Lance Bass can trace the exact moment he knew *NSYNC had become famous.
In an interview on BuzzFeed News’ new Facebook Watch show, That Literally Happened, the 40-year-old singer retraced his time in the popular ’90s boy band, including the time when he first realized they had hit it big.
According to Bass, he and bandmates Justin Timberlake, JC Chasez, Joey Fatone, and Chris Kirkpatrick were opening up for Janet Jackson’s 1999 Velvet Rope Tour in Detroit when it finally clicked.
“I’ve never heard a noise like that before,” he recalled. “You get these goosebumps and they don’t go away the whole time you’re onstage.”
It was especially shocking for Bass, who went into the experience with much more modest expectations.
“I was excited to maybe get a job at Disney World,” he joked. “That would have been fun.”
Bass was 16 when he joined *NSYNC. The band became the fifth best-selling boy band in history, with a slew of hit singles — including “Bye Bye Bye,” “Tearing Up My Heart,” “I want You Back,” “This I Promise You,” Girlfriend,” “Gone,” “Pop” and “It’s Gonna Be Me” — to their name.
They’ve sold upwards of 70 million records. “It was a time in music history that I don’t think will ever exist again,” Bass said, of the band’s success. “It was the explosion of pop. And people were selling records like no one had ever done before.”
Bob Berg/Getty JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, Lance Bass, Justin Timberlake, and Joey Fatone in 1999
*NSYNC went on a “temporary hiatus” in 2002 before officially splitting in 2007.
The band has reunited since then, all five coming together to sing and dance together again at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards (during Timberlake’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award performance).
They were also gathered together in August 2016 for Chasez’s 40th birthday bash, and again in 2018, when the group was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
“These four guys mean so much to me,” Timberlake, now 39, said, before addressing his bandmates. “We’re really a family and the memories that we have and the times that we’ve shared and the families that we’ve built from it…I don’t think I could really put into words how much the four of you mean to me.”
During his speech, Bass opened up about why he chose not to come out while the band was still making music.
“At the time I thought I would never be able to tell anyone because not only was I terrified of the lasting rejection I was certain that would happen, but I didn’t want to jeopardize the career of the guys standing up here — much less the hundreds of amazing people who worked tirelessly to bring *NSYNC to the world,” he said.
“I thought if I came out, *NSYNC would be over, so I kept my secret and our wildest dreams were coming true. But so many nights onstage I’d see young gay fans singing their hearts out, and I just wanted them to know, ‘I was you.’ I just didn’t have the strength then,” he said, then thanking members of the LGBTQ community for embracing and supporting him.
Vince Flores/Startraks Chris Kirkpatrick, Joey Fatone, JC Chasez, Justin Timberlake, and Lance Bass
Since then, the singers (minus Timberlake) made a surprise appearance at Ariana Grande‘s Coachella Music Festival performance in last April.
As for a full reunion, don’t say bye, bye, bye to those chances just yet.
“I say never say never,” Fatone told Entertainment Tonight, after their performance with Grande. “We really don’t know… I’m only one [member]. There’s others.”
Timberlake, Fatone said, has already said he would not want to participate in a reunion — and despite fan outcry for more *NSYNC, Bass has previously made it clear that fans shouldn’t hold their breath.
“I mean, it would be lovely, but I don’t see anything happening any time soon,” Bass told PEOPLE Now in August. “We have not discussed it yet because we are the worst communicators in the history of Earth.”