24 Hours -- Part Six

Iím not too sure I like the idea of someone sitting behind me while Iím in this interview.   I never liked it when I had to sit up front and Lance and Chris would sit behind me or Joey or even JCóheís the sneakiest of them all. While Chris is a total physical comedian, JC has a talent for poking you in the back and looking completely innocent on camera. Iíve spent more than a few days trying to figure out how he does it, but Iíve never come up with his secret.

Logically, I should trust the radio station with my safety, but the idea of having fans standing behind me where I canít see them leaves me feeling like I need to turn around all the time. Tiny sees this. I can see the recognition in his eyes of the issue, but the room is too small for him to stand behind me and Iíd feel like an ass if I told someone to move away from me because I felt that way. It sucks to not be able to voice your opinion on things because youíre afraid of peopleís reactions. I think if I wasnít famous Iíd be a lot less stressed out for the pure fact that normal people can say anything and get away with about ninety-five percent of it as where I can only say a limited amount of things and ninety-five percent of what I say is analyzed by Rolling Stone Magazine, People Magazine and every other popular publication in the United States and hell letís throw in the world there for good measure.

To calm myself I take deep breaths, put on my headphones and ask for a bottle of water. I donít know when Iíll get to pee today, but I know that if I donít have something around me, some prop, if you might call it that, in my hands to keep me entertained I know Iíll go nuts. Right now I feel like Chris hyped up on about fifteen Pixie Stix. Everyone always asks me about that whole REEL NSYNC scene where we down Pixie Stix in the airport. We lived on those things for so long when we first started out, but now I wouldnít touch one with a ten foot pole, unless I didnít have Kool-Aid around and needed something to drink, then Iíd pop open a few and add water and have the nectar of the Gods. Blue Raspberry is my favorite these days. Those ten cent packs of Kool-Aid from Albertsonís really can save a guy a lot of time and trouble when looking for a non-alcoholic drinkóor even an alcoholic one. Vodka is the best invention on earth. The thought of those things makes me smile and a girl standing behind the DJ catches my eye and smiles. If I wasnít working I might flirt a little more than I do, but itís not professional to make eyes at a fan that waves to you while youíre being interviewed on a radio station that has a few hundred thousand listeners. She waves while I keep my eyes on her. I wink back and then turn to look out the window suddenly wondering when Vivian will show up with my breakfast. Coffee on an empty stomach sucks ass.

I take a drink of water and thatís when it happens. At first it feels like maybe just my jacket poking into my neck, but soon I find little fingers touching my neck. It makes me jump and I completely lose my concentration. ďWhat the fuck?Ē I say in a voice that clearly stuns everyone in the room. I can hear the silence, but ignore it, even though I glance up for a moment and see the interviewer staring at me. I know I shouldnít swear in public, but the bad habit is hard to get past. I turn around batting my hand at my neck. At this point I think that maybe someone has put something on me or a spider or ants or any number of disgusting things like that are crawling on me.

When I turn around I find the culprit of the intrusion. A smallish sixteen-year-old girl is standing behind me now with her hand clamped over her mouth and tears in her eyes. I donít know when Tiny got over to stand behind me, but heís now looking down at her like sheís a freaking cheeseburger and he hasnít eaten for days.

I lean over and pull at Tiny's jacket.   "T.  Come on man."

Tiny doesn't say anything and I know he's pissed.  He's not upset with the girl at all.  For him it's all internal.  It's strange to have him be this way, but I know he's upset because he didn't catch the girl before she did what she did.  He doesn't think of things as little.  In his eyes nothing is little.  I think that's why we started calling him Tiny in the first place, but everything has morphed so much that it kind of all gets lost in the amazing amounts of time we've spent with our guards.

