August 15, 2006 08:40 AM

Nine months after his split from Jessica Simpson was announced, and halfway around the world, Nick Lachey still can’t escape the public’s curiosity about him and his ex.

“It is bizarre,” Lachey, 32, tells Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald while Down Under promoting his album What’s Left Of Me. “We get so used to it in the States, but, yeah, to think that it’s become like that in a lot of other places in the world, yeah, it is strange. People kind of think they know you before they have a chance to talk to you. It is a surreal thing, but I guess it’s kind of what we signed up for.”

He admits that MTV’s Newlyweds helped spark the fascination with him and Simpson, but says, “No one really understands this side of it, but she and I decided to use the show as a promotional vehicle for our albums, you know with MTV, who we’d worked with for years. It was supposed to be six episodes to promote our records, then it turned into this whole other thing.”

Ignoring the scrutiny of his personal life is “easier said than done,” he says. “My sister-in-law and I were photographed together and she was my new ‘mystery blonde.’ It’s a joke. It gets to be laughable at some point, that’s why it becomes so frustrating because it’s just ridiculous.”

Still, there is hope. “I can already hopefully feel it starting to go away,” he says of the attention. “I think there’s some closure there for (Jessica) and I; hopefully the rest of the world will find some closure along with us.”

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