It's never easy being the brother of someone famous. But when that someone is the most famous teenager in all the world, it's especially difficult to break out from her immense shadow to pursue your own professional endeavors.
Still, Trace Cyrus — who plays lead guitar for synth-pop outfit Metro Station — has managed to do just that, even with his half-sister, "Hannah Montana" star Miley Cyrus, dominating international headlines, both for her music and film work as well as her personal foibles. But if it hadn't been for "Hannah Montana," chances are good that Trace Cyrus never would have met Mason Musso, his Metro Station partner in crime.
"It was our parents who told us we should meet," Cyrus told MTV News this week. "I already knew [Mason's] little brother, Mitchel, because he'd been cast on 'Hannah Montana' with my sister, and [the show is the reason I moved] to California, as [did] Mason's family. One day, Miley gave me a CD of Mason's, and I fell in love with the music. I went down to the ['Hannah Montana'] set one day to hang out with my sister, and Mason was there. We hung out a little bit and talked about music. The next week, I think, I went over to his house, and we recorded our first song. Ever since then, we'd get together every weekend to make music, and I think our parents are shocked that it turned into something more than they expected."
Of course, Cyrus and Musso don't want to be known as their siblings' brothers, and they've worked hard to distinguish themselves from their famous family members.
"My sister and my dad were doing acting and singing, and Mason's brother was doing acting. ... Making music was something we wanted to do so bad, but we didn't know if we'd be able to get out of their spotlights and do our own thing and be our own individual selves," Cyrus explained. "But it's been cool, because Metro Station ... people have taken to it as our own thing — separate from everything and anyone else."
So far, Metro Station's self-titled 2007 debut has sold more than 87,000 copies in the U.S., and the band has toured with the likes of Panic at the Disco, Motion City Soundtrack and Forever the Sickest Kids. This summer, the guys are hoping to pick up even more fans as they hit the road with Boys Like Girls and Good Charlotte for a trek that starts July 8 in Chicago.
Metro Station signed a deal with Columbia Records soon after an intern working at the label stumbled upon their MySpace page, Cyrus recalled. The intern told his boss about the guys, and before they knew it, they were on a plane to New York, where they tracked the songs they'd been working on for their debut disc. And while his sister isn't the type to offer words of advice, Cyrus said he's learned a great deal about the music business from his father.
The majority of his life was spent in and around the industry, thanks to his honky-tonkin' pop, Billy Ray Cyrus. His summers were spent on the road with his dad, and over the years, he learned firsthand about the inner workings of what can be a soul-crushing business. He learned that fame can be fleeting — one minute they love you, and the next they've forgotten your name.
"I never had my mind set on being an entertainer in the music business," he explained. "I've been playing my guitar, and I've been on tour with Dad every summer since I was a kid. And I've seen mistakes he's made and the stuff he went through with labels, and I know that the music business is scary."
But that hasn't deterred Metro Station from carrying on and working on new material, some of which they may preview for fans on their summer tour. But will Cyrus ever team up with Miley on a Metro Station track?
"Actually, I'm going to sing on one of the tracks on her next album," he said. "I can't say much about it right now, but we will be collaborating."