By Andrea WarnerThe Ting Tings' multi-platinum debut, We Started Nothing, offered catchy, frenetic pop ditties that proved fun for club freak-outs, cross-training and everything in between. Jules de Martino and Katie White became overnight sensations thanks in equal measure to their sound and the ethos behind it. In almost every interview, the Manchester-based duo eschewed popularity and commercialism in favour of art and creativity. In kind, their live shows proved a real Breakfast Club of champions, with the art-school chic bouncing alongside power-poppers, DIY post-punks and second gen emo-lites.
So, could de Martino and White make lightning strike twice with their long-awaited follow-up, Sounds from Nowheresville? In short, not yet. The record dropped about six weeks ago, and though it might not be what the industry or Ting Tings' fans expected, de Martino says it's exactly what he and White envisioned when, halfway through the recording process, they deleted six songs the label loved, fled the country and started fresh. Pretentious, self-destructive snots or idealistic, uncompromising artists? You be the judge.
You were on Pink's Funhouse tour, which seems very focused on spectacle, whereas you and Katie seem quite focused on music. Did that influence how your thoughts about how to approach this record? Jules de Martino: Well, the reason why we did the Pink tour ― even though we love pop music, we're a real DIY indie outfit. There are just two of us and we play everything on stage ourselves and write and record all our own songs ourselves in the studio. Doing something like the Pink tour where an artist like Pink ― who is probably completely different in terms of the way she sets up her career... like she writes with a lot of writers, works with a lot of producers, on stage with a lot of musicians ― it's the complete opposite way to work. A lot of people who know the Ting Tings know that we love a challenge, and doing something we wouldn't normally do, and going out on that tour, seeing a massive production, working in arenas everyday, I mean it was an experience. I don't think it was how we would like to put our show together, but it was such a great experience to do it.
It's definitely a different scene for you guys. After the third or fourth show, we knew if we were ever going to put on big, big tours, what we wouldn't do and what we would do. In fact, it's kind of interesting you ask that question, because we obviously felt after the first album was so successful, we felt quite pressured in terms of our record company and management expecting this band could be this big pop phenomenon. And the problem is with the pop music is that a lot of celebrity is born out of being out, showing your face, selling out, branding and it's one of the sides of this industry that I think bores us the most. As far as being creative, writing songs, playing live and finding ways to play it live, and interacting with the audience on the internet, the actual red carpet stuff is really frustrating. We don't have a lot of friends in the industry because the parties just aren't that fun. We kind of steer clear of that a lot and I think with this record, we realized after some of those experiences ― the red carpets, the Pink tour ― could be great fun, but they meant we couldn't be so creative musically because there's a definite margin between running your life as a celebrity and writing the songs you want to write. In that celebrity mode, you have to write songs that are for radio and we just found that really difficult. I studied fine art, Katie did fashion, we just really wanted to go in the studio and make a record we wanted to make. When we started the second album, the whole thing was very similar, just obviously it blew up. We wanted to make sure we toured all the great clubs we loved touring, like we've been doing, the best venues in the world and we just missed it so much playing festivals every night. We really missed having that control. We've been on tour for four weeks now in the U.S., and we've already become an amazing act... [With stadium shows] you don't actually become that much better a band, but in these clubs, my God, it's just been an amazing trip.