NSYNC going urban


NSYNC plans to further urbanize their wildly successful pop sound.

The Florida fivesome's juggernaut No Strings Attached might be this year's highest-selling album, but they're already looking ahead to their next record.

It will have a new sound and come out in the spring, NSYNC's Lance Bass told The Sun yesterday during an exclusive newspaper interview backstage at the SkyDome.

"This next album will be totally written by us and co-written with us with lots of different people like (R&B hitmaker) She'kspere and even Brian McKnight," said Bass, with opening act and country crooner Meredith Edwards at his side.

"We like the sound we have now. That kind of rocked-out, urban-type pop. I think it'll go more the urban side like (No Strings songs) It Makes Me Ill or Bye, Bye, Bye or It's Gonna Be Me, that type of sound. But it's definitely going to be more rocked-out."

Given No Strings' phenomenal success -- in March, it set a first-week sales record of 2.5 million in North America -- NSYNC could definitely hold off on making new music. But Bass, speaking just hours before the group's second sold-out show at the SkyDome last night, said that's not the group's style.

"We just wanted to go ahead and put out something new. Our fans just go through music like anything. But we want to put out the first single, like early March, and then have the album come out April-May."

Speaking of new sounds, Bass hopes to produce or write some of the material on Edwards' next album. Her major label debut, on Mercury Nashville, is due in March.

"Definitely," said Bass, who made Edwards the first signing on his management company, Freelance Entertainment. "It's just we did not have any time. We were right in the middle of this tour and I know (NSYNC members) JC and Justin had written songs for her. And plus, the album, it's finished right now, but if there happens to be a great song that we write and I want to produce, it could definitely go on that one. We have plenty of time."

In case you're wondering about the Bass-Edwards connection, the two singers both hail from Clinton, Miss. They met in the early 1990s when they were both in a singing troupe.

"I've always wanted to work with her and I thought she had what it took to be this huge solo artist," Bass said.

When it came time to sign her, Edwards didn't believe him.

"I didn't think he was serious. I was like, 'Okay.' He was like 18. I was like, 'Yeah, right!' "

Edwards, who describes her sound as "contemporary country," as opposed to the pop-infused "new country," says opening 10 times for NSYNC has been a great opportunity to get some serious exposure.

And, no, NSYNC's predominantly teenage female base hasn't been booing her off.

"They've actually been really receptive about it," Edwards said. "I don't know why. I'm just really lucky about that."

Next up for NSYNC, who will film a Budweiser-sponsored, anti-underage drinking PSA in Toronto today for broadcast during the Super Bowl, is an hour-long Christmas special airing on FOX and ONtv on Nov. 30. The band taped it in their home base of Orlando, Fla., at Universal Studios.

"We wanted something different for Christmas," Bass said. "And we took a lot of our songs and just remixed them totally, and did like an unplugged version. We're just sitting on our stools in this circus tent with a great audience and our band and we got some horns. We got all kinds of instruments, and it was really a big jam session."

Following that, NSYNC will appear on the Billboard Awards on Dec. 5 and act as presenters on the American Music Awards on Jan. 8. They'll also no doubt be a major presence at the Grammys on Feb. 21.

"I think we're performing at the Grammys this year, so that'll be very nice," said Bass, who isn't expecting anything in the way of nominations, which will be announced Jan. 3.

"You never know with Grammys. I mean, Grammys is just a whole different ball game. It doesn't matter that your album's the biggest album of the year. We could go with zero nominations."