The Ting Tings recorded songs their label loved – so they ripped them up and started again. Are they tempting fate?
Muster what positive thoughts you can about the music industry, pool all good feeling, then draw a mental picture of a record label boss. You’ve still conjured a crook, I bet, if you’re working from the same fund of stereotype and hearsay as me: the sleazeball with swindler’s eyes, all hairy wrists and cross-Atlantic accent. These aren’t, traditionally, figures of sympathy.
Well after an afternoon with the Ting Tings I want to find every record executive I can, and offer hugs. I want to tour the high-rises of Columbia and Sony BMG handing out blankets. Any A&R type or marketing whiz who has worked with Katie White and Jules de Martino, staunchly contrarian members of this two-piece Salford band, deserves at least a gentle squeeze of the shoulder. Because since scoring a giant hit for their label four years ago – the scrappy dance-rock anthem “That’s Not My Name” as omnipresent a feature of 2008 as deathly financial bulletins, as Obama – the Ting Tings have been nothing but trouble.
There was the £100,000 video for “That’s Not My Name” that the band didn’t like and had scrapped. (“We looked vacant,” says White.) There were the demo recordings they “lost” so that the label couldn’t use them as bonus tracks on the first album, 2008’s We Started Nothing. (“We’re control freaks,” says De Martino.) More recently they fought to have a piece of emailed-in fan art, imagining them both as putrid corpses, on the cover of a second album, Sounds from Nowheresville, out next month. Last year they slapped a freshly made video for the album’s lead-off single, Hang It Up, on to YouTube months before its formal release. “That whole Vevo thing,” says White, referring to the online streaming service most bands use to strategically premiere their vids, “is a pain in the arse.”
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