On Oct. 1, 1995, Lance Bass became the fifth and final member to join *NSYNC, forming what would become a boy band for the ages. Twenty years later, the date is still recognized as *NSYNC Day, a celebration of the group’s official beginnings.
EW caught up with Bass on this year’s day of honor, looking back on that first October he spent as a part of the group. On the phone from New York City, where he serves as a panelist on The Meredith Vieira Show when he’s not recording his SiriusXM radio program “Dirty Pop,” Bass talked linking up with JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Justin Timberlake, and revealed what’s in store for the boy banders in the future.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: That date was because of you. What do you remember about Oct. 1, 1995?
It changed my life. I was 16 at the time, I was a junior in high school. I was the vice president of my class, so I was in charge of the homecoming parade and our float, so all I was caring about was our float that we had to work on and then the homecoming dance. Of course when you’re a teenager, that’s your life.
When Justin [Timberlake] called me and said, “Hey, we’re putting a group together, we’d love you to come down to Orlando and meet the guys and sing in this group,” I didn’t think it was real at all, [but] I left the homecoming dance early so I could go to bed early and leave early the next morning for Orlando. When I met the guys, Justin picked me up at the airport with [former *NSYNC manager] Lou Pearlman in his Rolls Royce, and of course, I’d never seen a Rolls Royce before in my life. When we all sang together, I mean, I just got goosebumps. It was just this magical sound and I looked at my parents, I’m like, “I don’t think I’m going back to Mississippi.”
So your parents went out with you?
They did! I was 16, I’d never been on a plane before, so they definitely escorted me down to Orlando. I was just excited cause I thought we might get to go to Disneyworld, which we did get to do.
I never thought it would be as big as it got. Coming from a small town, you know, you think very small, so my biggest [dream] for us, was just being hired to sing as an a cappella group at Disneyworld. That was the biggest dream I ever had at that moment.
*NSYNC’s first performance was just three weeks later. How did that first month go?
When we first started rehearsing, we didn’t really have much music. We were definitely more of an a cappella band. Then the guys were like, “Hey, we’re going to dance rehearsals,” and I had no idea that the guys wanted to dance as a group. I was not a dancer at all. They had to teach me how to dance and we had a show in three weeks. I’d just met the guys and we’re gonna have our first concert? It was very nerve-wracking. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.
Our first performance was at Pleasure Island. We were recording it because Lou Pearlman wanted to get our reel together so we could send it to all of the record labels to get a deal. We cut a nice four-to-five song set together and it was so cheesy. I’m looking back at it now and it was just so awful! There was about maybe 100 to 200 kids out in the audience because, of course, JC and Justin were on the Mickey Mouse Club. The Mickey Mouse fans came out to support us. I remember Chris was throwing up on the first day cause he was so nervous. We didn’t know what we were doing at the time, but I was having the time of my life.
You had to change your name slightly to Lanceton to get the gig. Did anyone ever actually call you Lanceton?
Yeah, for a little while! I replaced a member Jason, that was one of Joey’s best friends. Jason didn’t want to do the group cause he didn’t want teenagers as his market. So that’s when last minute, Justin called. They did call me Lanceton for a good year, just basically as a joke. I think it was Justin who first was like, “Okay, Lanceton.” Then it kinda faded out once we got a deal and then came out. It didn’t stick very long. It was either Lanceton or Landon.
When did you know that *NSYNC had made it?
We were a German band the first two years for our career and immediately in Germany we were an overnight sensation. It was crazy because we would have thousands of fans chasing us down the street and we’d be on the cover of every magazine, but we would come back home to America and no one knew who we were at all. It was just this weird double life we were living, it was kind of like Hannah Montana. The only time it felt real was when we did Rosie O’Donnell. It took us a while for Rosie to put us on the show. We were doing Jay Leno and all these other shows, so we were pretty successful with the first album, but it wasn’t until I did Rosie O’Donnell that I realized, “Oh my gosh, we made it.” I was obsessed with her show, it was my favorite show. Finally, she invited us on and I was like, “We’ve made it.'”
When you guys went on hiatus in 2002, did you think you were going to get back together, or did you know that was it?
Oh, no, I was planning on it. I was already writing for the new album for a good year. I was excited cause I didn’t get to write too much on the previous albums. I wanted to really take a crack at writing. I went to Nashville and wrote with some of the most famous writers and had a blast doing that. We totally thought we were gonna do another album. Plans start changing in everyone’s lives.
Justin’s career was just taking off. He had no idea that it was gonna be a success like that – no one did. It just wouldn’t stop, so it just didn’t make sense for us to do another album as long as he was doing so well. As you can tell, he hasn’t stopped yet. There was no room for an *NSYNC album.
Will there be room for another *NSYNC album in the future?
I mean, who knows? We’re all brothers and we will be brothers the rest of our lives. It just depends on if we all get in the mood. You go through something like that, you’re family.
We love each other like brothers, we hate each other like brothers, every emotion comes out with your family members. It’s great. I love that they’re gonna be in my life the rest of my life. It’s so funny to see everyone grown up now – Justin having a kid! It’s so crazy cause I still look at them as teenagers. We still have not grown up.