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This JC is still a long way from becoming a superstar

JC Chasez
 (The Spokesman-Review)
JC Chasez (The Spokesman-Review)
Len Righi Knight Ridder

JC Chasez understands why certain people might reflexively recoil at the thought of listening to a solo record from an ‘N Sync member.

“They have attached a stigma to what a boy band is,” says Chasez, whose debut album, “Schizophrenic,” was released in February.

“But I’m confident that if you give the record an honest listen, there will be something on it you will enjoy, because my record came from an honest place. A lot of hard work went into it, and people will hear that and appreciate that. Just give me a fair shake.”

Truth be told, if you give Chasez the “fair shake” he is asking for, he will return the favor by making at least one part of your body quiver, and possibly several. It may not be cool in some quarters to say so, but “Schizophrenic” is a pretty groovy mix of electronica, synth-pop, funk and reggae — and far superior to fellow ‘N Sync member Justin Timberlake‘s overwrought solo outing, “Justified.”

The songs are more mature than anything ‘N Sync has recorded.

“It’s just a part of growing up,” says Chasez, 27, “a natural evolution. I’m not trying to force anything. I had to do what I thought was right.”

Among the record’s several surprises: the credible dance-rock track “100 Ways” — “I use it to get in the crowd’s face,” says Chasez — and the convincing, at-the-end-of-his-rope pleader “Mercy.”

“I spent some time thinking about that song,” notes Chasez. “A woman is like a drug, and with that song I compared being in love with a female to being on heroin.”

“Schizophrenic’s” sexiest track is “Some Girls (Dance With Women).”

“I wanted to have my own club banger, but I didn’t want to be too generic,” says Chasez. “Everybody has a song about poppin’ a bottle of champagne and riding in on the rims. So I went through the course of a night out, from start to finish.

“(Women dancing together) is something everybody talks about and everybody sees, but nobody’s done a song about it.”

While Timberlake’s solo work seems to use Michael Jackson as a role model, more than one reviewer has mentioned Chasez’s guiding light seems to be Prince.

“I think what people (realize) is that Prince is an open-minded artist, unafraid to combine rock ‘n’ roll and R&B, and the fact that I am willing to try and do the same,” Chasez says. “But in no way, shape or form am I Prince.”

Chasez has been involved in two controversies during his hiatus from ‘N Sync, which will reconvene later this year to begin choosing material for a new disc.

First, he was disinvited to sing at the Pro Bowl following Timberlake’s involvement with Janet Jackson‘s Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction.”

And second, a mental health activist decried “Schizophrenic’s” title and cover art, which shows Chasez in a straitjacket.

Of the NFL’s decision, which he loudly criticized at the time, Chasez says: “It’s so far behind me, I’m over it. I can’t dwell on what happened.”

As for the latter, he says, “I understand (schizophrenia) is a serious but treatable disease. But my album title is not about the clinical definition. It’s about me and my music, that it’s not an ‘N Sync record.”

The birthday bunch

Actor-director Dennis Hopper is 68. Singer Taj Mahal is 62. Actor Bill Paxton is 49. Actor-comedian Bob Saget is 48. Singer Enya is 43. Musician Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) is 39. Singer Jordan Knight (New Kids on the Block) is 34. Singer Andrea Corr of The Corrs is 30. Singer Kandi Burruss (Xscape) is 28.

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