My adrenaline is high right now.  I try to pull him away from the girl and he doesn't budge so I get up and stand between them.  He's like a pit bull in that aspect.  It's great when we talk about all this stuff in security meetings, but in reality sometimes the way in which he works gets in the way of living my life.  I feel the tension in Tiny's glare and I know that before the day is through one of us is going to slam out fist into a wall.  Dealing with fans on this kind of level is draining and everyone's patience is lost easily.  My hands pull at his shoulder and I try to laugh this off, but it's not working.

I probably can't hold him back from doing whatever he's gonna do.  I know that and the girl seems to know that, but there is that gleam in her eyes that makes me her knight in shining armor.

Tiny's face twitches and I know why he's my guard.  It suddenly turns into a joke between us, but we aren't going to let the girl in on our joke...at least for the moment.  Some things are sacred and the inside jokes we share are on the short list of things that only the "insiders" know.

Tiny starts towards her and I totally become a cartoon superhero.  I over eggagerate the amount of force I need to use to keep Tiny back and finally turn my head to get some other fans to help me push.  They join in and soon we're all laughing.  Tiny finally backs down and finds his seat again and I find mine.

"Are you ready?" The interviewer asks.  I keep thinking of them as an interviewer because normally I'd be talking to Angie Martinez but since she's not here they have some other DJ, probably a new one, filing in.

I grab up my water and take a drink and listen to the DJ introduce the section.  The girls behind me are still whispering, but soon the DJ makes a motion to get them to stop.

I, being the ass that I am and wanting to have a little fun this morning, turn around and mock the DJ by making a shhh noise.

The DJ's voice fills my ears.  "Ladies...that was Justin Timberlake shhushing the fans we have here in the studio."

I close my eyes for a moment and remember that I have a microphone stuck onto my headset.  "Sorry about that," I say in the lightest voice I can muster up.  "I know that they were the lucky ones that got a seat behind me here in the studio...but I don't want anyone else out there to miss out on the fun because blondie over here is laughing."  I laugh and tug the girl over and take off my headset.  Holding the microphone up to my mouth I keep talking.  "Tell them what you did."

"I...Umm--"  Her eyes go wide and she looks at me.  "I um...I tried to take some lint off your jacket and I almost got smushed by a bodyguard."

"HEY!"  Tiny yells from the other side of the tiny room.  "I didn't smush her!"

"Yeah," I say and puff out my chest a little.  "Because I saved her."

The DJ laughs along with us for a moment then gets the interview back on track.  "It was hilarious ladies and gentleman.  Imagine a smuft going up against The Rock for WWE."

"HEY!" I say totally playing along with him.  "I'm not a smurf!!!"

"I like smurfs," the girl next to me says.

The DJ motions for her to say it into the microphone so I move mine over for her to use.  "I like Smurfs," she repeats.

"That's just great," I laugh.  "I'm a singing dancing smurf."

The DJ laughs.  "You're Brillo smurf."

This is when I start to despise the fact that I'm on the radio and I can't just say anything to anyone again.  I want to knock the hell out of the guy for making fun of me.  Everyone knows that people have been calling me Brillo head forever.  "Yeah," I say, "Right."  I let the girl go and kind of push her back towards her friends then take a deep breath.  "So how about those questions?"

"Ok."  The DJ pulls something up on his computer and then looks at me with this huge smile on his face.  " So what does it feel like to perform without the other boys and do you know what they think of your solo music?"

I roll my eyes at the term boys and try not to reach out and hit the guy.  I would hope that at this level of the game that they'd get a professional in here to talk, but it looks like that idea is out the window.

"A double question!"  I try to laugh off the fact that people always do that to me.  They want one question answered but they ask two instead.  "It is weird and very different."  I try not to think about this too much so I have a hard time getting the words out.  Yes I have back up dancers, but I haven't worked with them long enough to know where they are going to go in relation to where I go when on stage.  "I look around and there's not four people around me anymore. Then I had to realize there were dancers behind me and that they don't have to sing. They get paid to dance and they're really good at it."  I hate myself for saying that.  I feel like I'm kissing their asses now.  Of course they're good or they wouldn't be working with me...and that's not a personal choice...too many people have their hands in my career to let some novice on the stage with me.  "So, I had to step up my game a lot. Before, if I was slacking slightly I could just say 'But man I'm trying to sing!' Now I have to be able to keep up with them."  I don't mention that usually I'm the one in the studio longer than they are trying to make my moves my own versus the way that the others do theirs.  "I'm having a good time though."

