The group’s “No Strings Attached” album turns 20 this year.
What does Justin Timberlake really think about an *NSYNC reunion? And would JC Chasez consider taking the group on the road without him? Those were two burning questions posed by fans on “The Daily Popcast With Lance Bass,” airing this week — and sort of answered.
A return to the *NSYNC original lineup — Timberlake, Chasez, Bass, Chris Kirkpatrick and Joey Fatone — would be the ideal way to mark 20 years since “No Strings Attached” was released, selling over 2.4 million copies in its first week, a record for the time.
“We’ve been talking about it,” Bass tells Variety. “No plans have been made. If there will even be plans, who knows? … I think if we did anything, it would be for the fun of it — the world needs something fun to listen to and I think we could bring some positivity to it. That’s what we need right now. It could be something simple to test it out, and if it works, it works and if it doesn’t, it doesn’t.”
Bass, 40, says fans will get clearer answers on where the group stands on the idea when he releases his interviews, one day at a time starting today. One member will also interview Bass for Friday’s edition of the Popcast, while Saturday’s anniversary special features co-hosts Peachy Keen (Jess Keener) and Giggles (Lisa Delcampo) asking the singers “hilarious” rapid-fire questions.
“I’ve done Joey and JC so far and they’re very different interviews,” Bass adds. “JC’s the hardest to nail down and more mysterious, so it was interesting to get into his head. You’ll definitely hear his opinion on the reunion and if it’ll happen.”
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Bass is also thrilled about getting a rare insight into Timberlake’s thoughts on topics the two have “never discussed” in their 25-year friendship. “He’s the only [bandmate] I haven’t interviewed before, so I’m super-excited to delve into what his life’s like now, talk about ‘No Strings Attached and that era, ask what that [solo] transition was like and get his opinions on the future of *NSYNC,” says Bass. “I want to pull the curtain back and show you who Justin is – who my best friend was years ago. He was 14 years-old when I met him. A bond that’s incredible. We experienced things most people didn’t go through and I love the juxtaposition of what we were then to now, and how we’ve all grown into who we grew into … it’s all because we influenced each other at such a young age.”
It’s not surprising how impactful the young singers’ friendships were given the tumultuous wave they rode together preceding NSA’s release. While working on the follow-up to 1997’s self-titled debut, the group – as well as their peers, the Backstreet Boys – became suspicious of their then-manager Lou Pearlman’s financial dealings. Both bands took legal action, with *NSYNC successfully cutting ties with Pearlman and RCA, signing with Jive Records and retaining their name.
“It was a crazy time because we didn’t know where our careers were going and every expert around us said, ‘Your career’s over kids,’” recalls Bass, who produced the film “Boy Band Con,” a 2019 documentary about Pearlman. “That hurts when you’re that young and have worked so hard. The last thing you want to hear is the head of the label saying, ‘Guys, you might have one more album in you if you just stick with Lou Pearlman.’ It was a scary moment. We thought our careers were done. So many crazy thoughts went through our heads, but when we finally got our name back and ended our relationship with Lou, everything started flowing.”
NSA spawned two of *NSYNC’s biggest hits, “Bye Bye Bye” and “It’s Gonna Be Me,” which featured writing credits by Max Martin, Andreas Carlsson and the Cheiron Studios team. The album also featured songs by Richard Marx and Diane Warren.
While *NSYNC followed up with 2001’s “Celebrity,” the quintet announced a hiatus in 2002, and in recent years have only reconvened on stage to honor Timberlake and his Video Vanguard Award at the 2013 MTV VMAs. He was absent from Coachella 2019, where the four joined Ariana Grande for a surprise appearance, having just wrapped his Man of the Woods tour.
It was at Coachella where Bass met an artist he’d never heard of — Lizzo — who would become key to one of his biggest 2020 projects, collaborating with Richard Branson’s Virgin Fest. Lizzo and A$AP Rocky are headlining the Los Angeles music and environmental awareness event in June.
“Richard Branson and myself are big space geeks and tech people, so we wanted to create something that entertained people – by bringing in the Lizzos and Anderson.Paaks – but also showed the future,” Bass elaborates. “It’s about doing right [for] the environment and what next cool futuristic thing will help our planet. It reminds me of the World Fair, where people used to go to see new stuff, with a little mix of Coachella!”
Bass’ love for podcasts will feature at Virgin Fest, where The Daily Popcast and Bass’ favorite hosts will broadcast live from the Bubble Tap VIP Area, a nod to his Bubble Tap Trailer mobile wine business. It’s one of several boozy endeavors, including his West Hollywood bar Rocco’s WeHo and upcoming mixers line, J.A.X. (Just Add X – X being your favorite spirit), a collaboration with “Vanderpump Rules” star Jax Taylor, launching at Virgin Fest.
“The fun thing has been coming up with J.A.X flavors because they’re unique, taste great, are low-calorie and have vitamins,” says Bass, who’s also producing a film about *NSYNC superfans who put their lives on hold in order to follow the band on tour. “The dangerous part is you can’t taste the alcohol. It’ll sneak up on you.”
As for whether J.A.X or Bubble Tap have been loosening lips in-studio during Bass’ *NSYNC interviews: “I haven’t done Justin or Chris yet, so maybe I’ll bring some in … then they can give me testimonials!”
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