With her ‘Head Above Water,’ Avril Lavigne heads to Pittsburgh still a bit ‘Complicated’
Following a five-year break, Avril Lavigne is back on tour, taking her sixth studio album, “Head Above Water,” out on the road, including a planned Pittsburgh stop.
Lavigne, 35, first drew attention in 2002 while a teenager with the hit singles and videos “Complicated” and “Sk8er Boi” from the album “Let Go.”
Ball cap on backward, liner rimming her eyes, wearing baggy clothes and a skinny tie, Lavigne was the anti-video vixen featured in many MTV videos at the time.
She came across as sassy, challenging, possessed of a lot of ‘tude.
Lavigne may be older, more resilient, but the sass and the attitude remain, maybe with a little more self-awareness and self-protection.
She will take the Roxian Theater stage in McKees Rocks on Oct. 8, part of her 15-date, North American tour.
Not so complicated
The video for her current single, “I Fell in Love With The Devil,” is seductive, mysterious and beautiful — yet unsettling — to watch, as she grapples with an irresistible but toxic lover.
It’s a song she wrote and helped produce, and there’s a clear message being delivered.
“I did make the decision to walk away from someone who is not the right person. It’s about knowing your worth, keeping your eyes open, being careful about who comes into your life,” Lavigne says in a telephone interview.
“I love this music video so much. It’s one of my favorite ones I’ve ever made. … It’s a huge passion treatment for me,” she says.
Lavigne taps into some of her earlier music’s angst, frustration, and zero toleration for fools in the fun (I Ain’t No) “Dumb Blonde,” featuring another tough girl, Nicki Minaj.
“It’s taking a stand, not letting a man negate or talk down to you and says it’s also OK to be a woman and be strong and have opinions and be tough,” Lavigne says.
“Step back, your time is up, sit down, I’m takin’ the lead” should make her meaning clear.
Back on her feet — and on stage
The title track, Lavigne says, reflects her fight back to health after being diagnosed with Lyme disease in 2014, and being bed-bound with exhaustion.
“‘Head Above Water’” is about my health journey, when I was recovering. It was the first song I wrote. I was taking time off and going through treatment and it just came to me. … I thought other people could relate if they were going through a struggle in their life,” she says.
Begun before she was diagnosed, the foundation supports people with serious illness or disabilities. It has expanded to include those suffering from Lyme disease through a partnership with Global Lyme Alliance, on whose board Lavigne serves.
Programs and grants provide prevention resources, fund treatment and accelerate research, according to the foundation’s website.
She’s learned a lot, she says, about music therapy through starting the foundation.
“It’s true, creativity is good for the body and mind,” she says.
Lavigne is careful to follow an organic, gluten-free diet and to get plenty of sleep and exercise.
“I try to take care of myself. I find music to be really healing for me. When I’m singing and being creative and working, I just go to this other place,” she says.
Expect to see some of her earlier pop princess swagger in her performance.
“You’ll see and hear a lot of the new album. I will definitely bring back the old favorites. I feel like the tour is going to be this cool journey, in a way, from my past to who I am now.”
“I feel strong. I feel good. I have my life back,” she says.
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .