CK recently chatted with Music Choice, here are five things Music Choice learned from talking with chris kirkpatrick of nsync
1. Nsync’s early days in Europe were like his college years. (can’t get arrested overseas!)
2. He’s promoting a new artist named Una Jensen.
3. He and justin timberlake have been talking about writing music together.
4. He has great advice for today’s boy bands.
5. He truly thinks an Nsync reunion is a matter of when, not if…(hooray!)
i know that the end of 2013 was pretty big for you – nsync reunited at the vmas, you got married – all good things. how has this year been stacking up so far?
ck: oh, it’s been great. my wife and i jumped on tour with justin [timberlake] for about a month, and it’s funny because we actually got to experience that cold weather you were experiencing in new york – we flew into chicago the day before valentine’s day.
eg: polar vortex!
ck: it was just coming down. we left [orlando] and i’m in shorts and a t-shirt and we get there and i’m putting my wool coat, scarves, gloves, hat on… and then of course we go to philly, new york, boston, d.c. – all these freezing cold areas. justin had a joke, because every place we’d go to the weather would be great, but as soon as we pull in with the bus, it would start snowing. i was like, “maybe you should get off tour because you’re the one bringing the snow to everybody.”
eg: so how was that? i mean, i’m sure it was a blast, but is there any part of you that goes on tour with him and feels like you really wish you were performing?
ck: i mean, you always miss performing, but it was fun to actually be doing what i used to do but not be working. i know most of the crew guys, so i got to hang out the crew that we used to have [in nsync] and his family and friends were around – so it was a blast, and meanwhile i’ve got a drink in my hand and going, “oh justin, you’re about to go on, you better get out there!”
eg: do you see any similarities to watching him on tour now to back when you were performing? does it feel really reminiscent of that?
ck: oh, it’s the same. i mean obviously he has to keep bringing it to the next level every time; this tour was the next level. i think we saw this show 15-20 times and every time we saw it there was something new. i was just like, “man, he’s killin’ it.”
eg: oh, totally. i know he’s had breaks and stuff, but this tour has been going on for a long time.
ck: yeah, he’s had like, two weeks here, two weeks there but those fly by so quick. and especially when you’re on tour and in the grind like that, you go until the end of the year. it’s hard to get your bearings when you’re out all the time and you only get those tiny windows of relaxation. but he’s good at it, he loves it, and that’s what counts.
eg: that’s awesome. so, i’m definitely not going to ask you about an nsync reunion because i know that’s not in the cards, but the vma performance – it was just so awesome, and even from an outside perspective — everyone that i work with, no exaggeration , we talked about it for like three weeks. every day it would be like, “guys, remember when this happened?!”
eg: what do you think was the coolest part of that experience for you?
ck: i think just being around the guys again and clowning around like we used to, and getting to experience it all together. we were so young when it happened the first time, and being out there is such a roller-coaster, you just hop and see where it takes you. it’s been within that last years that all of us, except for justin, have been able to sit back and really realize what we had and how fun it was, and how lucky we were. it was cool to get a little taste of that again.
eg: absolutely. when you look back on your whole experience now being a little over 10 years removed, what’s one of the biggest moments or one of the biggest experiences that really stands out for you?
ck: i don’t think there was one favorite moment. there wasn’t a time where i was like, “man, i really wish i could do this again.” i think the whole experience was something that i look back on and say, “i wish we could all do this again, or go here, or go enjoy this.” being over in europe was fun because that was when we first got together and we couldn’t get arrested in the states, so we were over there just trying stuff out and experimenting with what we do as a group and how we are as individuals. it was kind of like our college years in europe, and that was a lot of fun. i don’t have the energy now that i used to. now i’m like, “babe, we gotta go home!” and it’s 12:30 at night. back in the day if i went home at 12:30, it was the next day.
eg: totally! do you feel like reuniting has brought you all closer?
ck: um, i don’t know, it’s always been pretty much the same. i know that going out on tour with justin and getting to be around him was just like old times. i’ve always looked at him as my little brother and he and i have always had so much fun together. i’ve always appreciated his talent and what he could do. and the same with jc [chasez], and i’ll tell you, it’s funny – when i got married in november, i did my bachelor party the week before down in the keys, and joey [fatone] came down for the bachelor party in the keys. when we left and came back up for the wedding, i was telling everybody that i hadn’t had that much fun with joey since europe. he and i were just out every night, we’d go to a bar and they’d call us up on stage and we’d sing and clown around. and even at the reception after the wedding, justin had to get on a flight, and i think jc had a show, but joey and i got up on stage and hammed it up and sang for the whole reception. it was cool because it was good getting back that close with him.
