Aly & AJ met Miley Cyrus in 2005 at a Disney Channel gathering — before the sister duo put out its fi rst album and before Cyrus’ “Hannah Montana” became the CD- and ticket-selling machine it’s turned into.
But even as fledgling stars, the bond was instantaneous.
“We all kind of hit it off right away,” recalls older sister Aly (ne Alyson Renae Michalka), 18. “I know we were talking about music and just kind of ... girl things. We’re all energetic and really love music and acting. We share a real common bond.”
And that remains true to this day, when Aly & AJ find themselves opening for two weeks worth of the 15-year-old Cyrus’ Best of Both Worlds Tour starting tonight at Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena.
“It’s a great match,” notes AJ (ne Amanda Joy Michalka), 16. “I think (Cyrus) is a doll, like a little sister. It’ll be all girls, rockin’ out onstage. That’s gonna be really fun.”
For Aly & AJ, however, it’s just a continuation of a fun ride that dates back to their youth in Seattle and southern California, when they began singing in church (their mother, Carrie Michalka, was part of the Christian group J.C. Band) and then acting in TV films and series such as “Six Feet Under,” “General Hospital” and “Phil of the Future.” But it’s been in the past three years they’ve made their mark as a duo.
They’ve released three albums — 2005’s platinum “Into the Rush,” the following year’s holiday album “Acoustic Hearts of Winter” and last year’s “Insomniatic,” which debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard charts in July and has sold nearly 300,000 copies since. They also appeared in the Disney Channel film “Cow Belles” and the MTV feature “Super Sweet 16: The Movie” — along with a rash of product tie-ins that include Aly & AJ dolls, Honey Comb cereal boxes, calendars, video games, jewelry and cosmetics.
It’s very much a teenybopper concern, of course, but the sisters got a credibility boost in December when Time magazine named “Potential Breakup Song,” the first single from “Insomniatic,” as one of its Top 10 Best Songs of 2007.
“That was amazing — so huge, so credible, so awesome,” gushes AJ. “The fact that it’s Time magazine is ridiculous. Everyone was texting me — ‘My mom and dad saw this ...’ And it was great company to be in, too.”
Aly & AJ hope it bodes well for the future. Though Aly notes that they’re “still in deep with ‘Insomniatic’ ” — including the new single, “Like Whoa,” that’s also in the Disney Channel movie “Minutemen” — they’ve already started working on their third album and, according to AJ, are even done with the songwriting.
“We haven’t really talked about the sound yet,” she says. “Aly and I are just throwing around ideas, writing cool stuff on piano. It’s in the laboratory, kind of, but we’re always wanting to reinvent ourselves and come up with something new.”
Aly agrees, predicting that “it’s probably going to be even more different than (‘Insomniatic’) is from (‘Into the Rush’). We’re still staying Aly & AJ and who we are, but at the same time, we’re not doing the same thing over and over and over again. We want to kind of surprise our fans.”
The surprise, however, will have to wait awhile. After the Best of Both Worlds Tour stint, the sisters are going their separate ways — AJ to finish filming the Peter Jackson-directed “The Lovely Bones” in New Zealand and Aly to Austin, Texas, where she’ll work on “Will,” a drama that will also allow her to write and perform some music for the soundtrack.
“We’ve always wanted to do stuff that’s separate,” explains Aly. “We have done some (acting) projects together, but music is definitely where we come together and are able to share. But the acting is definitely separate.”
They’re looking forward to their short stint back together, even if it’s in a supporting role for Cyrus. They’ll join her onstage for a version of Kiss’ “Rock and Roll All Nite,” and, they promise, there’s no sense of rivalry with the younger star.
“No, not at all,” says Aly. “I think that would be weird if it was like that. We’re both different acts, and we play different music, demographic wise. The thing that brings us together is we are girls, we’re singers and we’re friends — that’s the main thing about that tour and what’s gonna be the most fun. It’s like having a girlfriend with you on tour, really. I think it’s a perfect bill.”
The Best of Both Worlds Tour, featuring Miley Cyrus/ Hannah Montana and Aly & AJ plays at 7 p.m. Friday (Jan. 11) at Joe Louis Arena, 600 Civic Center Drive, Detroit. Tickets are sold out. Call (313) 471-6606 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.
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