Partying through personal tragedies

Five questions with rapper Mickey Avalon

When Mickey Avalon pierced pop culture consciousness in the mid-aughts — mostly on the strength of “Jane Fonda” which still remains his most popular track — he was labelled a glammed-up rapper obsessed with the trashy parts of life. And while many argued that he was more fascinating than talented thanks to a hard-luck backstory that involved taking his father off life support as a teen and fistfuls of addictions Avalon spent the following years quietly emerging from his self-imposed shadow.

He helped highlight soon-to-be stars like Ke$ha. He shuffled labels releasing Loaded on Suburban Noize before electing to release his upcoming EP I Get Even on his own label. And through it all he’s rapped about grimy back alleys nose-packing nights out and his dick (of course). We caught up with Avalon at his California home before heading out on a tour that’ll lead him through the West before winding its way to Australia.

Addiction looms large in your music. Do your songs help you deal with the complexities of addiction?

I definitely think that there can be a therapeutic value to it. The only thing that I try to stress is that I don’t have misconceptions about drug use. I never say it’s funny or tragic and drugs are never glorified. At the end of the day when it comes to addiction you have to pay the piper at some point. Do the crime pay the time. Make your decisions and know what the cause and effect is. I mean if you get shitfaced drunk you’ll have a hangover. Don’t be surprised. A lot of the characters in my songs end up dying.

My songs aren’t like cigarette commercials where everyone’s laughing. It’s like the warning photo on the cigarette packs that show people’s lips corroded it’s about going back and forth. I talk about the extremes of everything not the down-the-middle stuff.

Then you also have pure party tracks. Among all of it though you’re not afraid to confront heavier material like your losses heartbreak and yes addiction. Do you ever have a tough time making painful personal material public?

No that’s not too difficult. You write about stuff from within and my life isn’t peachy but it’s not hard to talk about things that happened to me a long time ago. Old things don’t feel as close to me. And I’m not going to write about boring things — I mean as far as my life goes I’m not going to write songs about the record industry.

So do you key in on personal tragedies?

I mean I’m going through a move now but that’s not the makings of a new song. You don’t need tragedy to make good art. It helps I guess but I’d rather be happy and not making good art than vice versa.

Let’s talk about I Get Even . What kind of headspace were you in when you were writing it?

I take a while with most of my work and while a song may only take a day to record it could be years in the making. All of my work is a continuous story of my life in some way. A lot of it’s the same stuff [as my earlier records].

But with music like with writing or books if you’re a good writer you can write about almost anything and make it good. The same’s true for my music and in my world what I think is good rock ’n’ roll or good rap is only a few subjects: Sex drugs love heartbreak.

You have a teenage daughter who’s formulating her own tastes in music. Do you ever think about how she interprets your music?

I mean she respects what I do and yeah she totally loves music. She’s not a big rap fan or a fan of my music — anything music that has to do with your parents is going to be weird. When she’s been in town she’s been to shows and had a good time but my music isn’t anything she’d really put on and play with her friends. It’s stuff her dad makes and I don’t think she wants the world to know she’s my daughter — she’s making her own identity. And I’m proud of that.