eg: that’s really awesome. i was reading that you guys have a group chat on your phones that you update periodically.
eg: that’s great. speaking of jc, i just saw that he’s jumping on the jesus christ superstar touring production.
ck: pontius pilate
eg: is that something you’d ever consider doing?
ck: it’s funny, right after we took a break in 2002/2003, i got approached by jesus christ superstar and they were going to cast me as jesus, but i lost my voice at the time and i couldn’t really do it. plus my little beer gut probably wouldn’t allow me to look as good as him. and now, jc’s got pontius pilate and i tease him because pontius is the one who puts jesus to death. so i’m like, “oh great, jc’s putting jc to death.”
eg: that’s so funny. it’ll be really cool to see him perform again.
ck: he’s probably the most underrated musician and singer i’ve ever met. i don’t think people give him the credit he deserves. obviously justin has [gotten the credit], but jc is just immensely talented. it was always amazing with the two of them just sitting there in rehearsals and listening to them and watching them and trying to keep up with them.
eg: i’m totally with you. so many people i talk to mention how much they’d love it if jc would put out another album. do you think from your perspective, that’s something he would ever do again?
ck: put out another record? i mean, i don’t know, i’m sure somewhere down the line he has to do something. he has too much talent not to. i think he’s just expanding his repertoire. he sees justin acting on snl and jc’s got that too… he’s just got to find out how to go out with it. i think this is a great first step, jesus christ superstar — being in theater, being on a stage. they were both on the mickey mouse club so they’ve been doing this kind of thing their whole lives. it’ll be really cool to see him up there.
eg: i’m with you. i know he’s been doing a lot of work with girl radical, and you definitely work on the production side of things, so i was wondering if you ever talked about working together with them?
ck: well actually, jc and i have worked together before on some projects – we’ve written a couple tracks together. i’d love to sit down with him and go over this project (girl radical). i’ve talked with him, not at length, but a little bit about it and what he’s doing with them. like i was saying, i think this is just something where he needs to expand what he can do. he’s done the group thing, he’s done the solo thing, he’s doing the stage thing, he’s doing the production thing. once you figure out where your place is, then you can start the wheels turning and working and working. and i don’t know maybe he’ll fall in love with theater and end up being in theater. maybe he’ll say, “this was a cool for a minute, but i need to get back and put another record out.” hopefully it’s all of them.
eg: so i know right now you’re promoting una jensen. you’ve been working with her for a while. what do you find special about her?
ck: we’ve worked with a lot of different artists i think the thing about her that we really latched on to – when we first came to her she was like 14 years old and we’ve been working with a lot of really young artists and so we knew how to work with a young artist – we’re going to write the song for them, we’ll teach them everything about the studio, we’ll teach them all the stuff. she not only absorbs everything you teach her, but she learns from it and she takes it to the next level. when we first met her, her writing was young; it was 14-year-old girl. now, it’s through the roof and it’s changed so much and become this amazing thing that you can see that she’s grown with it. she’s not just going to write a song because it sounds like a song that she likes. she’s going to write it because she needs to write it. the reason we’re so fond of her is because we’ve seen go her from this real awkward little girl to a very comfortable musician. like i said, we have a lot of bands that we’ve worked with and that we’ll work with again, but she’s the one person that we kind of said, “this is our heart.” this is the one we really want to see succeed.
eg: since you’re seeing this young artist evolve from a different perspective from when you were a performer and an artist, what do you feel is harder for artists trying to make in the industry now, versus when you were growing up in the industry?
ck: i don’t know if it’s harder, i think it’s different. i think the old days of finding a great producer and writing with a producer… i mean, you can write songs on your laptop now. we could kind of do that back in the day, but every five years it just grows in leaps in bounds. there was no spotify or pandora, we didn’t have these things where you could pay for a service and listen to the songs as much as you want. you’d have to buy the album; you’d have to play it on your cd player or your tape player. and now it’s different, the radio stations when we were growing up were the most important people in your lives. you lived and died by your spins. and now, radio stations are still important of course, i don’t want to discount them, but they’re not as important. people are making 360 deals with the labels because you can’t make money selling records anymore, so now you need merch and touring, because there’s just not as much money selling records. we made a lot of money selling records. kids today make a lot of money touring, merch, and online marketing, youtube channels, and different sponsors.
