I haven't a clue where we're going and my mind slips to wondering about that as I'm asked the same questions over and over again. Do they understand how annoying it is to answer the same stuff over and over? I wish I could just do one big press conference and have everyone there. They'd never go for it though. They all want their little exclusive even though even an exclusive anymore isn't that exclusive.
"Where did the title of your new CD, Justified, come from?" she asks this with a very polite tone as if she's bothering me to ask it.
Thank God. A new question! I smile out the window and people watch as I answer. New York at this point of the day looks the same wherever I am. People are all on their way to work. I imagine myself sometimes as a business man, but I never think I could be stuck in an office for more than a few days in a row. Right now I'm never in one city more than a few days. Except for this summer when I had the flu and stayed in Orlando for ten days because I couldn't travel, I've been in at least five cities every two weeks since I was fifteen.
"Well, one of my dancers during rehearsal one day came up to me and said 'Justified' and I asked 'Why that?' and he said 'Well it seems like every time you do something, you always have a reason, you're justified!' I liked it, it had a nice ring to it." It's not a truthful answer, but it leaves me being the total package when I'm done.
"Do you have a favorite song on your new CD?"
"Well, Senorita was fun to sing, but I guess I don't really have a favorite." I smile thinking of making that one. That was a good day definitely. "When you write a bunch of songs they're like your babies. You don't pick favorites.
"Did you write most of your songs?"
I roll my eyes,
clearly someone didn't do their research or the person on the end of this phone
clearly isn't prepared to talk to me right now. "Yeah, I wrote all of them."
"Yeah," I say. "I wrote a lot on the last NSYNC album too."
My eyes go to the list of calls that are showing up on my phone and I see that three are from LA and two are from Memphis which means Mom or Dad are trying to call me.
"So what was it like working on your first solo album?"
"It was fun!"
I put my phone away into my pocket again and move my watch around on my wrist
before my hand slides over my eyes for a moment and strain to sound excited. I'm
starting to hit the wall. I need more caffeine or something to get me
going again. Food would be nice, but I can't talk and eat. I rub my eyebrows back and forth
then wipe a hand over my chin. I'm going to need to shave sometime this
morning before I go on camera. "At first I was a little nervous about how the sound
would come out, but once we did the first few songs, I was happy! We
were moving in a good direction."
The interviewer pauses for a moment and I take a bite of my cobbler.
"Is there anything that no one knows about you?"
"Nope." I lick my lips and pray that this lie goes through.
Everyone knows that there are a billion and one things I keep from the press. It's getting harder and harder to do that, but I know its something I have to savor. Like so many stars have done Cribs and I haven't. I'm really not into people seeing where I sleep, where I eat and frankly where I take a shit. I mean that has nothing to do with the performer that I am and I really don't see the point of it. When we were making "Making the Tour" I had to fight tooth and nail to only be followed during working hours. They could have followed me home that weekend, but I didn't let them.
"You all pretty much know everything about me."
"What was your biggest challenge in doing a solo album?"
must not understand what its really like to break away from something that has
totally made you who you are. It's like moving away from home to go to
college. Those first few weeks you still want to go home and sleep at
home, or at least that's the only way I can describe it. Who knows what
college is like anyway. I'm barely out of high school and it's been four
years since I've tried to study. I think that my college has been going
through the divorce from Transcontinental, negotiating my new contracts with
NSYNC and then my solo stuff while producing this album and dealing with all
that goes along with it.
"My biggest challenge was to make sure that it was an honest piece of
work, that the songs I did were who I am."
"Were you aiming for a specific audience when recording your CD?"
I have to think about this one a little bit. No one has really asked me about this. I know that deep down I had a little bit of an idea about who I wanted to make this CD for and the label definitely wanted to market it towards my fans from NSYNC, but also a more Urban crowd too. I can't say that though. I mean everyone already knows that, but I can never single out any one group or I'll totally alienate another group.
Alienate. What a perfect word for my life. I feel right now that the more this day and this career goes along, the more I'm moved away from normal society towards this realm of people that live in this parallel world. I felt it with NSYNC, but I had people to share that life with, now I have only me to share the experience with. I mean Trace is there and Mom is around, but really the only one that lives this life is me.
"Not really, I just wanted to be me." I shrug and look at Vivian who is waving for me to get off the phone. She somehow has produced another phone from thin air and says with a wave and frantic soundless speech that I need to take that call.
