Avril Lavigne had to fight throughout her career to make the music she wanted to
Twenty years ago, Avril Lavigne began a legacy with her debut album, Let Go. Its release saw her dominate the pop-punk landscape on a global scale, being one of few women to do so successfully. But it also ignited a journey that required strength and resolve to execute her vision. Along the way, her abilities were questioned regularly, and writing the music she wanted to became a challenge. It took instances such as bringing her own clothing to a photo shoot because the tops on the rack didn’t suit her and defending her teenage rage to her parents to maintain that vision.
Ultimately, it’s Lavigne’s steadfast determination that paved a path forward for new artists such as Rico Nasty.
“You created a standard,” Nasty says to Lavigne from a Los Angeles warehouse. “You created a realm for us to be in. Back when you were coming up, it was like, ‘Well, this is what the fuck is going on.’ But now you’re on the fucking mood board. You’re who people want to dress like.”
Leading off Alternative Press’ Modern Icons Issue, which features a series of conversations between musical luminaries and the artists they influenced, Nasty and Lavigne connected for the first time. Throughout their conversation, the two musicians spoke candidly about their respective upbringings and why music matters more than anything. From musical processes to first jobs, Nasty and Lavigne discovered commonalities and differences, qualities that define them and their artistry. For Nasty and Lavigne, it’s a true meeting of the new school and the old school — one that spotlights alternative music’s bright future.
Read an excerpt of their conversation below, moderated by Maria Sherman.
RICO NASTY: I’m in that phase in my life right now where so many people say that I’m different that it makes me feel different. What’s so different? I’m regular. Did you ever feel the pressure of trying to tone yourself down?
AVRIL LAVIGNE: I’ve always been pretty good about keeping it real, and I’ve always been pretty unapologetic about it. It’s a different time now. But yeah, for sure. There were times at photo shoots [where] they’d want me to wear girly clothes, and I was super tomboy. When I came out with my first album, I was fighting with people. I brought a book bag, and I’d pull out my clothes. They’re like, “You can’t wear your clothes. You have to wear what’s on the rack.” It’s a pink blouse. I’m not fucking wearing that shit! They would be like, “Do you want to be on the cover or not?” I would have to fight a lot.
NASTY: You doing that has made room for girls right now to be able to do their own thing. You created a standard. You created a realm for us to be in. Back when you were coming up, it was like, “Well, this is what the fuck is going on.” But now you’re on the fucking mood board. You’re who people want to dress like. You created legendary shit. Sticking up for yourself is a key thing that people need to hear. Because it’s not just the music telling people to fuck off — it’s also the way that you handle your legacy. You didn’t let nobody tell you differently. That is some iconic ass shit.
LAVIGNE: I was tough. Honestly, a lot of people, when they meet me, [they] think I’m going to be a bitch. I’m actually really nice. They’re always like, “Oh, my God, you’re totally not what I was expecting.” People think I’m, like, whatever. I was weird, tough and strong. You [had to] stand up for yourself. You might come across as a bitch, but I think being a bitch is a really good thing. I’m totally a fucking bitch, and that’s a good thing. It means that you’re not a doormat. You’re not a pushover, and you speak your mind.
And like you said, yeah, I’m stubborn and strong-willed and strong-minded, and if I feel a certain way, I stick to it. I’m constantly fighting. I’ve been fighting since day one to write my own songs. I had to fight my whole career to write the type of music I wanted to write. Sometimes labels would give me pushback and didn’t understand my vision. I had to always fight, and fight on each album to keep going in the musical direction I wanted to go, even if they’re trying to sway me another way.
NASTY: You didn’t do all that fighting for nothing. It’s been put to good use, all the things that you’ve done to stand up for yourself. You make it OK for people to do what they want to do in their own way. Whether it was music or the way that you look, you remained yourself through it all. I’m just really happy that I get to talk to someone like you.
Also in Issue #404:
Jacoby Shaddix x Remington Leith: Over a decades-spanning career, Papa Roach’s Jacoby Shaddix has become one of the most formidible frontmen in hard rock. Needless to say, Palaye Royale vocalist Remington Leith has been taking notes.
Alice Glass x carolesdaughter: Just in time for the release of debut solo record, PREY//IV, Alice Glass connects with carolesdaughter, an artist who shares her perseverance and rejection of status quo.
Greg Puciato x Rou Reynolds: Greg Puciato made a lasting effect on heavy music with Dillinger Escape Plan. Naturally, Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari took his band’s boundless experimentation and riotous stage presence to heart.
Travie McCoy x Jason Aalon Butler: With his second, and much-awaited, solo album due out this year, Travie McCoy links up with FEVER 333 frontman Jason Aalon Butler to discuss the promise of a future that looks more like them.
Dani Miller from Surfbort op-ed: With March 8 marking International Women’s Day, Surfbort vocalist Dani Miller captures her experiences with gender bias in the music industry and shows how we can all learn to lift each other up.
Against Me! oral history: This month, Against Me!’s debut album, …Reinventing Axl Rose, turns 20. In honor of this impressive milestone, Laura Jane Grace looks back on the highs and lows of her band, two decades in the making.
Check out everything in the full issue here!