THE TING TINGS //// JULES De MARTINO////AUG 2008
They’ve been likened to the Sunny & Cher of Salford – an area of Manchester, which is infamously the setting for the Chatsworth Estate, the home of the Gallagher family on T.V.’s Shamless. So imagine them as a ‘his n’ hers’ double act, who perform in ‘The Jockey’ of a Saturday night to an audience best described as complete lunatics. And for what? The price of a couple of pints and under the counter pills. Not a particularly glamorous picture I paint, but I’m pretty sure Katie White or Jules De Martino wouldn’t be too bothered about this right now, due to the simple fact that in recent months this duo, best known as ‘The Ting Ting’s’ have had a number one selling album in ‘We Started Nothing’, a number one single, two other top forty singles (all charting simutaneously), countless TV appearances and more summer festival appearances than I would care to mention. Before their sold out UEA show in Norwich later this month, general cool dude, Jules De Martino spreads the Gospel according to Ting Ting…
You’ve played at pretty much every major festival over the summer, can you share some of your best ‘Ting Ting’s’ Festival moments with us?
There’s been quite a few. I mean taking into account that we’ve just done Japan and the States. The Summer Sonic Festival in Tokyo, we we’re playing at 11am in the morning and thinking, ‘well no-one knows us here, we are a new band in a country that’s worlds away from our own, And then 20,000 people turned up to sing our songs in broken English. We were absolutely floored. Can you imagine how we felt? We were only there five days…I mean people had been telling us that the songs were being well received on Radio…but…with Japan you don’t get a lot of Myspace activity cause they don’t speak a lot of English. We’d had little contact with Japanese fans so we weren’t expecting that.
Another great memory was playing the McCarren Pool in Brooklyn, which is a big huge swimming pool in the middle of Brooklyn. In the 1930’s it had been built as bathing pool for the locals as a communal means for washing as there was no water running into the apartments. It’s now empty and disused and broken up, so these people got together to do a festival there. Everybody stands within the pool area, and in size its vast, we’re talking around ten Olympic Swimming Pools. So they fill that with people and then put the stage on the side of the pool. When we were flying in from Japan to do the gig, we were telling our manager (cause on ‘That’s Not My Name’ we have the Double Dutch skipping) it would be really cool if we could get some skipping on stage. A lot of the Double Dutch skipping acts come from that area. So he called up the 2 times World Champion Double Dutch team, they loved the track so they came to do it on stage. We broke the song up in the middle, held our hands up and the audience were cheering, these guys came on and they were amazing. It was fucking brilliant – so that was very memorable. We are planning on doing the same thing at Reading…
As you’ve played both Oxygen in Ireland, and T in the Park in Scotland – both of which are renowned for phenomenal crowds, so I wondered if you noticed much a difference in audience participation?
Scotland and Ireland are just FULL ON. As a people, they just want to have a good time. The Irish just don’t give a fuck. Smiles on their faces, a drink in their hands, they just want to be merry. And that comes across in the audiences. Same with Scotland. You just go on stage and if they like you, that’s it, your in! They like you big style. When we went off (at T), we were shocked how loud people could be. Both were just pure fun. Nothing too serious, just a great time. I’m gonna be really honest now. I’ve been to Ireland before and I’ve been to Scotland before being the band. So I knew those cultures, but going to Japan and the States show this massive culture shock. People are just different. In the states you’d think, touring, rock n’ roll and living the dream, but when you go to Texas and places like that, its really different. As an example we were in an old launderette in Texas, and taking pictures. We were going from Houston to Austin. It was filled with these old rusting washing machines, rubber tires and broken pick-ups out the front, it was a real tumbleweed moment. We were saying how we’d only ever seen anything like this in movies. In the middle of doing the pictures, this HUGE white woman and started asking ‘what y’all hope to achieve photoing my washing machines?’. She got really full on. It was like an act it was so unreal…
Ok, so down to business. Everyone who knew that I was going to speak to you asked me to enquire about the name ‘The Ting Ting’s?
