The Ting Tings frontwoman Katie White recently took some time out prior to the release of her band’s second album Sounds from Nowheresville to talk to The Edge over the phone. Resisting every temptation to ask what her name actually is if it’s not ‘girl’, ‘her’, ‘Stacey’ or ‘Jane’ and why the remembrance of her name is such an issue in her life, the interview went as such.
Firstly, there’s been a massive gap between the first and second album — what’s taken so long?
There are a few things, really. We write and record everything ourselves, so after a tour it’s exhausting trying to get everything done when you just need a bit of time to relax. Another thing is that we scrapped an album, which kind of explains things. We created an album in Berlin, then decided that we didn’t want to go in that direction. It was very dance-based and we kept turning on the radio and hearing all this Europop shit, and we suddenly thought “You know what, we don’t want to be part of that; we’d rather do our own thing”. So we moved to Spain and wrote it again. Also, we’re just not very quick workers; after a year of touring we don’t always feel like rushing an album out — we’d rather take a good amount of time on it.
It must have been exhausting touring the world after the hype of the first album.
Yeah, no one expected it to go so big. The songs went big in England and then six months later they would hit America, and this went on and on with different countries discovering us.
Yeah, we were in Berlin a month ago and our music was just starting to get played there, two years after England. I think it was because we had less marketing power than, say, Kesha, who gets marketed to the whole world at the same time. We can pretty much go anywhere now, play a show and everyone knows the music which is great, but it happened on a very gradual scale.
What are people to expect from the second album?
I’d say it’s very different. When we released our first album I’d only just learnt how to play the guitar, so as we’ve gotten better at our instruments our sound has gotten heavier and heavier. We went into the album with the mentality that we wanted to make every song sound completely different. It’s a weird album in that one song will sound really punky, then the next will be influenced by 90s girl bands. It’s sort of like a playlist; we’re not really indie or pop, so we felt that we had a lot of room to experiment.
Do you ever get tired of playing the songs of the first album?
Um, we went through a bit of a phase of that, but when we play it live we vary it about a bit with pedals and various techniques…
Yeah, sometimes Jules [de Martino, drummer] will start playing a different beat and I’m like “Fucking hell, Jules, what are you doing?” We can end up playing ‘That’s Not My Name’ in double time, which keeps us on our toes and stops us from beginning to hate the songs.
After touring the world, which countries would you say you like playing in the most?
Scotland’s interesting — if they don’t like you they’ll boo you off, but if they like you they can be some off the best crowds we’ve played to, and it’s nice to feed off that energy but it can be very intimidating at the same time. In Japan it’s very strange — the crowds are amazing but completely different to over here. They clap completely in time and they’re silent between songs; they sit there watching you, then you start playing and they start their little dances…
“Their little dances”?
Yeah! [Laughs] They aren’t a bad audience, but as a band it’s hard to perform when not even the front three rows are getting into it. You can almost imagine tumbleweed going across the stage.
So lots of awkward silences, then. I meant to ask: seeing as Steps have reunited, I was wondering if there were any plans to reform your old band TKO who used to support them?
[Laughs] Um, no. We didn’t actually support them — we played about ten bands below them on the bill — I’m not sure if that’s even classed as a support band! I didn’t even know they had reformed, to be honest, because we’ve been travelling…
Did you not? It’s big news!
How’s it going, has it been epic?
I’d say everything has changed. I’m from Wigan and I’d probably been abroad once in my entire life, now I’ve been everywhere — it makes you feel different. It also makes you very restless, you’re so used to touring and seeing new cities that you actually become dissatisfied with normal life. Bands don’t have a long career and we’ll have to stop touring at some point, but I don’t want to; I’ll probably just end up working on an aeroplane or something, keep myself busy.
Any plans for festivals this summer?
Yeah, we’re coming back to England in the summer and we’re pretty much doing all of them; well, the ones we’re offered and can fit in. After that we’ll be doing a UK tour. We like playing festivals; we haven’t played them for ages so we’re craving them now. It’s always nice to play in front of a drunk crowd — the audience is completely different to any other show and there’s a massively lively atmosphere.
Finally, I’ve heard rumours that you worked with Jay-Z and Rihanna on the new album — is this true or have I been lied to?
[Laughs] No, what happened is we’re on the record label owned by Jay-Z, so he’s kind of part of our management but I wouldn’t, like, ring him up to ask if I’d left my shoes round his! With the Rihanna thing, we know her and we’ve seen her hanging out, but we’re not best friends — if she’s playing we’ll call in, but people have made shit up basically.
The Ting Tings’ second album Sounds from Nowheresville is released on February 27th.