15 Apr 2011

Miley Cyrus is one teen who won't cave in to peer pressure

They're just two siblings playing Nirvana covers in their parents' garage at high volume. The only difference is it's Miley Cyrus and her brother Trace, singer in Metro Station.

"Heart Shaped Box is my favourite Nirvana song," Miley says. Yes, really.

"It is," she insists. "I sing it all the time in our garage. Mom has turned the garage into such a cool place. I want to be a photographer, so we put in lights for me to do my photography. And my brother plays guitar there. It's fun."

Miley Cyrus wants to bring some of her garage fun to the arenas for her Gypsy Heart tour -- the first time she'll perform in Australia and a tour all about the music.

"I have to do stuff for me," Cyrus says. "I didn't get to do that on my last tour, it was all about how many costume changes we could do. I want to show people I am more than just what they see on TV. It's really personal."

That involves Cyrus doing a swag of covers. The title Gypsy Heart would suggest she's a Fleetwood Mac fan.

"Dang!" Cyrus says in her Southern drawl. "I love Stevie (Nicks). And Joan Jett. I'm doing covers of them. There's songs people won't expect."

File Heart Shaped Box and its lyrics about meat-eating orchids, umbilical nooses and cancer-consumption under that category. Cyrus is also a whizz at Smells Like Teen Spirit.

"I have a bunch of Nirvana songs I can do," she says.

"My band is freaking out. They have to learn every song by every artist I like because they never know what song I'll throw at them. This tour might be a mess but it'll be fun."

It won't be all bohemia and grunge covers; Cyrus will be playing the hits that made her famous -- See You Again, 7 Things, The Climb and Party in the USA among them.

"I can play anything off any of my solo records," she says. "There might be kids who don't know Nirvana. I hope they do. There could be complete silence after I play Teen Spirit and I'll just hear people saying, 'We want to hear Party in the USA!' "

Cyrus is used to everyone wanting something different from her.

Her career exploded as the split personality (school girl and pop star) on Hannah Montana, the 2006 show that made her rich and Disney even richer.

Her family relocated from Nashville to Hollywood where the show was filmed; Cyrus's father Billy Ray also got a role on the TV hit. He was previously best known for unavoidable No.1 Achy Breaky Heart and an almighty mullet.

Billy Ray made headlines earlier this year when he slated the show -- which ended last year -- in GQ magazine.

"The damn show destroyed my family," the country singer said. "Heck, yeah. I'd erase it all in a second if I could."

His daughter wants to set the record straight.

"My dad still loves that show. They only pick and choose what will sell, not necessarily what people want to hear. That's unfair to my dad and also to fans who think we're ungrateful for it. We loved doing that show.

"But it's also hard when you have to move a family of five kids from a small town to a big city, that'd take its toll on anybody, especially my mum.

"Mums are the ones that do it, they do the move, get kids in schools, it's a hard trot, so of course everyone's exhausted but we all embraced that show.

"It's five years since I auditioned -- it feels like a lifetime ago. I've changed a lot. I've gone from being a student and cheerleader in a normal school in Nashville to what I do now in just a few years."

Cyrus is no stranger to being scrutinised; but most teenagers turn 18 without websites counting down to the precise second.

One tabloid asked if Cyrus could survive the "Disney death sentence" of turning 18.

"I've done OK," Miley says. "I'm still alive. It's all good. I'm not in jail.

"Everyone freaks out -- 'Oh God, she's an adult now' -- but I've been working like an adult my whole life. People just look at the bad. They don't look at the time and effort I've put into my job and how much I've gotten done. They look at it as a bad thing I'm an adult, which is silly."

Controversy and Miley Cyrus are never too far apart.

Last year someone sold photographs of her using a bong -- she clarified it was a legal substance called Saliva popular among teenagers in LA. Which, of course, she is.

Her father slated her on Twitter ("There is much beyond my control right now") after the bong incident.

Cyrus cannily says: "It's fine. It's always been fine between me and my dad. People just make up whatever they want to say to sell magazines. No one's going to print my dad saying what a good girl I am and how proud he is of me. That doesn't sell magazines."

Cyrus talks with refreshing honesty. Despite her publicist insisting on not talking about her personal life, it's Cyrus who brings it up and is happy to discuss her whole life -- realising everyone else does.

Does she get the feeling people are waiting for her to really mess up?

"Yes," Cyrus says. "People love it because it sells something, a magazine or a TV show. I mess up. There you go. There's your headline. You'll sell your paper.

"But if you live your life trying to be perfect you don't really live your life because you don't really make any mistakes and at the end of your life you won't be very smart or wise."

It was that mentality Cyrus adopted when hosting comedy sketch show Saturday Night Live earlier this year.

Her opening monologue, I'm Not Perfect, saw her sing lines like, "There's a photo of me being kissed by a dude, Annie Liebowitz tried to get me nude . . ." She also talked about her pole dancing and, when noting she's never had a porn tape added, "don't these things seem worse than a bong?"

"If the whole world is going to stress about what I've done then I'll laugh at it," Cyrus says. "That lets everyone know it's OK. It's not a secret. It's like the elephant in the room."

Cyrus says the SNL crew initially tip-toed around her, worried if she'd be happy to take the mickey out of herself.

"It's not like people don't know what's going on in my life," she says. "It's OK to talk about it, I'm not losing any sleep at night and neither should anyone else. You learn from your mistakes and then you move on from them and you're a better person."

Cyrus was nominated for dual Razzies for worst actress last year for her work in The Last SongHannah Montana: The Movie. and

Last year's Can't Be Tamed saw her slated for a racy, sexualised video.

"It bothers me when someone doesn't like what I do," Cyrus says. "But my true fans are down with it. I'm an artist, not a puppet. You can't tell me what to write because you can't tell me what to feel.

"I'm an actress when I want but I wouldn't be a musician if I wanted to act all the time. I want to be able to do both.

"Acting is when I get to be someone I'm not, but when it comes to my music I can't do that, I have to say what's on my mind. You hope people like it, but if not, it's your record, it's your name on it, you have to be proud of it, not anyone else."

Cyrus is between albums. And she's between music.

"I'm just writing right now, mostly for other artists. There's so much going on I don't feel I can give 110 per cent to any album so I'm writing when I have free days."

Instead she's listening to music ("I love dubstep -- dubstep for driving, rock and roll at home") and hanging with her mother Tish.

Her parents separated, but recently reconciled. Tish took to Facebook to silence rumours: "Our family has weathered a huge storm and I feel we are stronger than we have ever been."

"Most people hate that their mum has a Facebook page, but I love that my mum does," Cyrus says. "Every day there's new crap someone writes, my mum gets to clear it up."

Which reminds her of something her father tells her.

"My dad always says, 'He who has not sinned can cast the first stone'," Cyrus says.

"People can judge me all they want but it's usually because there's something going on with themselves. You just have to be proud of what you do."


Thanks @emilyxrose92

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