They're Going To Be Huge... And We Don't Mean Just The Hair!
Bliss May 2000
By Peter Hart (additional reporting by Lisa Smosarski)
Bliss 2000

*NSYNC's Justin Timberlake is already cross - and we haven't even asked him any questions yet. "There's a lot of acts out there who don't have a clue what they're about," he says grumpily, before adding: "They're just out there to make a quick buck."

Now we don't mean to be rude or anything, but to look at Justin and his mates, perhaps we could be mistaken for thinking *NSYNC are the ones who don't have a clue - just look at that hair! The criminal facial furniture! The way they bounce along to the menacing hip hop on the stereo looking more like Ali G than Puff Daddy...

And yet it seems that everyone is talking about the five lads from Orlando, Florida. So what is going on? Well, get this. Stateside, *NSYNC have sold over ten million albums (published before new record was released) - Yes that's ten million - which makes them even bigger than the Backstreet Boys. In fact, last year they made more money than any other group on the planet - except for the Rolling Stones and Whitney Houston - and who cares about them? So could it be that *NSYNC are, er, actually quite good then?

Backlash Boys

The Backstreet Boy's record label, Jive, obviously think they're really good - they've just signed *NSYNC up, and are hoping that we'll grow to love them just as much as we do the BSB's. So how do Nick, Brian and co feel about that? "I guess they were threatened by our success" admits Lance Bass, the 20-year-old country fan who's growing out his highlights. "Two years ago we were compared to the Backstreet Boys, but now they get asked about *NSYNC."

"Yeah, they were pissed with us when we signed to their label" adds co-frontman JC Chasez, 23, who as a kid presented The Mickey Mouse Club TV show in America wit Justin, Britney and Christina Aguilera. "But I don't think they're trying to be like us, I just think they're trying to evolve. And no doubt we'll try and evolve too"

Justin - a 19-year-old Ryan Phillipe clone with mad ginger hair - would rather skirt around the subject, maybe 'cause he's the baby of the band. "That's not a part of my world," he drawls quietly,as we wonder - can that hair be real? "I'm not trying to be rude, but I don't have time to worry about some other group's problem. Do you know what I mean?" Oh, we do, Jus.

*NSYNC or swim

Aside from their massive success outside the UK, the guys are fiercely proud of the fact that they are not just another manufactured boy band. "It's difficult when people just smile their way to the top," says JC. "They've got no talent and we've worked really hard to get where we are. That rubs us up the wrong way"

It's certainly true that the lads have had to claw their way up the fame ladder from pretty lowly beginnings. Red-haired Joey Fatone, 23, explains how he mat Chris Kirkpatrick, 28, more than eight years ago when they worked together at the Universal Studios theme park. Joey then hooked up with Justin and JC on The Mickey Mouse Club - Joey was an extra dancing on the closing credits - and then they got to know Lance through Justin's vocal coach.

After a chance meeting with the Backstreet Boy's manager, they were signed up as a fivesome in 1996, but it wasn't until 1998 that they hit the US charts. In other words, it's been a long hard slog and now *NSYNC intend to relish every minute of their success.

"We know several groups who'd been put together, told what to do, not to have a drink, not to have a girlfriend," says JC, sprawling out on the floor of the studio. "The record company tried to tell us not to have a drink in front of people and we were like, ' yeah, whatever'. We wouldn't listen"

Snogging (Kissing) Britney

They wouldn't listen about having girlfriends either - though happily, it sounds like there's hope for any girl hoping to bag an *NSYNC boy. "I do date," says Joey, "but I don't have anything 100% serious. When I go home I have a girl that I see, but it's not a huge thing"

JC is even more relaxed about it, "I have a girlfriend that I've been seeing for about a year-and-a- half. But it's hard, which is why it's not a proper relationship. We date other people too, and as long as we tell each other, that's our only rule"

Lance and Justin are single - hurrah! "I get saucy fanmail though," says Lance with a goofy grin. "Letters stuffed under my hotel door saying 'meet me in room 253' and that kind of stuff. Marriage proposals, invites to girls' proms."

And what's this massive rumour linking Justin to Britney? "Things have got a little out of hand with my personal life being in the tabloids" Justin smiles, peeling off his T-shirt to reveal an impressive six-pack. "So from now on I don't comment on who I'm dating or who I'm snogging. I could have said yes and I could have said no, but it doesn't matter because it all gets blown out of proportion anyway" Funny he doesn't just deny it, eh? But what about dating fans? Surely, if the right one came along..? JC's the only one to confess. "I did it for a while, but it gets kinda' boring" "My favourite thing is when girls totally beat around the bush and act like they don't know you," he laughs. "There was this one girl who was following me around a club all night. Then, about 20 minutes before the lights came on, she goes: ' oh, I feel so silly. I just realised who you are' And I was just like: 'Oh, it just hit you did it? Yeah, good one'".

Rock 'n' Roll

As well as liking the ladies, *NSYNC are self-confessed party fiends. "You went to three last weekend" JC reminds Chris. "Yeah, three in one night" he grins. "And on Superbowl weekend, I went out Thursday night and woke up Monday morning with a hangover" Woah, rock 'n' roll.

"When I go back home, I see my buddies all the time" adds Lance. "They all come over to my house, 'cause I've always got to have a party. My friends are crazy and like to party a little too much".

That said, they all steer clear of drugs. "We've seen what they've done to some of our friends," explains JC. "There's no way in hell you'd catch me in some club sniffing some shit that's gonna kill me... it's a waste"

So the band's fame isn't going to spiral out of control then? Chris insists not. "We got really big heads at one point," he reveals, "It had got to the stage in Germany where we'd just walk out in front of a crowd and they'd all go nuts. So we did this show where we only gave 50%. We were just eating up the applause and attention." He pauses before adding, "As soon as we got off, we realised what was happening. So we sat down, checked ourselves, and started over"

Now it's judgement day again. But, with an attitude like theirs, you just know that *NSYNC are going to be huge over here too - even if we still don't get the hair!