By SHANNON BREEN
Canadian pop rocker Avril Lavigne first hit the charts in 2002 at the tender age of 17 with her hit Complicated. Now she's 23, and life has become exactly what that title suggests. Lavigne, 23, performs Saturday at Tampa's Ford Amphitheatre. She spoke to the St. Petersburg Times recently about straight talking, bad reviews and her ongoing feud with gossip columnist Perez Hilton.
How's the tour going?
Tour is really fun. I'm having a good time and the fans have been awesome.
When do you think it's essential to speak your mind?
Always . . . it's important to know what you want and to do what you want and get what you want. If you're in a situation, whatever it is, if you feel strongly about something, you should definitely speak up. I always do.
Do you ever get alone time?
I'm the kind of person who doesn't really like being alone. I always like go out and hang out. I'm very social. I like to always be doing things.
Perez Hilton said you called him so he'd stop saying bad things about you. Is that true?
Yeah, I called him and I was like, 'You don't know who I am, why would you say all these things about me? It's very hurtful … You don't have to like my music, I'm not asking you to like me, but would you lay off, bro?' And that's all I said. … Obviously, it didn't do s---.
Do you read your own concert reviews?
No, not after I read one (that was negative) and I had a really great show. I was like f--- that. I'm not reading that s--- anymore. The thing about reviews that's kind of funny is like you're going to the concert to judge it. That's not the right mentality to be in. … You're going to a concert to have a good time and to join the music and to go as a fan. … (My shows are) not for the reviewer who doesn't like my music anyway, so I think that a lot of (reviews) are unfair. I don't think anyone really reads them anyway.
Some of the concert venues are reportedly having trouble filling seats for your show. Why do you think that is?
I've done about 23 shows in five weeks and I've sold 170,000 tickets. Trust me, I'm on top of that stuff … Of course you're gonna have a show that doesn't sell out. Especially when they put me in a 20,000-seater and I'm only selling 10,000 tickets . . . Venues are so big. 'Cause it's the one available or whatever.
You have a reputation for being difficult. Why do you think that is?
I don't know. It's just how it's been for me my entire career and, yes, it is frustrating. And every time I talk to people and meet people, they're like, 'Oh my God, you're so nice, I thought you were gonna bite my head off.' I think it's because of how I talk and how I'm just like normal and honest and also think it's because I'm not this crazy, like, walk down the red carpet with a big a-- bright smile kind of person. I'm just chill. I'm mellow, and some people read that the wrong way.
Shannon Breen can be reached at email@example.com