"Thanks for talking to me," the interviewer says.
I can't remember this one's name either so I cover it up. "Well it was fun talking to you. I hope your readers like what I have to say."
"I'm sure they will," she says.
I hang up that phone and am handed another cell phone.
When I take the other phone from Vivian she smiles. "Getting tired yet?" she cocks her head to the side and gives me a slightly sympathetic look. I don't know if I like her smile like that or not. If she starts being nice to me I always know that something bad is coming up so I know that I should prepare myself for something now.
"No," I say, "But when we get to the next stop I gotta pee." It sucks to have to basically ask permission to do that, but even that can mess up my schedule. I point to the phone. "Who is this?"
"It's Bobbee," Vivan says.
I glare at the phone as if it's slimy or whatever. You know that face I always use when something isn't up to my standards. "What?"
"J-14." Vivian doesn't look at me. She's clicking through her palm pilot to find phone numbers again. "Bobbee wanted to be the one to interview you so I said that it would be ok."
"Shit," I say and make sure that the microphone is covered. Personally I have nothing against Bobbee. When she and JC broke things off early last year I had to side with him instead of her, but it wasn't that I hated her, it was just that loyalty dictated that I side with my friend instead of the girl's. It could have been anyone and I still would have sided with JC on things. It's so neanderthal that way, but boys will be boys and girls will be girls and at the moment I know that JC and the others side with me on a lot of the issues that come up between me and Britney in the press. "Shoot me already. When JC finds out about this--"
Vivian only glances at me and in a not so convincing voice says, "It's gonna be ok."
I roll my eyes and throw my hood up around my head. "Hello?"
I close my eyes. "Hi Bobbee."
"I don't want to be too formal about this or anything, but I just wanted to ask you a few questions about the new album."
"How many?" I ask knowing that she's the only one I can get away with saying that to.
She seems suddenly nervous with me. "Like five or six?"
"Go ahead," I say moving around in my seat a little before I remember that I have food with me in the car. "But I'll warn you now I'm not going to say anything about my love-life."
"That's fine," she says. "I'm going to tape this conversation onto my answering machine so I can go back and write it all out later. Ok?"
This is probably something my lawyer should be answering, but I figure that it's Bobbee and I can always hang up on her if I want to. "Fine."
She shuffles papers in the background. "What was the last book you read?"
My eyes scan the scene outside. I'll never get tired of looking at NYC buildings. No matter how often I visit there are always new things that are up or taken down or just turned a different way. The same street can look completely different too if you're heading on it uptown versus downtown. Every little part of it is different. "I just finished reading something called The Prophet. It's by an early-twentieth century poet and philosopher Kahlil Gibran. It's kind of poetic. I like self-help books. I like books that I feel I got something from that I can apply to my life."
Bobbee clears her throat and takes a drink of water. "A five year old kid named his hamster Justin in your honor. What's the weirdest thing like that that a fan's ever done?
"The weirdest thing--" I have to think about this for a while. "The weirdest thing, I've ever seen was a tattoo this girl had of me on her whole arm." Vivian looks up from her work and shakes her head at me. "It was from her shoulder bone all the way down to her forearm, she had a portrait of me. Initially, I was a bit stunned. I saw it when I was onstage, and it broke up my whole freakin' routine. I didn't know what to do. And then I look over and she's got JC all over her other arm."
"Really?" Bobbee says. "JC never told me about that?"
I don't say anything. I don't want to talk about JC or anything that should have or shouldn't have been said to her. I'm not going to step into that fight if I don't have to.
She seems to understand that I don't want to move the conversation in that direction. "What CDs are you playing on your stereo right now?"
"I'm enthused by so many different things. But right now I can't get Coldplay out of my stereo. I think they're the greatest band of this generation -- it's between Coldplay and Radiohead."
"That's sooo not what I thought you'd say," she comments.
"Yeah well I change up my sounds a lot so I don't get caught in one style."
"Cool." She moves on. "You're obsessed with sneakers, aren't you? How many pairs of them do you own?"
"An incredible amount." My eyes scan the street and I know we're coming up on the street where NYLA is. I haven't been on this street in about eight months and I don't know if I should be on the phone when it happens. "A lot." I know I sound vague with my answer so I try to concentrate. "I gave half of them away to the Salvation Army, and I problem still have around 800 pairs. Sneaker companies have found out that I collect them, so they send me all these free sneakers. That's obviously the best thing about doing what I do -- all the free stuff, all the swag."