eg: and back when you were in nsync, there was no twitter. there was no instagram. so kids have to worry about that. it’s funny, with artists today, it’s so easy to know almost everything about them, and there is this sense that you’re so much more connected to them too, because you do have this really easy way of following them every day and reaching out to them, and then artists re-tweet fans. you guys never really had to worry about that. i don’t want to say you have to be more of a package now, but it’s more of knowing that you have to put in all of this extra work that you might not have had to worry about 10 years ago.
ck: we had to worry about our website. and even that, people weren’t necessarily checking our website to find out what we were doing, it was just this extra thing that we had. now it’s a lot easier for kids too, you could flip the coin. if we had a show, we’d have to do tv and radio promotion. now if you have a show, you tweet about it, and everybody who likes you knows you’re having a show. it does make them a lot more accessible. and it takes away a little bit of illusion with artists. you know what they had for breakfast yesterday because they tweeted about it. with the bands in our time, there was a lot of illusion to it. it works both ways; it’s both good and bad.
eg: i know you’ve worked with a lot of rock bands – a loss for words, yellowcard – i know you were in a day to remember’s video. what’s different about the rock world, especially with that scene, than in the pop world?
ck: there are a lot of similarities. i used to joke when my friends in good charlotte came out, i knew those kids, and they were straightedge kids, and yet they had all these tattoos and the videos looked so crazy. but i was like, “man, if they knew what we were doing…”
eg: what else do you have coming up in the near future?
ck: in the near future, we’re working with divided by friday, a great, upcoming group, working with una and a couple country artists. and also, justin and i sat down when i went out on tour with him and talked about doing some music together, so we’ll see where that leads. i don’t know what that’s going to entail yet, it’s not him and i performing, but it’s more of a music collaboration where we do production and work with artists.
eg: very cool. that’s awesome to hear! when did you realize production was something you were really interested in doing? was this pre-nsync years, or something that developed over time?
ck: i think it was something that developed throughout time. when we were out performing and doing our thing, we almost didn’t have time to really learn the production side. we’d wake up at 6 a.m. and we’d be out doing photo shoots, shows, radio promotions, and some of us would have time to write a couple songs, and then we’d get in the studio and they’d be like, “okay we’re going to have this guy produce this song for you.” so we really didn’t get a chance. we got a good understanding of writing but we didn’t get a good understanding of production until we took a little break and sat down in the studio to learn what everything does. that’s when i fell in love with it. i love music. that’s all i love. that’s my number one thing in my life, and that’s my number one thing i want to do. i always told myself, even as a little kid, “whenever you find what you want to do, take every aspect and learn about everything.” i want to proficient in every part of it – learn how to play instruments, learn how to write music, learn how to write lyrics, learn how to produce and engineer, learn what every little gear does. once i learned that, it was a matter of how much fun i have every day.
eg: to play off of that – if you could go back to young chris, even before nsync, what would be the advice you’d give yourself?
ck: there would probably be a lot of little things, and this probably sounds off from where you’d want me to go with it, but i don’t think i’d say anything. i enjoyed everything we did, i learned from everything we did. it would probably be stupid things like the friends you lost, or “don’t let that person do this.” i have no regrets about anything i’ve done musically, there have always been opportunities, and there’s always been a learning curve. everybody’s told at a real young age, “you learn from your mistakes.” sure, i’ve made a ton of mistakes, but if i didn’t make those mistakes, i wouldn’t be where i’m at now. maybe i’d make those mistakes at a later date. i don’t think i’d go back and change anything, but i’d say, “buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.”
eg: i think the whole “boy band” thing has sort of been experiencing a renaissance in the last few years. is it kind of weird to see other people go through that now? what would be your advice to them? how do you see them impacting the industry in the way that nsync and a lot of other bands did?
