“Justin was nervous and antsy, wanting to get down and record right away whereas the other boys were joking around and not in a hurry,” says Roche, who produced NSA’s “That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You.” “Justin was the uptight one. Even in those days, he wanted to get going and was pushing the others to do their work. He was like the boss. The leader. It’s pretty obvious why he was so successful.”
Musician Alex Greggs meanwhile recalls a more low-key Timberlake during his first meeting with the group at their manager Johnny Wright’s office in Orlando, Florida. Greggs and his late producing partner, Brad Daymond, had released remixes of previous hits like “Tearin’ Up My Heart,” which caught Chasez’s attention and led to the duo working on NSA.
He’s really talented, but they all are
“They were all very quiet,” Greggs says of his first impressions of the quintet. “I think they were so used to producers being the big people in the room. Then as time goes on, it changes and they walk into the room and the producers are the ones going, ‘Alright, the big guys are here!’ But in that beginning stage, it was cool because we got to do things with them that we wouldn’t have if they’d already been established. They were very receptive to everything we asked.”
“At first it I thought it was obviously JC who was the big star,” Greggs adds. “Then, within a week, I figured it would be both of them, and that Justin was going to be a great total act as well. I think everyone realized Justin was going to come out larger than life. It didn’t happen with JC, but that was more because of a bunch of things that didn’t go right with his [solo] record.”
Music legend Diane Warren agrees that Chasez, too, had the makings of a powerful solo artist. Warren wrote the NSA track “That’s When I’ll Stop Loving You.” She had previously penned the band’s Gloria Estefan collaboration, “Music of My Heart,” and was in the studio for both recording sessions.
“Both Justin and JC [stood out],” she says. “Justin may have become a bigger solo star, but I think JC’s a really great singer too. “
“No Strings Attached” sold more than 2.4 million copies in its first week, breaking a record previously held by the Backstreet Boys’ 1999 release “Millennium.” (Adele took the title in 2015 with her 3.38 million first-week sales for “25.”) *NSYNC followed up the the album with 2001’s “Celebrity,” then in 2002 announced a hiatus.
Timberlake wasted no time exploring his talents outside of the group, releasing his solo debut “Justified” in 2002 months after the group announced their break. At the time, he told the New York Times, there was “no reason my solo career and *NSYNC can’t coexist,” however it soon became apparent that *NSYNC wouldn’t be reconvening. In fact, the five have only reunited onstage once to honor, you guessed it, Timberlake at the MTV Video Music Awards in 2013. The group received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in .
Timberlake has in the years between carved at a phenomenal career of his own. He has won 10 GRAMMY awards, four Emmys and sold more than 32 million solo albums. He has also pursued business and charitable ventures and released a book. On Friday, he was featured on Bass’ podcast, “The Daily Popcast With Lance Bass,” for a rare interview about his time with the group and the NSA era.