2. The One That Got Away
But wait, Lance wasn’t the first fifth member of ‘N Sync!
That role was originally played by Jason Galasso, who had known Fatone from choir in their high school days and was dabbling in the singing-group arts when he got a page (1990s, FTW) out of nowhere from his old acquaintance. Coincidentally, he also knew Chasez because, as Galasso explained on The Digital Get Down podcast in 2019, he “used to kind of hang out with The Mickey Mouse Club” stars like Chase Hampton and Keri Russell.
After they “locked in perfectly” on a rendition of Boyz II Men‘s “End of the Road,” that was it, he was in the as-yet unnamed group with Fatone, Chasez and those other two cats, Timberlake and Kirkpatrick. “I remember I’m like, ‘Dang, Justin’s young!'” he recalled. “But then I heard him sing, I’m like ‘Oh, it doesn’t matter how old he is, he can sing his butt off.”
At the same time, however, the bass singer was also in a three-man group called Unreal, “so I’m still trying to decide, you know, what I want to do, what direction I want to go in as far as which group I want to go with,” Galasso, who’s in the mortgage loan business these days, recalled. “Because I remember, the first time Lou Pearlman brought over some music, he was thinking about the type of music that we would be doing, and I come from an R&B, hip-hop background. That’s my love, my heart, my soul.”
So when Pearlman came over with “this European-style techno, I was just like, ‘Hmm, okay.'” So, he went ahead and traveled with the other guys in Unreal to Atlanta to cut a demo, which he thought turned out great.
Meanwhile, ‘N Sync was starting to fashion a look and they were talking about putting a showcase together for Disney’s Pleasure Island. They even took a field trip to Shaquille O’Neal‘s house to check out his home studio in Orlando, but they had not yet recorded any music. And, more consequentially for Galasso, they hadn’t yet signed any contracts.
Pretty soon, both groups were trying to get him to sign. Galasso said he took the dueling contracts to a lawyer and, while the deal with the trio was pretty standard issue, Pearlman had himself written into the ‘N Sync contract as a sixth member, and that contract was “thick as a phone book.” He felt that the other members of ‘N Sync were more gung-ho than he was about the deal—which was true, because they all proceeded to sign it, whether they truly understood what it entailed or not (more on that later).
So Galasso ultimately went with the group that wasn’t ‘N Sync.