In Mandarin, their name means bandstand. In Cantonese, it’s “listen listen”. In Jamaica, they’d be two bottles of a grapefruit flavoured pop. But as one British duo so energetically try to tell us on their emphatically danceable, drum-driven single, that’s not their name.
Their name is The Ting Tings and they’re comprised of occasional bass drumming singer-guitarist Katie White and sometimes singing, strumming drummer, Jules De Martino. Near-overnight stars in their native England, the pair debuted at number one in the UK with their record We Started Nothing that includes the song Shut Up And Let Me Go, featured in the latest domestic iPod commercial.
While their songs may sound commanding thus far, it’s no wonder. De Martino says frustration is a driving lyrical theme on their album, derived from the demise of their heavily label-run previous band, Dear Eskiimo.
“We were cutting and chopping everything. We had 30 songs and tried to whittle them down to an album and we didn’t get a record out,” says De Martino of Dear Eskiimo’s struggle. With The Ting Tings, he says he and White are showcasing what they’ve learned from their musical experience, doing it their way instead of trying to pen the perfect pop song.
“That’s where a lot of our strength as a unit comes from - what we’ve been through in the past,” says De Martino. “This band is very much about having enough patience and throwing things against the wall how we want them. If they stick that’s exactly how it will stand.”
De Martino’s self-focused perspective is substantiated by the fact that The Ting Tings truly do it all themselves. From producing their own album and creating their own artwork to putting out their own records before being signed, De Martino says the twosome takes initiative because of their shared tenacity.
“The Ting Tings is just simply, selfishly about me and Katie,” he says. “When we plug in, we have to find the energy, because there’s only two of us.”
And even though the band went from playing crowds of 500 to more than double that — the latter all chanting their lyrics — in just five weeks, De Martino says their dynamic remains the same.
“That energy has to be there and it’s what makes the gig for us. What we get out of it is reaching that thing where we’re really rocking out. It’s nirvana.”
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