A flashback to Canadian mega-star Avril Lavigne and her first-ever magazine cover.
Our latest Canadian export is making us proud. At the MTV Awards, Avril decided to use a safety pin to attach a Canadian flag to the bottom of her signature loose tie because she thought it was cool. And while receiving the coveted Moon-man for Best New Artist in a Video she did not forget Canada’s own MuchMusic for playing her videos and promoting her here at home. “They totally supported me. I really appreciate everything that they’ve done,” she says.
Armed with a love for music, determination and belief in herself, this gutsy 17-year-old decided to leave Canada and move to New York City and then Los Angeles in hopes of making it big. Her jump from small town Napanee, Ontario to New York was over a year ago when Avril took off on her own to hone her writing skills and bring together her first album. “It was like WEIRD!” she says, of the Big Apple, “I was like, look at all the people, all the buildings, it’s so busy. But I didn’t get to know [New York] city that well.” Even with the thrill of new sights and sounds, when on the road in the US, or on promotional tours for her debut album Let Go, Avril misses Canada, especially Toronto, which she considers home.
A big fan of Canadian bands, naming Treble Charger, Sum 41 and the Matthew Good Band as favourites, and with her second hit, ”Sk8er Boi,” on the chart, Avril returned home briefly to appear in Treble Charger’s video, “Hundred Million” along with Swollen Members, Sum 41 and Gob. Being a true diplomat, as all good Canadians are, she gives props to great bands south of the border and says one of her personal faves is the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, Johnny Reznick, who she met a while ago. “It was a quick hello. I don’t think he knew who I was, but I definitely knew who he was,” she says.
Like our other notable igloo-dwelling, eh saying Northerners like Shania, Celine, Nelly Furtado and Nickelback, recognition south of the border or overseas should no longer be a problem for Avril. At the MTV Awards, big names like Justin Timberlake and Nelly made it a point to say hello. At a bash thrown by P.Diddy later that night, he got up and announced, “Guess who’s in the house? Avril Lavigne’s in the house!” Still, she has some catching up to do when it comes to realizing how famous she is. “I just started realizing that [fame] the other day…I lied to myself and said, “No, I’m not that famous,” and then I go to the music awards and it’s craaazy,” she says.
Unfortunately, this new found fame means a curb on her personal time and freedom. An avid hockey player, Avril says she now misses playing the oh-so-Canadian sport she often indulged in before promotional tours became a part of her life. “We have no sticks on the road so I don’t do anything anymore. I’m at airports everyday on the promo tour,” she says, “It’s tiring and I have to recoup.” She also realizes she can no longer partake in Canada’s other national pastime: lounging around malls and hanging out with friends. “I keep telling myself I’ll be okay, and it’s a bit frustrating. It’s like I sport a funky wig and glasses and I can run in and get stuff, but then the whole store fills up and it’s like…you have no privacy,” she says.
She understands fame comes at a price but is willing to compromise for the sake of her fans. “I don’t mind being so huge. All I want is people to hear my music…it has its ups and downs,” she says. While on Queen Street in Toronto she didn’t mind being approached by fans—who would never swarm, attack, grope or ravage a celebrity—and patiently waited to sign autographs as they grappled for pen and paper. Her fans are her main motivation she says, “They’re the ones that make everything worth it.” She was even upset that she had to cancel some appearances when she came down with the flu. “I feel bad for the fans who wanted to see me,” she says glumly.
For Avril, it has been a personal, sometimes frustrating journey from her school days when she was singled out for being different. Lashing out, she expressed her thoughts on paper and says, “I wrote a song about it and put it to a story. “Sk8er Boi” is made from stuff that I went through in high school, when people looked down on me.” Now, confidently perched atop the charts, Avril remains modestly Canadian and says, “I’m just a 17-yearold who likes to write songs, play music and rock out.”