The Ting Tings
In anticipation of only their second album, we have a lovely chat with Katie White, lead singer of the Ting Tings.
Right, last time we spoke to you, you had recorded a bunch of songs in Berlin and now you’ve ditched them. What happened?
We just decided we didn’t want too much of an electronic album. We kept turning the radio on and all we heard was this really shit Euro pop and we thought ‘oh god it’s everywhere!’ and it put us off it. So we packed up and moved to Spain, listened to a lot of Beastie Boys, Malclom McClarent, Fleetwood Mac and got off more on that kinda music really. It was probably a bit temperamental, but I’m so glad we did as it’s so much stronger and more about our band instead of trying to please our record label, I feel like we’ve made a record that is more us.
Hang on a minute… what’s wrong with shit Euro pop?
There’s nothing wrong with it, there’s just enough of it in the world at the moment that it doesn’t need The Ting Tings making shit Euro pop on top of it. I’ll leave that to – I don’t know, some shit DJ. I love a bit of shit Euro pop, but not for The Ting Tings.
Is that why you left Hands off the album?
Hurrrrm, welll it just felt like everyone’s heard Hands now, and it’s done really well. We can play anywhere around the world now and the audience sings it, but we got so into writing, we always make ten track albums, so we thought let’s let people listen to another song on the album.
You could’ve done 11 tracks.
NO! It HAS to be ten tracks, all our favourite albums have ten tracks on, like Talking Heads, it’s this weird…phenomenon.
You’ve covered loads of different genres on your new album Sounds From Nowheresville, are there any genres that you wouldn’t touch?
Euro pop (laughs). Erm, no, I don’t know. The reason we did that is it reflects how we’ve been listening to music over the past two years. The type of band that we are, two people that use loops pedals onstage, we’re kind of a bit random anyway, we’re not a rock band and we’re not pure indie, we’re not pure pop, I feel like we can get away with making an album where we can sound like we’re influenced by TLC and the next one Nancy Sinatra influenced song, and things like that. I always think that it was enjoyable and made us take the pressure off. As soon as we realized we could make a record and it wouldn’t have to sound exactly the same, whatever we want, the songs came so much easier. It was good for the creative process.
The Nancy Sinatra-esque song, In Your Life is our favourite, actually. What’s yours?
I like Guggenhiem. We wrote that in Ibiza on a mountain in a day, it’s talking and you don’t hear many people talking through a whole verse then screaming really loudly on the chorus, so I really like that because it’s really expressive and it’s almost like an exorcism doing it live. So that;s really good. I like Day To Day because it reminds me of TLC, my favourite 1990s girlband. And I really like In Your Life, we recorded it in Berlin but then we went to New York and somehow Perez Hilton recommended we get this Cellist and record in the street in Brookyln outside the artist’s studio. So when you listen to the recording of In Your Life you can actually hear the cars driving past, it’s amazing.
The last thing you can hear on the album, I guess it’s Jules, saying “That one felt good”.
No that was the cellist! Part of that recording, he was AMAZING, he said at the end ‘that one felt gooood’. Jules hadn’t suddenly acquired an American accent.
Was it a deliberate statement to end the album on that quote?
No, I don’t think it was. We’re weird like that, we like the fact that you can hear a car alarm going off half way through In My Life, it feels like there’s a bit of substance to it and it’s not too polished or produced. All the records we like have those little bits in it that makes it feel quite real.
It is quite a weird album
in terms of that it goes all over the place, yet the more you listen to it, the more it does sounds like everything comes from one record.
Probably because we write and record everything ourselves. Maybe that’s why we can afford to do that as well, you know you’ve got an artist and they usually work with ten different producers on one album, they’ve got ten different writers and they still manage to make that sound coherent, so even though we’re jumping from different genres, it’s still me and Jules sat in a studio at the end of the day, and every lyrics has come out of our brain, we’ve played every instrument apart the cello, so yeah – I think it’s gonna be coherent just because it’s solely come from both of us.
On Guggenhiem you sing, well speak/shout, “this time I’m gonna get it right”. It might be a bit of an over simplification, but do you think you’ve found your voice with this record?
I think I’ve found my voice more to say ‘fuck off’. (Laughs) I think it’s more, I felt quite empowered on the first album, it was about frustration and stuff, I’ve definitely…I really don’t give a shit anymore. I just wanna make music, get lost in writing songs, see the world, go and play to amazing people we meet around the world and the rest I could not care less about. The whole red carpet scene, I’m not good at it, its not my thing. I’ll turn up every now and then, make a fool of myself, and go. I just feel like I’ve settled into my skin more. Maybe it’s an age thing as well, from being 21 to 27 for instance you feel totally different don’t you?
God yes. Who was the last person you told to ‘fuck off’?
The last person who I told, what literally, ‘fuck off’?
Well, yeah. You brought it up!
In the nicest possible way, I did it to a journalist today who was doing an interview (laughs) he was being so nosy asking tabloidy questions, I thought ‘fuck off, I’m not part of that world’ we’ve never tried to sell records off the back of tabloids, so I don’t know why I have to suddenly tell them about my personal life or my family. I’ve never used their tools so why should they get that from us? I threw in a few death stares and weird silences.
Well, we’re a lovely gay magazine. Are there any stand out songs you reckon might lend itself to appeal more to our readers?
You see this freaks me out right, I remember on the first album the label were like ‘we need a gay remix of That’s Not My Name’ and I was like, I don’t understand, I’ve got loads of gay friends and they all like completely different music, one is into Patti Smith and the other is into rave. I don’t understand what a gay mix is, is it Hi-NRG? I don’t know.
Gay has just become short hand for those banging electro Almighty, Wideboys, 7th Heaven type remixes.
I think all our album lends itself maybe that’s why we had quite a big gay fanbase on the first album. I think guys like girls shouting and prancing around, belting out their attitude. Maybe Guggenhiem, cos it would be quite theatrical, would that.
As a remix or as is?
As is. ‘Cos it sounds like a musical, you know, like out of Grease. (laughs)
Will there ever be a time where there is a Ting Tings musical?
I’d love that. Oh my god I would adore that, I love all the old musicals. I bought all the books, from like Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Some of the songs are a bit more rockier, will that have an impact on your live show?
Yes. We kinda like to keep it energetic live, we’ve not got round to performing In Your Life or stuff like that yet, we’re gonna go out do our big tour of the states, and [excitedly] maybe when we get back we can do Tings With Strings or something like that. An intimate show where we can do the more emotional songs.
Check out their website over here and get hold of Sounds From Nowheresville.
Words: Bob Henderson