Not My Job: Three Questions About Bass (The Fish) For Lance Bass (The Singer)
Orlando, Fla., where we are taping our show this week, is known for its rich history, going all the way back to the early 1970s. Since then, it's produced some of our nation's finest pop entertainment — for example, the boy band NSYNC was engineered here, and went on to become a massively popular musical act. We've invited former NSYNC member Lance Bass to play a game called "It's all about the bass, 'bout that bass, no trouble." Three questions about bass and bass fishing.
PETER SAGAL, HOST:
And now the game where we ask somebody who has done a lot to do something else. It's called Not My Job. Orlando, Fla. is known for its rich history going all the way back to the early 1970s.
SAGAL: Over the decades, it's produced some of our nation's pop entertainment - most notably the band 'Nsync was engineered here, went on to become one of the most popular musical acts of all time. Joining us now, an original member of 'Nsync, Mr. Lance Bass. Welcome to WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.
SAGAL: So we hear these stories, Lance, about how boy bands are sort of created. But could you tell us a story of how you went from a kid in Orlando to one of the big pop acts in the world?
LANCE BASS: Yeah. I mean, it all started in 1995 in Orlando. Chris Kirkpatrick, who started 'Nsync, he was friends with Howie Dorough from the Backstreet Boys and he saw how Transcontinental Records there in Orlando put them together. And so he went to Lou Pearlman, who was the president of the label and said hey, if I put a band together, will you support us too? And so Chris went out and signed us all and yeah, that's how we all became a band.
SAGAL: Really? Are were you just like walking down the street and someone said, hey, you look cute. Come here.
BASS: (Laughter). I wish it was that easy. No, I was a very gawky looking teenager, so I was not cute. No, I was living in Mississippi and I knew Justin through a vocal coach that when they were looking for a bass singer for the group...
SAGAL: Hold on. Wait a minute. Justin, Justin. Have you guys ever heard of anybody named Justin associated with this?
BASS: Yeah. He's trying to make it big. One day, one day he'll...
SAGAL: Let him dream. I don't know if he'll ever hit any higher than he did with you, but go on.
BASS: I know, it's sad to watch. It really, really is.
BASS: It was nuts because, you know, when we first started, you know, a year after we were together in Orlando, we got signed to Munich, Germany. So we're actually a German Band.
SAGAL: What? Wait a minute. You are a German band?
BASS: We are a German band, ja.
SAGAL: So like when you think of great German pop bands, we think of like what, Kraftwerk and you guys?
BASS: Yeah. And, you know, the Beatles got their start in Germany too.
SAGAL: I guess so, yeah.
BASS: You know, the first two years were so surreal to us because, you know, we were - it felt like you were the Beatles. I mean, there were thousands of people just chasing you everywhere. And then we come back to Orlando and you couldn't even get arrested at the mall.
SAGAL: I once talked to Tab Hunter, who was of course a matinee idol back in the '50s. And he said - 'cause he had the same problem. He was being chased by young girls all over the world - all over the place. And he says they caught him once and they started tearing off his clothes. Not because they wanted to see him naked, but because they wanted something that belonged to him or had touched him. Did anything like that ever happen? Were you ever caught by these mobs?
BASS: Oh, I mean, all the time. And in - the different countries - you can definitely tell like Spain, for instance, is the craziest with the fans. And, you know, you couldn't wear any kind of jewelry or anything that would come off of your clothing because they will rip you apart. And yeah, I mean, we've been bleeding many, many times.
SAGAL: Really? They actually hurt you?
BASS: Oh yeah. Oh yeah. Lots of fingernail scratches.
SAGAL: Wow. Of course after the band broke up, you came out with a really surprising kind of revelation for people who had followed you that you wanted to be an astronaut.
SAGAL: And you actually - you actually - I mean, this was not like a lark when you signed up for the - I guess they call it the Space Tourist Program in Russia. You learned Russian, right?
BASS: Yeah, I did. (Speaking Russian).
SAGAL: 'Cause the idea was you can't just be a tourist on one of these space trips. You have to be ready to fly the spacecraft, do the emergency procedures in case something goes wrong, right?
BASS: Oh yeah. I mean, it's not a tourist thing at all. I mean, you're a legit cosmonaut, and you're in charge of a lot of things. I mean, I was in charge of all of our oxygen on board, you know. So, you know, I could at any moment kill everyone on board.
SAGAL: So you had been a part of this hugely successful musical act that involved a lot of synchronization and teamwork. Did those skills as a boy band member help you as a cosmonaut?
BASS: It's - actually, it really did help me a lot. Just the discipline that we had to have to be in a group like that and the training that we had to go through to be able to perform like that and sing live. And yeah, it kept me very grounded.
SAGAL: As it were.
SAGAL: You guys - and I hadn't remembered this until I looked it up - you guys did the Super Bowl halftime show. Did you watch it this year with that amazing technological stuff that they Katy Perry had, and you were like hell, we didn't need any giant lion puppet?
