You’ve cat you be kitten me right meow! In this exclusive interview, NSYNC’S JC Chasez discusses his brand new Meow Mix commercial with The Knockturnal‘s Kinsey Schofield. This boy band-inspired campaign was executed by Publicis’ PS One and creatively led by BBH US.
Kinsey Schofield: JC, 90s boybands are culturally iconic now. Even celebrated in a Meow Mix commercial! What was your first reaction to the Tabby 5 concept?
JC Chasez: I loved it. You know, I’ve been offered… obviously, boy bands have been around forever and people are trying to find ways to market with boy bands and things like that… but it just never interested me. I don’t hop on a lot of things unless it’s something that I find genuinely interesting. This concept came about, it piqued my interest because it was different, you know what I mean? It wasn’t like, ‘Hey, you’re in a boy band.’ It’s like, ‘No, we’re gonna have dancing cats!’ *laugh* I was like, ‘Okay, where do I fit in?’ And they were like, ‘Actually, let us play the song.’ And I was like, ‘Oh!’ *excited*
They took the Meow Mix song and straight up remixed it, 90s style, like 2K, and that’s when I was all in! I was like, ‘Okay, it has the sound!’ We have straight-up dancing cats! I’m all in. So, the Tabby 5 and Tyler Snuggles became my guy. I loved it. Again, to do something that’s ordinary is fine, but to do something a little left of center, that’s why I was more interested in this than the other offers that have obviously come across before.
KS: I read that you did a lot of your work with Meow Mix in the UK. What was the process like?
JC: Well, look, the United Kingdom has some great filming facilities. But it was just a matter of, that’s where they had a production team and it was a European director. I go over there all the time, by the way, to work with different people. They said it’d be best if we just did it over here because we have a team over here, the director’s over here, you know, instead of piling the entire production and bringing it stateside, it’s easier to just bring talent in, you know, it’s one or two people.
KS: Have you seen the commercial yet? Did it put a smile on your face?
JC: Yeah! Well, when we were working on set, I had an idea of what it is, but you don’t know what it’s gonna look like until you see it, right? They were sending it to me in stages. They sent me the rough, and so you would still see the sticks on the cat paws and stuff like that. But that’s the charm of it, right? But yeah, the commercial’s cute. Again, what I like about it is the song! The song itself. Meow Meow, it’s iconic, right? So we’re so glad we get that but then we got the 90s remix on it, and they went all the way, the high note, you know, which… I’ve done in my day… which was really cute. And to see it all put together, yeah, it’s a cute commercial. It’s a bit of fun. It’s a bit of silliness, and it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
It’s just having fun. You know? We have fun with our, our animals, our pets, our pet friends. We have fun with them. And they took that point of view and said, ‘Let’s have fun with people who love their animals, who love their pets, and let’s just make a fun commercial.’
KS: I love it. Yeah, I watched it several times. It’s like a Super Bowl commercial.
JC: Oh, man, you had the wind machine going! *laugh* I was giving hands and angles. And the director was really sweet, by the way, everybody was really sweet. Everybody that I worked with on this project was lovely. I have to say, the people they brought around this campaign – just a wonderful group of people. The Meox Mix people did it the absolute right way.
KS: Some of these boyband documentaries boil the success of the bands down to types… bad boy… baby face… if it was as simple as this mythical formula… wouldn’t we have an NSYNC type today and always?
JC: I don’t know if the type is as important as… for me… talent first, right? Once you have the talent, you identify the personality. That’s going to shine naturally. But you have to have something to lean on first and that’s why some will make more noise than others. The ones that make more noise obviously have a bit more talent. I would say talent first and then the stories tell themselves. But you have to have something there to work with in the first place.
KS: Do you have a favorite NSYNC moment? Was it getting the call that you were opening up for Janet Jackson? Was it the Super Bowl halftime show? Was it something we didn’t see… like being recognized or a tour overseas?
