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Just where is the next stop on this tour?

Special to The Times

HO-HUM. Another city, another sold-out concert date for Avril Lavigne. Not that the punky pop star could tell you exactly where the next arena full of adoring fans will be.

“Oh, I’m headed to who knows where,” she says by phone from her tour bus, pausing to consult her road manager to learn she is bound for Kansas City, Mo. “It’s 35 dates in two months. But I like these summer tours. Last night, I was dripping with sweat onstage! It’s awesome.”

For the record:

12:00 AM, Aug. 12, 2005 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday August 12, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 64 words Type of Material: Correction
Lavigne’s sales --An article in Thursday’s Calendar Weekend section about rock singer Avril Lavigne said her 2002 debut album, “Let Go,” was the bestselling album of that year, and her 2004 follow-up, “Under My Skin,” had outsold it. In fact, “Let Go” was ranked third in 2002 sales, and “Under My Skin” has sold 2.7 million copies domestically, which is less than “Let Go.”

Yes, Avril Lavigne can still use the word “awesome.” She’s only 20, after all, although it seems as if she’s been around for a while now. Lots of nattering nabobs thought that Lavigne would go the way of Furby dolls and Pokemon trading cards when her debut album, “Let Go,” sold more copies than any other album in 2002. But her 2004 follow-up, “Under My Skin,” outsold it (7 million copies and counting).

Lavigne hasn’t run into the inevitable roadblock that stops most teen acts in their tracks: the maturation of the very young fan base that bought the records to begin with. Lavigne attracts a fairly diverse demographic, but the secret is in the special sauce: Lavigne’s two albums, hook-laden and top-heavy with bittersweet love songs, are just that good. Parental escorts don’t have to endure Lavigne’s shows through gritted teeth.

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“In America, I get a lot of younger kids, but there’s teens and adults too” says Lavigne. “In Europe, for some reason, I see a lot more males in the audience. In Japan, I don’t even notice any kids, partially because they’re a lot more strict about fan behavior over there.”

Still, there are telling signs that the audience hasn’t been weaned off the MTV pacifier just yet. When Lavigne tossed in a cover of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” during a recent show, the crowd greeted the song with only mild enthusiasm. Kurt who?

LAVIGNE wants to be careful about the burnout factor, for herself and her fans. She’s only jotted a few lyrics for the next record while on the road; she wants to take her time, make sure that she’s bringing something fresh to the table instead of a retread of the first two records.

“I see people that have been around for a while, and I can really appreciate their staying power,” she says. “Look at Green Day. They waited five years to come out with a record, and it’s a smash hit. Or Madonna, who’s a mother now but still a vital artist. I really respect that ability to sustain a career over a long period of time.”

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Which is why Lavigne will take a nice break when this tour ends, head back to her hometown of Toronto and hang out with friends and family for a while. There’s also the small matter of marriage; Lavigne recently confirmed her engagement to Sum 41 lead singer Deryck Whibley, 25, though she refuses to talk about it. “I don’t like to talk about my personal life,” she says. “If you talk about it, then you’re giving the media permission to talk about it.”

A new record will be forthcoming, but who knows when. “I want to try and mix it up a little this time,” she says, although frequent collaborator Butch Walker, opening for her on this tour, probably will be on board.

“I want to make sure that I do it right,” she says. “There’s no rush. I’m in a pretty good situation, particularly with my overseas fan base, which tends to keep you forever.”

Lavigne concedes she is a little weary of the limelight. She wants to get off the treadmill for a minute and enjoy the fruits of her success.

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“You can’t put your career before your life; it’s too precious,” she says. “I don’t want to be consumed with my career. I have to take a little time for myself.”

Before then, however, there’s still quite a bit of rocking to do. A multi-platinum artist’s work, it seems, is never done.

Marc Weingarten can be reached at weekend@latimes.com.

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Avril Lavigne

Where: Greek Theatre, 2700 N. Vermont Canyon Road, L.A.

When: 7 p.m. today and Friday

Price: $40.50 and $51

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Contact: (323) 665-1927


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