Lance Bass and Britney Spears
Rick Maiman/AP; INF
11/02/2007 AT 12:50 PM EDT
After all these years, Lance Bass still remains 'N Sync with longtime friend Britney Spears
"I saw her last night," Bass, 28, told PEOPLE on Thursday at a Los Angeles signing of his new memoir, Out of Sync
"I went over to the house. It was great," he said. "I went over to see the kids, and you can tell she's really trying so hard to get herself back in order."
Bass writes in his autobiography that Spears, 25, was instrumental in his decision to speak out about his sexuality.
"She was one of the first people that I came out to. We grew up together, basically. She was the first opening act that we had," he said at the signing, "and she was dating Justin [Timberlake, his bandmate]. We'll always have that family vibe between us."
So what does he make of Spears's ongoing troubles? (Despite strong initial sales
of her new album Blackout
, she remains embroiled in her messy custody battle
with ex Kevin Federline
Bass partly perceives her problem as a matter of being a single act as opposed to having been in a group.
Teen superstardom was "easy when you have four of your best friends on tour with you at all times," he says, recalling his own 'N Sync days. "If your head gets a little big, you have four guys slapping you and going, 'What the hell are you doing?' "
By contrast, Spears "was by herself. It's different when you're a solo act, and you don't have anyone around you telling you no."
Bass's advice to Britney now is simple. "Just be yourself," he says, "and remember where you came from."