Billboard recently chatted with Stacy Jones, frontman of the “Flavor of the Weak” power pop band American Hi-Fi. Aside from giving some inside information on his band’s just-announced new album “Blood & Lemonade,” he also spoke about his current gig working as music director (and touring drummer) for a pop star you might have heard of: Miley Cyrus.
The Bangerz tour has been the talk of the pop world since it kicked off Feb. 14. Team Cyrus partied across the U.S.A. with its traveling circus of furries, foam fingers, Bill Clinton impersonators and human-sized hot dogs until Cyrus was bedridden in mid-March, forcing her to cancel and reschedule a slew of dates. But Miley is well again and fresh off a successful comeback concert two nights ago in London. To mark the occasion, here are six things we learned about the Bangerz tour from Jones.
More Miley Cyrus:
1. The backing band on the Bangerz tour is the same one Miley played with eight years ago.
“Initially, the job was putting the band together. We put this band together for Miley and we’re going on eight years now. Kudos to her (former) manager Jason Morey. He said, “I want you to hire people that will be her band for the next 20 years. The five guys in the band today are the same five guys who started with her eight years ago, which is rare in the pop game. People tend to come and go.”
2. There’s no one else pulling the strings. Miley calls all the shots on the Bangerz tour. And she’s as punk rock as they come.
“I was just doing an interview with some punk rock guys in London. And they’re like, ‘You play with Miley Cyrus? How punk rock is that!’ And I’m like, ‘You know what? She’s the most punk rock person I know on the planet!’ She doesn’t give a fuck. She’s totally authentic. She’s as punk rock as you can be. I really love that about her. The decisions she makes aren’t these premeditated things with management and giant P.R. teams. She has an idea and she does it. She just calls me and says, “This is what I wanna do” and we take care of it for her. Most of the time it’s on a whim.”
3. The covers and collaborations on the Bangerz tour have been very spur-of-the-moment.
She’ll call me in the afternoon and say, “Wayne and Steven from the Flaming Lips are coming to sound check and we’re going to play ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ tonight at the Staples Center. Cool?’ And I’ll be like, ‘Sure!’ I’ll call the band and say, ‘Everybody learn ‘Yoshimi.’ We’ll rehearse it at soundcheck two or three times and three hours later, we’re playing it in front of 18,000 people!”
4. During the show and right before it, the backstage area is a sea of ridiculous costumes and props. But aside from that, it’s (shockingly) pretty tame.
“If you walk backstage right before the show it is a pretty crazy scene. Prior to that, it’s Miley hanging out in her room listening to Bob Dylan and the band guys sitting around eating catering and drinking coffee. It’s very tame. It’s not what everybody pictures. There was an after party after the London show last night and I don’t even think Miley showed up. We were all there but I think she went back to her hotel. People’s perception of her daily life is very different from reality.”
5. Unsurprisingly, canceling a bunch of North American shows due to illness was a big disappointment for Miley.
“That was a really hard couple of weeks for her. She was in the hospital for nine days in L.A. or something. For someone who has as much energy as she does… We were just starting to hit our groove playing those shows in the States. I know how much that meant to her. With American Hi-Fi, I’ve had to cancel shows of 500 people when I was sick. Imagine the pressure on her when you when you have to cancel on an 18,000-person arena. But she was laying in a hospital bed.”
6. Miley is a big fan of Dylan, Coldplay and Dolly Parton.
“She has really, really great taste in music. It’s not uncommon to walk in there and hear Dylan. She’s really on a Flaming Lips kick now. They joined us onstage a couple of times and she’s done some recording with them.
We have a portion of the show that’s on a little acoustic stage out by the house board. It’s like a free-for-all. She tells us before the show what songs she wants to play. We have about 15 or 20 songs that we can play as of right now for that stage and we keep adding to that repertoire. We’ve played Dylan. Right now we’re doing “The Scientist” by Coldplay. We’re doing “Jolene” by Dolly Parton. We’ve done songs by Irma Thomas — stuff she hears and likes… We kinda fly by the seat of our pants because we don’t know what she wants to play!”