When we were down on our luck after our last band split up, Katie was working in Selfridges and a girl she was working with was called Ting Ting. She was Chinese and she told Katie that the name meant Bandstand in Mandarin. We were doing these parties at the time, with live bands playing, so we decided to call the nights ‘The Ting Ting’s’. It initially went from 20 of our friends to over 100 weirdo’s. As the nights got bigger, the name just stuck…
You’ve achieved a ridiculous amount in the last few months, with live performances, international tours, a triple single assult on the charts and a number one album. Out of all this, I wondered what are you most proud of achieving?
The last few months isn’t what I’m most proud of really. Well I am proud of it and going to No.1 in the UK is a complete dream but, I more proud if the fact that when I look back there was a point where after the last band split up, it felt like things for me a Katie were truly over. Everything at that time seemed like rubbish. Apart from holding these parties and getting drunk – (laughs, which is not a good thing to be promoting really) – I really don’t know how we had the strength and all those idea’s. I don’t really know how we did it, but we both just kept on…
So were these parties pretty nutso then?
Do you know what, we threw a party during doing the NME tour with Jo Lean and the Jing Jang Jong, The Cribs and Does it Offend you Yeah?! We were the first band on, and it was our first taste of being around people who take themselves seriously. We were up there doing our own stuff, caring but not. So this party was thrown at our place in Manchester called the Mill. We invited all the bands back ‘cause, we wanted to break the ice with them. We were sharing a dressing room with Does it offend you Yeah?! but we didn’t get to know the others. So we got the party going and everyone turned up. At some point in the evening I decided to start DJing, so I put on Ghostbusters which is one of my favourites. I could see the Cribs kinda looking at me like ‘what the fuck is Jules doing?’, all my friends and the other artists that are based here at the Mill are going nuts, I was pulling the cross-fader down every time it said ‘Who ya gonna call?’ and 100 strong were screaming back ‘Ghostbusters’, so I looked up and there were the Cribs, with their tops off and being swung in the air. It was a real moment…it showed me how we’d evolved. That’s my proudest moment, cause it showed how we didn’t have to give into anything to get were we are now. It was about ourselves being as daft as we wanted to without giving in to anything…
Commercially things appear to have recently snowballed at a ridiculous pace, which got me wondering where were you both, at this point last year?
Last summer we had just signed to Columbia. Just before that, honestly I was drunk most of the time. Doing stupid dances and jumping off the walls and playing stupid records. Really that was it. I had a smile on my face because all of a sudden it didn’t matter. After signing a record deal, which we vowed we’d never do again. The only reason we did it, is because the contract gave us 100% creative control. And to swing it, Rick Rubin got in contact with us to say how much we liked our music. Also Mike Pickering (famous Hacienda DJ from the late 80’s – he also started M People) was our A & R guy and he was one of the guys who was hanging out in the parties we used to throw at the Mill. So for all those reasons it seemed like the right thing to do. So this time last year, I as sitting with these people after signing a record deal and it felt like we’d had a real result. It felt like I could run a marathon, like I had carte blanche to do what we liked. Most of the time in life that is very hard to find…
What was it like hanging out with Rick Rubin? Are there plans to work with him in the future?
Well he emailed us saying that he wanted to meet up with us to talk about our music. So we got to do that both in LA and in Rome when we’re were there with The Gossip. We talked for hours about us all wanting to work together on the next album. With the first album, it was done before people started loving it. If we were to break the next album down a bit more than this one, and were looking for some intimacy we’d go to Rick, but we really enjoying doing stuff ourselves at the moment. He said he had been really bowled over by our stuff, which was a total complement to us. He liked the way we’d made it work, without trying to be so smart. He felt it had found its own sound. What was surprising about Rick is the fact that he’s quite a big chap, with the big beard, and he has the beautiful looking young girlfriend who quietly hangs by his side When we first met him, we just didn’t know who she was, she was like this shadow with him. He’s the sweetest cuddliest nicest guy…
Although still early days, have you had any thoughts on a follow-up album yet?