Vivian's hand comes to rest on my arm and her eyes stare straight out the window. I don't know what she's doing, but she seems to have turned into a deer caught in headlights.
"What's wrong Vivian?"
"Don't look," she says not blinking her eyes.
"Don't look at what?"
I turn my head and see Britney coming out of NYLA with Rob and Fi and her sister. There are photographers all over the place taking pictures. My breath catches in my throat as we stop at a stoplight.
"Hold on Bobbee." I pull the phone away from my face and place it in my lap. My hand goes to the handle of the door.
"Don't do it Justin," Vivian says. "D lock the doors on him."
My ears can only hear my heart beating and my eyes are like Vivian's. I don't blink. I don't even breathe I think until she disappears into the car on the curb that was there for her.
"Justin don't do it." Vivan repeats her plea and her hand digs into my arm. If she had longer nails I'm sure that I'd be bleeding right now. For the moment I feel only pressure and not the pain of the grip she has on my arm. "D lock the doors and get us out of here."
"What's wrong?" Tiny says from the front seat.
"Britney," Vivan says in a hushed voice as if she'll be heard through the glass windows of the car.
D looks again in the back and just as my hand starts to open the door I hear the click of the door locking me in.
"Lock the door on him."
Vivian takes the phone from my lap. "Bobbee. Justin's brother just called and he has to take this call. I'll make sure that he calls you back in a few minutes."
My hand moves from the door and I put my hand on my knee. My palm is sweating so I rub it on my jeans and then I turn to Vivian. My mouth is slightly open and I finally close it.
"Are you sure?" Vivian says and puts her hand on my leg. She's still on the phone, but if she was asking me that question at the moment I'd have to tell her that I wasn't sure. I wasn't at all sure that I should have left the woman I've been in love with since I was twelve behind. I shouldn't have been gone so much. If I'd been there then she wouldn't have had any reason to do what she did.
Vivian hangs up the phone. "Bobbee says thanks for the interview and if you have time later on call her so she can get you in Bobbee's Buzz again.
I lick my lips and look out the window again already feeling the tears at the corners of my eyes. "Yeah," I say, "I'll call her back later and thank her."
"Hmm?" I say.
"Are you gonna be ok?"
I swallow and turn back to her and force a smile. "Uh--yeah. Fine."
Her grip on me loosens and she puts a hand up to my face. "Really?"
My eyes catch Tiny looking at me. I don't like the expression on his face. "Yeah," I say and push her hand away. "I'm fine."
"I'm gonna tell MTV that we're on the way and that you need to have the green room to yourself for a while."
I reach out to grab the phone away. "Vivian you don't need to--"
She gets suddenly busy. "I'll just tell them that you need a minute to rest before you start your tapings."
"You don't have to," I say. "I'm fine. I mean I knew this would--" My voice catches in my throat.
"Maybe I should tell them that you shouldn't tape today."
Suddenly I see that there are tears in her eyes and I don't understand why. I know that she would side with me, like how I would side with JC, but I wouldn't cry over anything. "Vivian?"
She continues to look for the MTV number. "I know it's here somewhere. I need to call Dave Sira--sira whatever his name is. You know that producer guy?"
"What?" She looks up and there are tears in her eyes now for sure.
I want to ask her about the tears but this isn't the time or place for that. I may not have a clue why she's crying, but I know it's not something simple and would need a big explanation. I sigh. "Just tell them that I need about a half hour to chill out and finish my breakfast. Don't cancel. I'll be fine."
"Are you sure?"
I'm definitely not sure about this. I knew that I'd have to see her sooner or later. I got through seeing her at the VMAs. Thank God MTV knew enough to sit us on opposite sides of the room from each other and that Vivian steered me to a party that I knew Britney would never show up at. "I'm sure."
"Fine," she says. "I'll call them and tell them."
"Thanks," I say and I look out the window again. We're like six streets away now turning towards Viacom studios where MTV is at. The fans are lined up around the building and my stage for this afternoon's performance is already set up and ready. I wasn't able to do sound check, but I'm sure everything is going to be fine.
Everything is going to be fine. Maybe if I keep saying that I'll actually believe it one of these days.
Justin's first interview is from: http://www.timeforkids.com/TFK/kidscoops/story/0,14989,389161,00.html
Bobbee's questions come from a Blender Magazine article. I don't have the link.
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Last updated: 07/03/04.