"That's good to hear," the DJ says.  He moves a little and then introduces another song.

As the song comes on I start to sing along.  I figure I might as well, everyone else in the whole room is doing it.

Every day is so wonderful
And suddenly, it's hard to breathe
Now and then, I get insecure
From all the pain, I'm so ashamed

I am beautiful no matter what they say
Words can't bring me down
I am beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can't bring me down
So don't you bring me down today

To all your friends, you're delirious
So consumed in all your doom
Trying hard to fill the emptiness
The piece is gone and the puzzle undone
That's the way it is

You are beautiful no matter what they say
Words can't bring you down
You are beautiful in every single way
Yes, words can't bring you down
So don't you bring me down today...

A girl across the room says loudly.  "You know her song?"

"Why wouldn't I?" I ask.  "I may be busy, but I don't live under a rock."

"I just thought that you wouldn't like her--"  She stops for a moment.  "Because of--"

I roll my eyes.  "Music is music girl."

The DJ comes back from the song and starts to ask more questions.

"What do the other guys think of your music?"

This is the biggest question of the day.  I know this has been coming and I don't know if I should say the real thing or if I should say the PC answer.  I shrug and decide to take the easy road.  "Chris has heard a lot and loves it. They've all been very supportive."  Chris would be supportive of anything musical that I did even if it sounded like crap.

"Do you think they would tell you if they didn't like it and would you tell them?"

"Yeah."  I look around at the girls in the studio and notice that there aren't really that many of them there.  I could easily make eye contact with them all through the show and do a little schmoozing with them.  It wouldn't hurt the album to flirt a little.  "And I would tell them. I'd jump at the opportunity!"

"Do you prefer being a solo singer to being in a group?"

DAMN.  I didn't want to deal with this today, but I knew that it was coming.  I take a deep breath and look at the desktop in front of me for a moment so I can collect my thoughts.  What I'm about to say could easily hurt everyone I know and could easily damage much of the success I've had with the single so far.  "They're both completely different things, so I don't see why the two can't co-exist."

The girls seem pleased with my answer and I sigh a sigh of relief.

"What's your favorite track on the new album Justified and will you be touring?"

Another tough one.  If I pick a favorite, the marketing people, especially Dale Gilford, my marketing rep at Jive, might have kittens.  We've gone over this question a million times and while I would love to say that I like Never Again the best because it's the rawest I've ever sung yet, I know that I can't.  That's not even due to be a single at this point.  "It's so hard to pick your favorite song. As a songwriter the tracks are like your children, you love them all the same. As for a tour, I'll be doing a world tour, so I'll definitely be all over the place."

"Ok.  We have a question from one of our winners," the interviewer says.

A girl walks up to his side of the room.  "If you were stranded on a desert island and could only take one member of *NSYNC with you, who would it be?"

"Probably Chris,"  I could tell a million stories of why exactly I'd pick him, but I know that he'd go to the end of the world to help him and he'd do the same to me.  "I just think he would survive. Yeah, I'll stick with him, he's a tough cookie."

The interviewer laughs.  "What about Joey, there's more of him to eat if things get out of hand?"

I laugh and look away from the girl and close my eyes for a moment.  "Yeah, but there's such a difference between protein and gristle!"

Everyone in the room laughs their heads off and the girls seem to come towards me, but I think I'm just paranoid at this point.

The next girl in line steps up to the microphone.  "Who were your influences when you were younger?

"His Mom!" someone behind me yells.