ck: first, it’s funny, because when we were out, believe it or not, the term “boy band” wasn’t really out there. it was “pop.” “bubble-gum pop.” that’s what we heard about all the time. if “boy band” was such a big term then, we probably would have written a song about it. we always liked to make fun of ourselves or talk of ourselves first before anyone else had the chance to. that way we could say, “hey we’re just like you man, we’re along for the ride and we just happen to be the ones up here making this music right now.” but advice? it’s funny because i remember being on tour in the late 90s and jordan knight was opening up for us. he had a resurgence, he had a song out. it was a great song. and while he was on tour he was doing some interviews, and they kind of asked him the same question. and he said it absolutely perfect. he said, “know your power. know where you’re at. know the changes that you’re bringing to people right now.” while you’re in it, you don’t know it. somebody is saying, “hey, tomorrow you have photo shoots, tomorrow you’re doing this.” and it’s work. you’re working 16-17 hour days, eight days a week. there’s no rest. it’s all work, work, work. you don’t have a chance to really sit back and say, “wait a minute, when we do this, why are we doing this? or why are these kinds of people coming out to this show, or why is this music big?” you don’t get a lot of chances to really ask questions and learn while you’re doing it. it took me until after it to have a chance to sit down and realize things. and if i go out people say, “hey can i have a picture?” and i’m like, “really?” and they say, “yeah, you don’t understand!” we didn’t really know our power until after. i think it’s almost impossible to understand your power during it. i think justin has figured that out. artists like bruno mars, lady gaga, jay z – the great artists figure it out while they’re doing it, not while they’re finished. while you’re still going, you’ve got that big momentum and there’s a lot rolling for you. i think jordan said it best: “know your power.”
eg: definitely. there has to be a part of it that’s almost just so surreal and such a whirlwind. you play these massive shows and you almost don’t even understand the scope of it while you’re in it. do you feel today when people approach you, it still surprises you?
ck: not really because people come up to me all the time and say things like, “you have no idea.” but, i grew up a fan too. everybody is a fan of something. i’m still a huge fan. and i know parts of my life that revolved around certain music or bands that i loved so much that you feel such a part of them, and that changes you and who you are. we were the kind of band that for younger kids, right when they were experiencing all these changes, we were there with them. so they feel like we helped them through these troubled times, or happy times. i had those bands too, so i do understand. i always tell them, “no you don’t understand because i do get it.” i’m not trying to play if off like, (sarcastically) “oh yeah, you’re welcome.” i understand. we really were there. we were there with you when you had your first kiss. we were there with you when you had your first date, or your first breakup. we totally understand. there were bands that were there with us, too. and you feel so connected to them and everything about them. stupid little things. we would do little things and everyone would think it was such a big deal. it really wasn’t, but it is… because to you it was.
eg: and i think that’s why, for so many people, you all reuniting at the vmas was so awesome because it had been so long. it had been 10 plus years, and for so many people, they grew up in that time period. there was definitely this nostalgia with it. for me, i had childhood friends who texted me to see if i was watching it. everyone got so excited, and i think it was just really special for so many people. it was such a moment of, “remember how great this was?”
ck: you hit the nail on the head right there with that. you asked me before what the best part of it all was, and for us, we were doing it, but we weren’t doing it alone. we’ve hung out all five of us, they all surprised me on my birthday, and it wasn’t such a big deal. but when we’re up there performing together, it isn’t just about us. it’s about the family, the friends, the fans. the night was really about justin getting his award and it was a real big deal for him. but it was a really big deal for him to say “listen, i want people to understand what i’ve been through. it wasn’t just me the whole time. this is about all of us and what we’ve done.” jc and i really took this to heart. we kept saying, “hey man, this is your night.” and justin kept saying, “no, this is our night. this is us. this is who i am. you guys are who i am, and i wouldn’t want to do this if couldn’t at least pay homage to where i came from.” the whole thing was special. even if it was just a minute, it was enough that we were all together. it was kind of fun doing it for that short and have people go, “wait, that’s it!?”
eg: it was definitely a highlight for so many people. at this point in your career, you look at the bucket list – what’s something you haven’t done yet that you would love to do?
ck: i don’t know. i never really put together a bucket list. i live each day and enjoy it to the fullest. every day i wake up and appreciate that i’m alive and breathing and here. i’m making music as a career. i don’t have to work at mcdonalds or fall back on another game plan. i’m getting to do what i love. who knows? hopefully someday we’ll get along to the point where we can all be in a room and where together again. who knows when that’ll happen.
eg: do you think it’s a matter of when and not if?
ck: i think it’s a matter of when. i mean, there’s no one person that is saying “we’re not doing this.” it’s a group collective. there may be a couple guys saying, “hey we need to do this!” but it’s not one person saying it isn’t right yet. there are a couple of us that it’s just not right for right now. we’re all still doing what we’re doing and enjoying what we’re doing. we enjoy being with the other guys, but to the point where we do a tour? that takes up a lot of time from what we’re into and takes away from the other aspects. it can’t not ever happen again. i just hope it doesn’t come at the wrong time or for the wrong reasons, and that’s why we’re taking our time with it. we don’t want it to come for the wrong reasons.
eg: for sure. in the meantime, the world will be patiently waiting!
– emma gaedeke
photo courtesy of getty