Former child star Aaron Carter is so in love with love, he not only named his first full album in 15 years LØVE and released it during Valentine’s week, but he also has the word tattooed in a massive font across his neck. But he’s no longer singing about the puppy love that inspired his debut single, a cover of the Jets’ “Crush on You” when he was 10 years old.
Now, at age 30 and still single, Carter — whose past girlfriends have reportedly included Hilary Duff, Lindsay Lohan, Kari Anne Peniche, Madison Parker, and Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch — is singing about “the darker, edgier sides of love that people may be embarrassed to talk about, or maybe they just don’t have the strength to leave, stuff like that,” he tells Yahoo Entertainment.
Petsch inspired one track on LØVE, “Seattle TideZ,” but Carter says the entire record — which he self-funded, co-wrote, and co-produced, and features songs like “Hard to Love,” “Let Me Let You Go,” and “Don’t Say Goodbye” — is about his turbulent love life in general.
“The context of the album really talks about present times that I had in relationships in my past and really more so the self-recognition of what you need to do if you need to get out of it, and if you’re too co-dependent. Those are a lot of the things I was dealing with in my relationships. But, yeah, I’m excited to see where my new love is.” (He says he’s tried Match.com and jokes about how it would be fun to “catfish” people, but so far, he’s avoided using Tinder or other dating apps.)
“Come on — I got love tattooed massively on my neck!” Carter laughs, although he says he plans to have the tattoo removed so he can pursue future acting opportunities. “I was right in the middle of really being broken up, and a back-and-forth, toxic relationship, and I came up with this project, LØVE, because I wasn’t feeling loved, and then I went to the tattoo shop and had my tattoo artist, Landon, tattoo this ‘love’ idea on my neck. So, really the main nucleus radius of my life is love. And I felt like sometimes I lost a little bit of it.
“So, I’m always gonna want to find a really good relationship. I’m 30 now. I’ve overcome a lot of things in my life, and I look forward to improving myself in my own characteristics and traits, and maybe bad traits and habits I may have. And I’m not gonna be perfect. Who’s perfect? But I’m gonna strive to be the best that I can, and keep my heart. My heart is always open to love.”
The year 2017 was a rough time for Carter, as he dealt with not only romantic problems but also depression, an eating disorder, and various legal issues. “Last year was full of some dumb decisions that I made,” he admits. “I got arrested for an alleged DUI, and then I went to a treatment center to treat emotional stuff, and also I was really underweight, like 115 pounds. I came out of there at 160 pounds, really looking forward to 2018 and focusing on being happy.”
As for any sort of eureka moment Carter experienced that helped him get past his troubles, he says, “I think the epiphany came after all the process was done. So the beginning of this year, I think it really hit me, what I needed to do. After the treatment center, I was even prescribed to certain medications, and I took myself off of all of these things because I wanted to be able to feel my emotions, whether they were good or bad.”
Last year, Carter also came out as bisexual (“I touched on a situation that happened when I was 17, and that I can have an attraction to men and women”); his LGBTQ fans rallied around him, and they continue to do so. But Carter tells Yahoo Entertainment that when he envisions himself in a long-term relationship, “I really see myself being with a woman. That’s where I stand today, but the LGBTQ community has always been supportive of me regardless.”
One would think that hitting the big 3-0 would spark a third-life crisis for a former tween idol like Carter, but he says he’s excited to enter this new phase of this life — hopefully with the right woman by his side. “I’m really excited for my thirties. I thought that maybe I’d probably be married or have kids at this point, something like that, but that didn’t happen,” he shrugs. “But my bad experience with relationships is not gonna deter me from trying to have a good relationship in the future.”
Aaron Carter’s LØVË is out now. Watch his full Yahoo Entertainment Facebook Live chat with his supportive fans below.
This article originally ran on Yahoo Music.