Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”
Your favorite boy bands are gathering in Bethesda, Maryland, to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival.
Members of *NSYNC, LFO, O-Town and 98 Degrees will visit Westfield Montgomery for the “Y2K Pink Party” Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. Tickets are still available online, and visitors are encouraged to wear their best cherry blossom pink attire to the free concert.
Interfaith Works will collect new or lightly used spring and summer gear for families in need, while American Eagle will collect old jeans for insulating homes and L’Occitane will collect beauty product bottles for recycling.
“It’s just always a lot of fun, and it’s great to get out and see the fans,” Chris Kirkpatrick of NSYNC told WTOP. “It’s funny how it’s shifted from back in the day the kids dragging their parents to our shows and now the parents dragging their kids to our shows, but that’s the evolution of getting old I guess. … It’s just very nostalgic.”
Born in Pennsylvania in 1971, Kirkpatrick lived with his mother and attended high school in Ohio before moving to Orlando to live with his father during college. While in Florida, he met musician Charlie Edwards, who had quit an early iteration of The Backstreet Boys and who introduced him to record producer Lou Pearlman.
“Lou was looking for a band,” Kirkpatrick said. “I was like, ‘Pick me, I do these quartets all the time.’ I brought him a couple of quartets that he didn’t like, then finally found the right group of guys that he liked and got signed.”
The group’s standout leaders, Justin Timberlake and J.C. Chasez, were instantly apparent.
“When I first met [Justin] when he was 14, I was like, ‘This kid’s a star,'” Kirkpatrick said. “Right away he brought in J.C., so he could continue on with J.C., same thing with him. They both beat out so many kids to be on ‘The Mickey Mouse Club,’ so they had to have some kind of talent and you can see it. They can act, they can sing, they can dance, they’re performers, but mostly amazing vocalists. The two of them are just absolutely amazing vocalists.”
Rounding out the group were Joey Fatone, Lance Bass and Kirkpatrick himself.
“Joey’s a ham, that’s what he brings to the group, he brings this personality,” Kirkpatrick said. “Lance had this voice, it was just so low. We needed that bass voice. … [For me], being the best looking in the band was difficult. It was a burden. … No, on a serious note, it was mostly my high register. It was a very distinct sound, so when you got the five of us together, you could hear the sounds in there and it just added to the mix.”
The group’s self-titled debut album “*NSYNC” (1997) was a smash success, featuring the hit ballad “(God Must Have Spent) A Little More Time On You” and upbeat pop bangers from “I Want You Back” to “Tearin’ Up My Heart.”
“We had two or three tours in Europe before we broke the States,” Kirkpatrick said. “‘I Want You Back’ was the first one we recorded in Europe. … It was really cool to finally have a song we wanted to listen to over and over, not these cheesy ones we were doing. We weren’t really a ballad-type group, we liked dancing, performing, high-energy songs, so when those two came out it was different for us and we knew what type of band we would be.”
They followed up with the festive album “Home for Christmas” (1998), harmonizing on classics like “The First Noel” and “O Holy Night,” as well as the catchy original tune “Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays.”
“That Christmas album was thrown together pretty quick, we probably recorded the whole thing in less than two weeks,” Kirkpatrick said. “Just throwing our spin on there, the a cappella, range and vocals that we did on stuff, it was a really special record. J.C. wrote that song and it’s cool to hear that song again when other people cover it because it’s like, ‘Wow, we have a Christmas song that’s now becoming a standard that other people cover!'”
Their next studio album “No Strings Attached” (2000) was even bigger than the first, boasting a marionette CD cover. It featured the pop ballad “This I Promise You,” the meme-inspiring “It’s Gonna Be Me,” and the iconic dance craze of “Bye Bye Bye,” featuring the guys waving goodbye, pumping fists in the air and stomping the ground.
“Over time, it’s probably why I threw my rotator cuff out,” Kirkpatrick said. “I knew that song was special. … It just kind of changed music a bit. It was really one of those things where after that song I started calling what we were doing not pop music but ‘dirty pop.’ It’s a little meaner than normal pop. It’s still bubble-gummy pop, but it’s not your parents’ bubble-gum pop. It was a little bit meaner. That’s what ‘Bye Bye Bye’ encompassed.”
They went out with a bag on their final album “Celebrity” (2001) with hits like “Pop,” “Gone” and “Girlfriend.”
“It wasn’t something that we recorded going, ‘Man, this was a fun ride,’ we were kind of still going and moving,” Kirkpatrick said. “Me more than anyone was really pushing to keep everything on pace and put out another record and keep working, but it just wasn’t in the cards.”
The band soon disbanded as Timberlake broke off into massive solo success on “Justified” (2002) with hits like “Cry Me a River” and “Rock Your Body,” while Kirkpatrick made appearances on “Celebrity Big Brother” and “The Masked Singer.” Today, he’s made peace with Eminem, who sang, “Chris Kirkpatrick you can get your ass kicked.”
“That to me is the most flattering thing,” Kirkpatrick said. “That goes up there with ‘The Simpsons’ and things in your life that have happened. If that’s the case, I’d like to get him mad again so he puts me in another song!”
Hear our full conversation on my podcast “Beyond the Fame.”
Get breaking news and daily headlines delivered to your email inbox by signing up here.
© 2023 WTOP. All Rights Reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.