I blush a little.  I can feel it and I can see someone across the room whispering about it.  It's my classic tried and true answer.  I can't deny it.  They've been through all of my ups and downs and sideways and really have made my life possible to be the way it is.

"Oh man! The biggest influence in my life obviously were my parents, my dad particularly. Probably the most non-musical influence on me was Michael Jordan. When I watched him win those championships, his determination was overwhelming. I'm such a big sports fan and fan of his."

"What about music wise?" the interviewer asks.

I can't remember this guy's name for the life of me.  It worries me that it's this early in the day and I can't remember, but it doesn't seem to matter as I answer.  "As far as music is concerned; Michael Jackson, Prince, Stevie Wonder's had a huge influence on me, Donnie Hathaway, Marvin Gaye, Al Green, the list goes on and on--"

"How many of them have you got to meet?"

"In Tennessee, I live down the street from Al Green, who I bump into sometimes. I've worked with Stevie Wonder, which is incredible."  I could name a different million reasons why, but it's hard to describe what that whole experience was like.  Sometimes I still can't believe it happened.  I mean me and Stevie?  It's not something that anyone could have predicted.  "Of course, I've met Michael. But Marvin Gaye and Donnie Hathaway are impossible to meet until the afterlife."

"With all the comparisons between you and Michael Jackson, do you worry that people are going to expect you to live up to his standards?"

"I think any artist takes something from their influences and then makes it their own. I agree, I think the song is mixture of Michael and Prince...two huge influences on me. It's very flattering to be compared to someone who you think is a legend. At the same time, no one will ever be another Michael Jackson--"

"Well, maybe Latoya will one day!"

I laugh at this because I know it's the expected thing to do, but it's not that funny.  "You know you can't put a scale on something that's already been a phenomenon. I think as time goes by, people will see who I am."

"That seems to be a good way to end this section of our program.  I know that Justin has other things to get off to and we need to do some station business too.  It's been a pleasure Justin."

"Thanks," I say not knowing what else to do.

When I look up Vivian is in the hallway.  She has a bag in her hand and a smile on her face.  Tiny seems to see this and sigh knowing that I'd be bitching about it if I didn't eat soon.

I say my goodbyes, pose for a few pictures then leave the station and head back to the car.

"Here's breakfast," Vivian says handing me a bag and a drink.  I open the bag and look inside.  "What is this?" I ask.

She smiles one of those almost wicked smiles and keeps her eyes on the bag.  "Just open it in the car and you'll see."

In the car I get comfortable and then open the bag.  What I find is a bannana and then a small plastic container about the size of a cheeseburger.  I open it up and find myself faced with something that definitely isn't a turn over.  "What is this?" I ask as peach hits my nose.

"Take a bite," she says and dials her phone.

"Is this what I think it is?"

"Maybe," Vivian says.  "Hello Maxine.  I have Justin here in a few moments for you to talk to.  He's just finishing up a bite of breakfast."

I take a bite of the desert looking thing in the container and know instantly that my day will get worse from here.  It's peach cobbler.  I don't know how she smuggled it to me, but I know that my day must be insane if she's bribing me with grandma's cooking.

Vivian holds her had to the phone for a moment.  "I gave the cook at P. Diddy's place Justin's a call and he made it for you.  I had the rest sent up to your room so you can have it later."

"I love you," I say instantly licking my lips and taking a swig of water.  I reach into my pocket and see that I now have five messages then hold it in one hand as I finish eating my bite and get ready for my interview.  "For the moment anyway."  I look at the phone.  "Who is this?"

"It's Rosie Magazine," she says and hands the phone to me, taking my bottle of water from me.

Hot 97 interview actually came from :  http://www.bbc.co.uk/totp/artists/t/timberlake_justin/underthegrill/page1.shtml

The song Justin sings in the HoT 97 interview section is:  http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/SongUnid/34D996F12E37245948256C5900291E38