavigne’s Head is Finally Above Water
By Brett Callwood | September 11, 2019
In 2014, a year after the release of her self-titled fifth album, Canadian songstress Avril Lavigne was diagnosed with Lyme disease. Her life was put on hold as she embarked on a terrifying battle for her health. Naturally, so was her career.
There’s no doubt that the momentum she had been building was forced to a stop. After three albums of the quirky, bouncy skater-punk and post-grunge that saw her build a huge international fanbase, she began the new decade with the pop-rock Goodbye Lullaby in 2011 and followed that with the ultimately pop Avril Lavigne in 2013. The title suggests a reinvention, or at least an evolution. This was a mature Lavigne, the Hot Topic-esque clothes put away.
Then along came the Lyme disease that fucked it all up. It was a relief, then, when the announcement came that she was releasing a new album, Head Above Water, in February and a tour would follow. She’s at the Greek this week.
“I’m really excited to be getting back up on stage,” Lavigne tells us over the phone. “It’s been about five years because I obviously had to take a few years off with the whole health thing. So it’s very meaningful and I think it will be an emotional and powerful experience for me, getting back out on stage and on tour, having some time away and then stepping back into writing and making music, and now bringing these songs live — it’s been me re-falling in love with music all over again and I’m so grateful on so many levels. To be here today, still making music, and to be powering through, it means a lot.”
She’s not being dramatic either — she genuinely was at a point where she didn’t think she’d ever be able to work again, and there was a harrowing night when she thought she wouldn’t make it.
“Slowly in bed, I started writing these songs,” she says. “‘Head Above Water’ — those lyrics came to me when I was in bed, the night I thought I was going to die. It showed me how music is still alive in me and it lives in my soul. It’s not even something I can control. So this album obviously took three years to make — a really long time. I’m just grateful to be making music today and to have come out of that, and still have this opportunity. I’m thankful to the fans for being so supportive over all the years and during that process that I went through.”
It’s been six months since Head Above Water dropped and, in this era of instant gratification, her fans could easily have moved on. Rather, it’s performed very well, reaching number 13 on the Billboard album charts (number one on the independent charts), number 10 on the U.K. album charts (again, number one on the independent charts), and so on.
“With this album, I didn’t hold back at all,” she says. “It’s very vulnerable and open, and I felt like I wanted to make music from a very real place and talk about everything I’m going through. This album is very much about the vocal performance, the emotion and the lyrics. The other song I’m very passionate about is ‘I Fell in Love with the Devil’ — it’s very different, but it’s cool because we have this fire/water theme going on which also ties into the tour. You have to walk away from somebody and take a stand. That’s coming off my treatment where I’m like, ‘OK, I’m driving a hearse and in the back there’s a coffin and I’m in the coffin. I’m going down, metaphorically, one road and then at the end of the video I decide to bust myself out of the coffin and take a stand for myself’.”
There’s another song on the new album called “Dumb Blonde” (featuring Nicki Minaj), which is a timely female empowerment anthem. After all, while Lavigne was recuperating the world has pretty much gone to shit.
“I was in a situation where I was being belittled, and spoken down to and called a dumb blonde,” she says. “A guy was intimidated by my independence, and my strength as a woman. I didn’t let that affect me — it wasn’t this big crazy thing I went through. But I decided to turn this into a song that’s an anthem for women to say, ‘It’s OK to be a woman, and be strong and powerful. It’s not OK for somebody to try to put you on the bench and tell you to stop speaking because you’re a girl.’ But I also like to think in general, whether it’s male- or female-related, it’s important for anyone to be able to express themselves, and be strong and powerful, and be who they are.”
Speaking to Lavigne, the gratitude she feels to be doing this stuff again is clear. Many musicians complain about having to do interviews, but Lavigne is nothing but gracious. She’s been through something shitty, and now she’s determined to enjoy her life. Hey, she’s even happy to let that pop-punk princess from the 2000s out to play.
“I have a side of me that still loves to skateboard, dirtbike, get tattooed, drink beer, barbecue,” she says. “There’s a side of me that’s like that, absolutely. I love to play electric guitars. She’s still there, and you’ll still see her during these concerts. Literally a few weeks ago, we were dirtbiking and I was getting the rest of my sleeve done. It’s been a good summer.”
We’ll see Lavigne’s different sides at the Greek this week as she performs a career-spanning set.
“I have this fire/water theme and there are powerful moments,” she says. “What I just went through and what I overcame, something that’s very important and ‘now’ — something I’m very proud of. And then hits from the last 17 years. It’s fun, and plays with different emotions. There’s a lot to it. I feel like my audience are music people. That’s what’s amazing about my fans. They’re really music lovers.”
Avril Lavigne plays with Jagwar Twin at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 18 at the Greek Theatre.