SAGAL: We just went out there and the special effect was our talent. Am I right, honey?
BASS: Hey, we had a blast. I mean, the Super Bowl halftime show is the ultimate for any performer. And I was living a dream.
SAGAL: Oh my gosh.
BASS: But I would've loved to have had left shark there too.
SAGAL: Left shark. I think next year's Super Bowl is just going to be left shark doing a solo acoustic show.
BASS: Oh yeah.
SAGAL: And it's going to be 50 minutes of...
BASS: I'm calling left shark for Halloween. No one can steal that one.
SAGAL: Well, Lance Bass, what a pleasure to talk to you. We've asked you here this time to play a game we're calling...
BILL KURTIS, BYLINE: It All About The Bass, About The Bass, No Treble.
SAGAL: So you are Lance Bass, but what do you know about bass, the fish. I mean, probably not a lot unless you were named for the fish, which would be weird 'cause it's your last name.
SAGAL: So we're going to ask you three questions about bass and bass fishing. Get two right and you'll win our prize for one of our listeners. Bill, who is Lance Bass playing for?
KURTIS: Sky joiner, from Muscle Shoals, Ala.
SAGAL: All right, Lance. Here's your first question. Cheating is a big problem in professional bass fishing tournaments. It's a huge problem in fact.
SAGAL: To try, you might...
SAGAL: Please tell me that you, Lance Bass, have entered a bass fishing tournament.
BASS: I have not officially entered a bass fishing tournament, but growing up in Mississippi, yes, I fish a lot. Look I was either going to be a bass singer or a bass fisherman so...
SAGAL: There you are. To try to prevent cheating, bass fishing tournaments routinely do what? A, give all winners polygraph tests right there on the dock; B, test to make sure each competitor's urine is at least 30 percent Miller Lite; or C, they hire scuba divers to follow each boat around and actually watch the fish get hooked.
BASS: Wow. Well, I mean, I guess I'm going to have to go with C, scuba divers.
SAGAL: They're - scuba divers following the boats?
BASS: Yeah. I mean, that's pretty aggressive but yeah.
SAGAL: It would be. Sadly, the boats go upwards of 60 miles an hour, so they'd have to be really good scuba divers. The answer was polygraph test. They actually - at many bass fishing tournaments - hook the guys up. Did you catch that fish? Yes sir. That's what they do.
OK Lance, here's your next question. Now the way you cheat in a bass fishing tournament is you stash a live fish in your boat or in the water and then pretend you've caught it. But one cheater at a tournament in the UK was caught when what happened? A, he forgot to take the Bass out of the supermarket packaging; B, spectators recognized the fish from seeing it at a nearby aquarium; or C, he presented it to the judges in the form of fish sticks?
BASS: Wow. I guess I will go for A?
SAGAL: So you think...
SAGAL: So you think that a guy - usually guys competing in a professional bass fishing tournament - says here's the fish I just caught from this lake and one of them is in a Styrofoam tray wrapped in cling wrap? So you're really going to - 'cause we offer you the choice of the supermarket packaging, B, recognize it from the aquarium, or C, fish sticks.
BASS: All right, B just sounds way better now.
SAGAL: You're right. It's B.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: So yeah, somebody had just been to the aquarium and they said that fish looks familiar.
O'ROURKE: I say.
SAGAL: I say. And they called the aquarium and they said, are you missing a bass? And they said, well, as a matter of fact we are. And thus the guy was caught. All right. Here we go. The last question for you is about Big Mouth Billy Bass, that was the singing mechanical fish that was all the rage a decade ago.
BASS: Oh yeah.
SAGAL: It was not just a novelty though as proved by which of these? A, in Venezuela, it's being used to teach English; B, it stopped a home invasion robbery in Minnesota after the intruder was scared off by its rendition of "Take Me To The River;" or C, the newest version is entirely edible - an innovation after several unfortunate incidents with the first edition.
BASS: I know this one. It's B, it scared away an intruder.
SAGAL: You're right, Lance. Very good.
(SOUNDBITE OF BELL)
SAGAL: Guy broke into the house. All of a sudden he heard somebody singing, he turned and fled. It was just Big Mouth Billy Bass.
BASS: That's right.
SAGAL: Bill, how did Lance Bass do on our quiz?
KURTIS: He got two out of three, and that's a win for Lance.
SAGAL: Congratulations. So Lance Bass is a former but forever teen heartthrob and he's also the host of the show "Dirty Pop" on Sirius XM radio. And if you want to see how he's doing, check out his new music video, it's called "Walking On Air." Lance Bass, thank you so much for joining us on WAIT WAIT ...DON'T TELL ME.
BASS: Thank you so much for having, guys.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BYE BYE BYE")
NSYNC: Bye, bye, bye. Bye, bye. Don't want to be a fool for you, just another player in your game for two... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.