This album is only three months old at the moment, so we haven’t really thought about the follow up. Although we went to Berlin and both loved it there. So we are going to try and start recording some of our ideas in Salford early next year and then we are going to go to Berlin and do some time there. With the first one it turned out to be a snapshot of our lives. We did it over five months and it was just one song after another and that was the album. We are now starting to get this itchiness now to go back into the studio and be creative again. We’ve just bought a load of new equipment for the shows in the UK which start in September, which is going to up us another level. Also, we’ve been rehearsing, which means we’ve been jamming new stuff…Its been like the good ld days (laughs…of last year). With the last album we worked on a song in the studio for a couple of hours and if it didn’t work we just scrapped it. Me & Katie have a made a pact to try and do the exact same thing again. It just feels if we carry a Dictaphone to get ideas, they won’t be the same next year, we want to walk in with whatever is on our minds at the time and lay it down. We don’t want something that represents two to three years of walking around the planet.
Your Video’s up until now have been really cool, do yourself and Katie get much input into them?
(laughs) To be honest we are control freaks as far as this stuff goes. We had one bad experience when we went to do the video for ‘That’s not my name’. Before we made the version that has come out, we did a version with a big video director called Sophie Muller, she’s done a lot of the big stars video’s like Gwen Stefani’s. The label had brought her in, saying they had a big director who is completely in love with the band. So we thought great When we met up, we told her we wanted to record the video very much like the Jools Holland show – so just Me & Katie rocking out. So she was like, ok, that’s a great idea, we can do it in a space I know in West London, When we turned up on the day, I kid you not, but we had a trailer each. It was like something out of the Rockford files, it was mad. I couldn’t even speak to Katie, she was off in a different trailer getting hair and make-up done and people were offering me shoe’s. It was mad. She is a great director but I found her totally unapproachable. She was in her own world, she didn’t seem to want to know about any-one else…if we went to ask her (for example), ‘if I was filming in the next hour? Cause I want to go and have a game of football or something’. She’d be like don’t disturb me, don’t disturb me. When we went in to start recording there we’re like fucking fire ball machines and everything. Alarm bells started ringing…
Yeah exactly. People we’re saying, no, no, no, Sophie knows how to make a video. It won’t look like this when it’s done. So we did the video in a day or two and a week later when we got the edit, we were like fuck that – it is rubbish. We knew exactly what we wanted and she hadn’t listened and we scrapped it. I hope she doesn’t have a problem with it, because she is a great director, but we just didn’t like it. And to give the label some credit, they backed us and gave us another date to shoot the video. So the played a huge part in rectifiying the situation.
Finally, you’ve played Norwich before, any lasting memories?
We’ve played there a couple of times. As well as the NME tour we played there supporting Reverend & the Makers and that’s my memory really. We’d been out on tour with them and then left the tour for a while and within that time they’d really blown up. When we came back on the tour I Norwich they had brought this massive lighting rig…in fact similar to what we are going to do now. When we walked in we we’re like, fuck, you guys have gone nuts…so that my memory of Norwich – getting back on the Reverend tour with this huge change…as if they were playing at Wembley!!!
5 thing things you never knew about the Ting Ting’s!
Best lie you’ve read about yourselves so far?
When I was younger I was in a Christian Rock Band.
Musical Guilty Pleasure?
Most Famous persons number on your phone and how did you get it?
Robert Downey Jr. We did Jonathan Ross with him. We were in the green room and he’d nip out for a beer and a fag, so I followed him out. He was surrounded by massive bodyguards who tried to stop me a couple of times, so I asked him for a light and we got talking. It was wonderful, he gave me his number, I called him. He loved the band, but he couldn’t come down to see us in LA, so he sent down with Drew Barrymore and Har Mar Superstar…it was amazing!
Maddest thing thrown on stage at you?
A smoke bomb in France at a festival…