The Ting Tings Talk Touring, Super Critical, and Navigating Today’s Music Industry

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You may know UK-based duo The Ting Tings best for their chart topping songs, “That’s Not My Name” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go.” What you may not know is that they are getting ready to release their third album, Super Critical, and will be performing Philly’s Union Transfer on April 10th to promote it. Rock On Philly got the chance to chat with Jules DeMartino of the Ting Tings about the tour, getting back to their roots with the new album, and the excitement of sustaining a career in today’s music industry.

Jules gave me a ring from the road. The band had just arrived in Minneapolis and were on an expedition for a good cup of coffee. What immediately struck me about Jules was his excitement. He clearly loves what he does and this enthusiasm undoubtedly makes its way into The Ting Tings’ infectious music.

To be fair, I hadn’t heard much about the band since their 2008 album, We Started Nothing. According to Jules, there was tremendous pressure from the label to recreate that success with their second album, but the Ting Tings needed more freedom to be creative. “We started in Manchester in an art commune with 50 other artists,” he says. “Being in the world of red carpets and trying to squeeze in writing time in the limo just wasn’t going to cut it. We wanted to get back to our roots more than anything.”

In fact, songs as early as “Shut Up and Let Me Go” referenced their desire to be released from the label.  The band eventually got their wish and was able to create their own- Finca Records. For their third album and latest release, Super Critical, The Ting Tings traveled to Ibiza to start fresh and get inspired. On the creative process, Jules says, “You’ve  got to find that emotion. Katie and I are like kids when we’re making music. The artist needs to find that creative energy naturally. For us, traveling to a new place seems to be apart of the process now.”

Super Critical - The Ting Tings

While in Ibiza, they connected with Duran Duran guitarist, Andy Taylor, who ended up co-producing the record. After doing the majority of the recording in Ibiza, they then went to Avatar Studios in New York for mixing and to add a little bit of brass. “Bruce Springsteen’s brass section happened to be off one day and ended up adding additional parts to the record,” says Jules.

On the topic of navigating today’s music industry, Jules sees it as divided into two sections- one being the ultra commercial and the other being indie/DIY, where bands are taking more control over their careers.

“Look at Linkin Park, for instance,” he says. “They are just as big as Coldplay but you don’t hear about them as much in the mainstream media as someone like Justin Bieber.”

These days success in the music industry is about knowing your fans, engaging with them, and being hands on.

The Ting Tings do just that and then some. Jules noted that on their last tour, Katie would dance around so much during “Hang it Up” she had trouble performing the solo guitar part. The band decided to invite a fan in each city to jump onstage to play it. While she’s got the solo guitar part covered this time around, they now  need help with sewing. Jules says: “Katie has been working with Japanese designers on our merch. These shirts actually have patches on them but we need help sewing them on for the tour. We’ve reached out to our fans on Facebook for help and have met so many cool people in the process. It’s so much fun!”

The first video off of Super Critical is for the song “Wrong Club.” Jules confesses that there is a slightly darker undertone to the upbeat, grooveable tune, which is reflected in Katie’s choice to be pictured dancing in an abandoned warehouse. “We often write a pop hook with the melody and the beat, but from the lyricist point of view, we’re a little bit darker. People don’t realize that.”

So what’s next for The Ting Tings in 2015? A ton of touring! After the band finishes this leg in the United States, they’re back to Europe for more shows and a bunch of festival appearances at Arenal Sounds and more.

When asked about this new chapter in the life of The Ting Tings, Jules replied: “My biggest fear is having a 9-5 job that I don’t like. It’s been an amazing journey so far and I wouldn’t change a thing that’s happened.”

You can purchase tickets for the Union Transfer Show on April 10th here.

For more information on the Ting Tings, visit: www.thetingtings.com

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