JC: It’s not one moment, right? There were a lot of great moments that I love and appreciate. The thing that resonates with me years later… it’s a feeling. It’s a feeling that you would get, that win, you know, when you felt like you did something. That was a great feeling. I don’t think it was any one moment. It’s hard to describe. It’s just a feeling. When you feel like you did something well. It could be in the studio when you feel like, ‘Oh, we’ve got a song here!’ Or when it’s a performance and you go, ‘Oh, we got ’em!’ You know, when you’re on stage and you realize that you have them? In the early shows, for us, it was always a proving ground. When we were unknowns, ‘Who are these people? What are they? What are they doing here? Who’s next?’ And then by the second or third song… they didn’t know they liked you until they saw you, and then you kind of, you pulled them in. I think the feeling of winning the audience is the greatest feeling.
KS: Was there ever really beef between the Backstreet Boys and NSYNC or were we all just fighting on the playground over an urban legend?
JC: Every individual is different. I can’t generalize because everybody will have a different point of view. I never had any animosity toward anyone. But, you know, if another band came out with a good song, I wanted to come out with a good song. If they had a good performance, I wanted to have a great performance. I’m not saying I want it to be better than anybody, but it would definitely motivate me if I saw somebody do something well. I was like, ‘Oh, I gotta dig deep.’ I think that’s a great and healthy thing.
KS: You’ve always seemed to have such a grateful heart about your success. Do you wish you would have done anything differently?
JC: I’ve been on television like basically since I was like 12 or 13, and I’m, you know, I’m getting up there now. I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t change a thing. My life is my life. I wouldn’t swap it for anybody. Like, of course, there are hard lessons in there and you don’t wanna go through those painful experiences, but honestly, without those painful experiences, I wouldn’t come out the way I did.
KS: What is the wildest or funniest meme you’ve ever seen about NSYNC or yourself?
JC: The band? I don’t know. Like, look, to be honest with you, my friends and the people that I run around with… they show me [stuff.] I don’t actually pay too much attention. So, it usually has to be shown to me by someone else… and they’ll go, ‘Have you seen this? Have you seen this?’ And I’ll usually be clueless about something. In general, every now and then, there’s something that pops up. But nothing comes to mind.
KS: I guess if you’re not active on social media… it’s not like when it becomes the middle of April… you just know that you’re about to be hit with…
JC: You’re gonna be MAY’d. *laughs*
KS: Exactly. What are you currently singing at the top of your lungs in the car or living room with your pets? What are you listening to?
JC: I mean, with my pets, I would be blasting the Meow Mix song. Real talk: Tabby 5. In the car, it’s gonna sound really lame, I’m constantly flipping channels. I mean, I flip between, maybe 10 or 15 different channels. But lately, I’ve been on a big classical kick… a ton of Beethoven right now.
KS: You autographed my Mickey Mouse Club cd years ago! Are you excited to see Ryan Gosling as Ken?
JC: This is actually… so this is fun! When you’re in the business long enough… you can see things come full circle, right? So obviously, you know, in my youth I worked with Ryan on The Mouse Club, right? Sweet, sweetest guy. And later, before he broke as a movie star, he was playing clubs in LA with his guitar. We would go support him and make sure that there were crowds to see him in the bars where he was singing at. Now he’s made this Barbie film… as it turns out, when NSYNC started in the early days and we were signed to a German label… one of the bands that we befriended… because we would see them at a lot of these radio shows in Europe… was the band Aqua! *laughs*
We became friendly with that band because we were just always running into them at gigs! So now to see that band have a resurgence and see those two worlds collide, has been kind of surreal! I’m kind of like, ‘Oh, wow, this part of my life is mixing with this part of my life!’ They both had nothing to do with each other and now they’re colliding and I’m happy about both! I’m happy that their song is giving them a resurgence and I’m loving the fact that – by the way – I love the fact that Ryan and Margot [Margot Robbie] have taken on these roles. You know? I don’t know if anyone would originally think, ‘What I would like to play?’ These actors saw the challenge and attacked it. And I love that.
That’s been one of the things that I’ve enjoyed… seeing Ryan’s career evolve. He’s made films in every kind of genre, which is lovely. The guy’s made musicals, he’s made dramas, he’s made comedies. When I see these roles that he and Margot have taken on… I think it’s a really interesting project. I just don’t think that anybody could do this. And that he jumped in and did it… I love it. I think it’s great. You gotta challenge yourself. And he’s obviously doing that.
KS: No, you’re absolutely right. It takes courage. And that is exciting to see. All right, JC. I think my time with you is up, but I just wanted to say you’re such a blessing and thank you for making my childhood so happy and sweet!