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Music Interview

The Ting Tings interview: 'Spice Girls inspired new album'

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Ting Tings
There are many ways in which artists deal with "second album syndrome", but few go as far as deleting almost the entire thing before its release.

For Salford duo The Ting Tings, however, there was apparently no other option. As such, they went back to the drawing board for the follow-up to 2008's We Started Nothing, the results of which can be heard on Sounds From Nowheresville next month.

Ahead of the record's release, we caught up with Katie White and Jules de Martino to find out why they've spent so long in hiding and what they make of today's music charts.

Happy New Year Ting Tings. Was 2011 a good year or bad one?
Katie: "Thanks! I think it was an interesting one. When you're writing you tend to not be as happy as you'd normally be. I think it was a very creative year, which makes you a miserable git, but it's also a good thing because you're creating a record."
Jules: "Sometimes you say, 'why are we doing this?', and you're thankful when it's over. Then you get to the promo stage and you look back and think it's amazing. Being stuck in a studio is never as good as touring."

Well you've been on tour since your debut album came out in 2008...
Katie: "After a lot of time in the studio I'm literally begging our team to put us on a plane to a new city every day. I immediately regret it once I'm doing it!"

We guess you were also gearing up to tour with the album that never happened.
Katie: "I don't think we were really gearing up for it. We were in Berlin where there is a great electro scene, and so we made songs like that, but quickly realised that everything on the radio was Euro-pop s**te. We didn't want our record to be tarnished with that brush."
Jules: "We scrapped six of the ten songs, which upset quite a few people. We put out 'Hands', which was meant to be an underground, white label-only release and it ended up being playlisted on Radio 1 - we were quite angry so erased over half the album."

What happened next?
Katie: "We went to Spain and started listening to the Beastie Boys. We always seem to get obsessed with a particular album when we're making one. It never sounds like that album, but it's always a good starting point. I think we've now found our feet and how we want to sound. No-one would give a s**t if we'd made a s**t Euro-pop song, even if it went top ten."

What's wrong with making the album in the UK?
Jules: "We came to London for a while to write some songs. We couldn't really go back to Manchester because it would have ruined what we had there - turning up with a big truck and taking over our old studio - it wouldn't have been the same. We also had a bit of a tough time in London - it's hard to do anything because there is always traffic and meetings to go to."
Katie: "We sort of fell out of love with London because we've been to so many places now. It's sort of why we called the new album Sounds From Nowheresville, because we love visiting little towns."

Ting Tings


Was the last album really going to be called Kunst?
Katie: "That was more of a lighthearted thing really. We sent an image of a massage parlour called 'Massage Kunst' to our label as a joke to see how they'd react, and then a journalist came to our studio for an interview and saw the name on the wall and ran with it. We were 1% toying with the idea, but we wouldn't have done it."

You've said your new album sounds like nothing on the radio. Does that make you nervous about its chances on the charts?
Katie: "Not really - I think we've gone beyond that by now. I'd hate to sit and write a record specifically for radio stations to play."
Jules: "The way we listen to music has changed since we started touring because we can't bring our collections with us. We were asked to make a dance record and neither of us could think of anything worse. This industry can be a bit tedious."
Katie: "We naturally write pop songs though - they're just a little bit more experimental. Hopefully they'll find their way."

The tide does seem to finally be turning against that Euro-pop sound, though.
Katie: "It does seem to have peaked thankfully. There's a few good ones and then all these vultures jump on it and you get 20 songwriters on one track all trying to earn a quick buck. We'd rather not compete with that. All the bands we like seem to do their own thing - whether they have a five-year career or a 20-year one."

Your new album is described as "genre-hopping"; was that intentional?
Katie: "We wanted to make a record that sounded like a playlist. I think it helped us write it because we could do whatever we want. We'd stopped listening to full albums on the road and were just cherry-picking the best songs, so that's what we've done on this album."
Jules: "We struggled to find a point to the second record - we didn't want to write about being on a plane or the struggles of touring. We went back to what made us want to be musicians, and Katie said that was the Spice Girls and TLC, so we made songs inspired by those things."

You were pushed into the limelight in 2008. Is it better to be in the band then or now?
Katie: "I think it's better now. Our first year in the industry skyrocketed and we held on for dear life. The success took the pressure off for our second album because it allowed us to be creative. It's still tough though, and you still need a thick skin. I used to be quite a nervy person but I'm not anymore. If we're successful again, then so be it."

The Ting Tings release Sounds From Nowheresville on February 27. Watch the music video for their latest single 'Hang It Up' below:

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