- Tue, 2008-11-25 13:33
From their humble beginnings as party loving students, rehearsing and playing in a mill in Salford, greater Manchester, The Ting Tings have leapt into the spot light with their barrage of no nonsense, cheeky, shouty, colourful indie-pop. Katie White and Jules De Martino saw their debut album We Started Nothing chart at number one in May 2008, followed by a whirlwind of critical acclaim and a host of award wins and nominations.
With Dizzee Rascal covers in the radio one live lounge, hoards of screaming fans at home and across the seas, and a love for contemporary art, we caught up with one half of The Ting Tings Jules De Martino to find out more. We talk about the new DVD, being in the spot light and how spontaneity, enthusiasm and a lack of pens and paper have got them to where they are today.
"I Like Music because… I can.” Jules, The Ting Tings
ILM: What is the set up with the new We Started Nothing DVD?
Jules: When we first started the band we were holding parties in Salford. I was studying Fine Art and Katie did Fashion. One of the things we wanted to do was to get to a point where artists could interact with our gigs. For example, getting an artist from Salford to design a sleeve.
We decided that the four big cities we would love to go to in terms of art would be New York, Berlin, London and Salford, where we are based. Before we were signed we started etching a plan together to cover those four cities and meet artists within them. It proved difficult because there was more than one artist in each city that wanted to be involved. So we changed the idea around to having the people at the gigs do the artwork. We put all of the sleeves on the walls and people painted with all sorts of instruments; toothbrushes and pens, to express what we played and how they felt in the audience. We took a camera to each of those cities and filmed the gigs.
After the sucess of the album it felt fitting to put that footage out there so that people could find out how it all started. We've included all the videos that we have made and how we have made them.
ILM: Talking of videos, your music videos all have a very similar vibe. How much involvement do you have in their production?
Jules: We love making the music videos. We started making projections to acompany our live shows from very early on. The process of thinking about film and visual representations of our music is something we were already doing. Image making has become very much part of what we do. It was inevitable that when we started to make music videos for these songs the label found it difficult to pair us up with a Director. We didn't see eye to eye with a lot of the big names in directing. We wanted to co-direct, to come up with the ideas and the location etc.
Then we met Alex and Liane who filmed Shut Up And Let Me Go, which won awards, and we fell in love with them. They are concept artists that live in Berlin. We met them in California and we sat up all night getting drunk. We knew immediatley that they were the people we wanted to work with, they totally got where we were coming from.
ILM: What is The Ting Ting's process of making music?
Jules: Very impatient. There's no set pattern. Around the time of the first album we were throwing house parties, getting drunk and having a great laugh. After being in such a terrible situation with our last project we were under no illusions about how crap the music industry can be. Coming out of the wrong side of it we were disillusioned and just wanted to have fun. That's how we recorded this album.
We never got to the situation where we had a song that we had to re-visit for more than two hours. If a song wasn't working within two hours we didn't save it, or decide to come back to it in a week, we scrapped it, erased it, it was just gone. That impatience, trying to record something on the fly, was how we made all ten songs.
We're going to try and do exactly that with the next record. We've been on tour for the best part of a year and we haven't written a thing. We don't put pen to paper. We just have loads of ideas in our heads. We have a lot to say. April 2009 we want to get our studio, wherever that may be, set it up and press record. That'll be the second album.
ILM: And try and capture that same energy and spontaneity?
Jules: Yeah. If you are going to write something, or paint something, you really want to capture the mood you're in when you are doing it. The worst thing is for us to revisit songs like a diary and then, when we are recording an album, try and remember what we felt like. It's not as good. Anything that's really important will stay with us in our heads.
ILM: Out of all the gigs that you have played, which stand out?
Jules: Oh, there have been so many! We played a California show and the audience were going mad. We got locked in the dressing room and couldn't come back on for an encore. That was funny in a sense, but at the time everyone was trying to break the door down, 12 minutes went past and we had missed the encore.
Glastonbury was phenomenal. We played in a dis-used doctors surgery in Berlin to about 200 people. It was in a run down block of flats, on the sixth floor was an old doctors surgery. There was a hole in the wall for the bar and beer crates in the stage. It went mental in there. Japan, Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo - we played to 25,000 people, the Japanese fans were crazy! There's just a whole, whole list of amazing gigs!
ILM: After pursuing a career in the music industry for sometime you have now achieved considerable sucess. Is being in the spot light all that you imagined it would be?
Jules: I guess it's never like you think it is going to be. Katie and I are control freaks. We do all our own videos and artwork. When you get past the stage of being a new band looking for a gig, to touring round the world, that control freak-ness gets really manic. You have to deal with so many more things. We're very fussy about who we work with. Our crew are fantastic. When you tour you get a techie, a sound guy, a tour manager, stuff like that. When we first started we had ones that didn't work for us. We met people who we really liked and we had to try and get them off other tours and onto ours...It's that constant battle. Now we have all the people we want to work with and it's like a family!
ILM: You make sure you always have the final say?
Jules: Yeah. It is the same with the way our production runs on stage and our visuals. In a sound check, sometimes we can look at our visuals on the wall behind us and have to stop, tell our visual guy it's not right, then spend an hour and a half making sure it is. We are having a great, great time, but it is a lot more stressful now! Every ten minutes someone will be phoning you saying, Do you want sixteen lights around the drums or one? Do you want to travel via tube or take a car?
ILM: What music are you listening to at the moment?
Jules: Over the last month I've been listening to a band called Polysics from Japan. We saw them at Summer Sonic. They're like a pop-punk band, they wear boiler suits and they're graphically really good. Live they are really good too, although I'm not sure it translates as well onto the album for me, but it is really good.
ILM: What is one of the most memorable live gigs you've ever seen?
Jules: I've been to loads, but something that is in my mind forever is from when I was a little boy. My mum and dad took me to see Frank Sinatra at the Royal Albert Hall. I probably didn't even know who he was at that age, but that was one of the earliest times I knew I wanted to be a musician, watching Frank and his band on stage. I remember seeing my mums friends crying when he was singing. I can't remember much, people say he lost his voice toward the end of his career and he wasn't as good but I just remember sitting in the audience, watching people cry and this guy singing these huge songs. It has stuck with me all my life.
ILM: The effect that music can have on people?
Jules: Yeah. That was what it was. I was completely captivated by the whole event.