NSYNC’s Joey Fatone Hilariously Breaks Down the Boy Band Dynamic

Justin had the looks, Lance had the eyes; Chris was funny and JC had the sweet voice. As for Joey? "For me, it was always, 'my mom loves you.'"

Joey Fatone11th Annual Leather & Laces party, New York, America - 31 Jan 2014
Kristina Bumphrey/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

*NSYNC is receiving its star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame today (April 30), joining fellow boy bands Backstreet Boys, Boyz II Men, New Kids on the Block, and New Edition on Hollywood Boulevard.

Ahead of the ceremony, Variety caught up with Joey Fatone, today an in-demand onscreen host, to talk about the dynamics of boy bands. and having found a permanent place in Hollywood alongside group members Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Lance Bass and Chris Kirkpatrick.

Variety: Twitter didn’t exist when you guys were starting out in Europe, but if it had, what kind of high jinks would it have turned up?
Joey Fatone: We did try to keep a wholesome image, but no one was telling us you shouldn’t do this or that.But there were times when you want to let loose. I was about 19, 20 years old going out in Germany, Switzerland and it was like, hell, there’s places we can go. There were a few times me and Chris ran around and caused some havoc, and JC came around every once in a while too. As Justin and Lance got older, slowly they came around to going out. We were kids, we had fun, it was one of the craziest things. People always tell you to go to college, get a job, make sure you save money so you can have a family or have a little nest egg, and all that stuff literally went out the window when we went to Germany.

You were, for a time, the MC of the group, introducing all the songs in the Disney concert special, for example….
Maybe that was foreshadowing what I would do later on, as far as hosting [television shows]. For some reason, I was always appointed that role.

That brings to mind all the different personalities of the group. How would you describe the dynamic between the five of you?
When we did autograph signings, it was really funny. It was literally, like: “Justin, oh my God! I love your voice. I think you’re amazing, I want to marry you…” Then you go to Lance and hear, “Oh my God, your eyes are so beautiful, I love your deep voice.” … JC: “Oh my God, JC, you have one of the most amazing voices!” “Oh my God Chris, you’re crazy, I love how funny you are!” And then they go, “Joey, oh my God, my mom loves you and wants to cook you dinner.” For me, it was always “my mom loves you.”

What was your experience like during those first couple years of success in the U.S.?
It was just weird. It was like a roller-coaster ride — let’s ride the wave and see what happens. We had a Christmas album out, we were touring, we also shot a Christmas special on Fox at that time. It’s amazing to see the calendars from when we toured in Germany and in America. I still have a lot of them, and you would look at the days and it would never stop. It was literally photo shoot after photo shoot, recording session; video shoot; Janet Jackson is being named an “Icon” and we’d love for you to record the vocals and shoot a video shoot a video for ‘That’s The Way Love Goes” in the same day.  And it’s, like, let’s go! That’s the only time we had. So we were literally just rushing the clock. It’s pretty amazing the work ethic we had, and what a train it was. Sometimes it was exhausting but we loved doing it. There was never a dull moment.

How did the madness of “No Strings Attached” feel for you?
It was so surreal. It felt like it wasn’t real — like someone was pulling my leg, or some anonymous person bought millions and millions of albums. It was pretty amazing to see we’d actually broken a record. I know Adele beat us, but legit tangible albums were actually sold when we did it — it wasn’t on Spotify; it wasn’t a download. Someone had to physically go to the store and buy the actual album because back then there was no Napster, of even iTunes really. So it was interesting to see for us.

You really got a sense of how many *NSYNC fans there were via “Total Request Live” on MTV…
It got to be more and more people, more and more crazy… [MTV] almost started saying we can’t do it anymore, because the fans would go crazy from the window and maybe get hit by a car or some crazy shit. …But it was interesting with “TRL” how it really catapulted everybody’s career at that time. When you had Diddy, JLo, Goo Goo Dolls, Destiny’s Child, ourselves, Backstreet, Spice Girls, Hanson… You had totally different groups out there supported each other but then didn’t support each other. It was like, I love the music but we’ve got to look out for ourselves, for our group, we’ve got to be bigger than them. It was more of a tongue-in-cheek playful thing … we wanted to be No. 1 every week, so what can we do? It was a good marriage for MTV.

Did appearing in Lance’s movie “On the Line” get you thinking about acting or other screen role? 
Yeah, our Oscar award-winning “On the Line.” [Laughs] Me and Lance had a lot of fun. It was our first time doing something outside of *NSYNC, and kind of got us bitten by the little bug as far as producing and wanting to do more film. It was definitely a learning experience. My hair was absolutely horrible, they colored it like calico cat color. You can see during the ‘Celebrity’ photos that I have that hair — and I wish I didn’t.

You’ve since become an in-demand television host…
I always just loved entertaining and  performing. After *NSYNC, there was a sense of, what do you do? I did take a break for a little, then after a while, I was, like, I have to do something! You’re used to going at the speed of light and constantly grinding. So “Rent” came around and I always wanted to do Broadway; I did “Little Shop of Horrors;” Then came ‘Dancing with the Stars’ came. I was like, why would anybody want to see me dance? But they were persistent and I agreed to do season 4, which had 22 million viewers; Then I started getting calls to host stuff — a show called “The Singing Bee,” another called “Parents Just Don’t Understand.” … It was completely different and people were seeing more of my personality as opposed to just being one of the guys from *NSYNC. And there’s nothing wrong with being one of the guys from *NSYNC but people started to finally see that’s Joey Fatone, he’s a real personality, a host, an actor, a singer. So far, everything I’ve done no one has told me I sucked, which is great. As long as I don’t have that, I think I’m good.