After a massive summer of touring, The Ting Tings are readying their new album. Life+Times caught up with Jules and Katie to talk about the direction of the album, their inspirations and the skinny behind their new video for “Hang It Up.”
Life+Times: Where did you record the album?
The Ting Tings: After non-stop touring we ended up in Berlin, we played one of our first ever shows there and thought it would be a great place to record. We found an old jazz club in the East and set up our studio in there. It was freezing cold (minus 27 degrees) and pretty grim, which is probably the best situation to sit in and write. We spent a good eight months there on-and-off, writing, reading, making stuff and then one day we decided we wanted to go to the UK. We spent six weeks in East London writing, and then headed to the south of Spain to write the second half of the album. Ahh, sunshine and mountains.
L+T: While on tour, where did you find yourselves most inspired?
TTT: I would say it was probably Istanbul and Jakarta for the crazy buzz of the two cities. Though, touring France always feels amazing as the crowds and the food are both great! We have been to Japan about six times now and it still freaks us out. The people we came across in Mexico and Brazil were good souls.
L+T: What direction are you taking with this new album?
TTT: We wanted to make a very primal, raw album that was honest and experimental and as always rhythm based. The songs recorded in Berlin have a different sound to those jammed in Spain. Berlin songs are more “tech ‘n spacey” and melancholic. It was an odd time for us, straight off tour after such a life-changing experience. I think we enjoyed being in Berlin where no one could get to us. I think the songs from London and Spain sound like us getting out of the dark place and have a more aggressive funk sound to them. We enjoyed rehearsing for days and we would often go up mountains and be pretty untraceable. Just getting lost in the music with the help of the Beastie Boys, Malcolm McLaren, and Nancy Sinatra. They where all major influences on this [record].
L+T: What’s the concept behind the “Hang It Up” video?
TTT: Firstly it was that we wanted to do it completely ourselves. It just has to be that way with us. We don’t need big budget videos. We don’t want stylists and his and her trailers and all the shit that comes with that. We just want to dream up a visual for our song and get the raw idea across to people. In Spain we met a great skater called Pedro Sanchez. The sky is so perfectly blue here that we wanted to film outdoors, so we put our drum kit in a van, and drove to Alicante with him, a great camera man we have used before, and our friend Dan who helped us direct it. We found a super colourful skate park and found a graduate designer who quickly made some ninja outfits for us. The “Kung Fu” section is our moment in a skate park (seeing as we can’t skate without hurting ourselves). The song is about “letting go” or “giving something up” so I used a samurai sword and swung at Jules smoking, slicing the cig from his mouth. We filmed Pedro for a bit, performed and just hung around for a couple of days, getting to know the skaters. There was this one guy who was constantly high – like full-on flying. He kept trying to do back flips and robbing peoples skateboards to show us his tricks. We found it interesting to film him falling over. He didn’t mind, but he did end up breaking his hand.
L+T: Jules, were you a little nervous about Katie’s sword-swinging at the end?
TTT (Jules): Just a bit. I watched her practice for only five minutes in the extreme heat before she called on the shot. The blade was blunt but even so, during her practice swings, she chopped a mic stand in two and sliced clean in half a cigarette stuck on a straw. Put yourself in that position…Nah!
L+T: Actually, this is the second time we’ve seen a video with Katie doing some martial arts. Is this a recurring theme, or is Katie a ninja?
TTT (Katie): No, I’m not a ninja. I think we find it interesting the idea of somebody attempting something, taking that risk of looking stupid, and pulling it off. It gives you a bit of a ride. Though there is something beautiful about kung fu and martial arts films like Kung Fu Hustle.
L+T: Did you guys try skating on the skate ramp?
TTT: No. We are not healthy skaters at all. People were flying around on rollerblades. That looked more up my street so maybe I’m gonna give that a moment. As far as headbutting the floor on a daily basis, I’d rather play guitar and attempt some kung fu. Great people, great times.
L+T: What are you listening to now?
TTT: Lykke Li, Paul’s Boutique by the Beastie Boys, and Austra. Can’t stop playing “Weird Fishes” by Radiohead from In Rainbows. Fixated on it for some reason.
L+T: Aside from music, what else have you been working on?
TTT: Trying to make sense of things really. Trying to convince myself I need a home when all I can think about is music and spray painting cacti for our album artwork. Actually we keep painting things and leaving them in the desert. I hope someone walks past and sees a neon cactus and the words “Ain’t got shit,” and thinks, “Well, that’s something.” Don’t know what, but something…
The Ting Tings will be embarking on the “Show Me Yours” tour in the UK this November. Info on the next page.