If a band wants to earn a respectable position in the contest for top tokers, naming an album after a strain of weed would be a surefire way to do it. The Ting Tings dubbed their new album Super Critical in honor of an impressive homegrown plant from the famous party island of Ibiza.
Success came as a surprise to these U.K. partiers, who rose through the Manchester underground. Made up of Jules De Martino and Katie White, the band managed to bring in Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor for a nine-month ride to create and mix their new record.
Letting go in an Ibizan haze, they sifted through numerous songs and locked down tracks. Taylor assisted in the process and was blown away hearing the duo for the first time.
Their first album, We Started Nothing, had been an organic phenomenon. Their second, Sounds From Nowheresville, also drew in fans. Top hits include “That's Not My Name” and “Shut Up and Let Me Go.” Between albums they were offered jobs as hit creators for Katy Perry and David Guetta.
But that's not their gig. They did what felt natural and they did it all on their own, including launching their label, Finca Records.
Onstage, it's a two-person show. White handles vocals and plays keys, bass guitar, bass drums and, most important, cowbell. De Martino also sings and plays lead guitar and drums.
Now The Ting Tings have fallen in love with Los Angeles — its warm beaches, quality house parties and, of course, homegrown chronic — so much so that they are planning to settle in L.A. for a year starting in September. But before they do, they'll be in Los Angeles to tape The Late, Late Show With James Corden near the end of April and to appear at Hollywood's Fonda Theatre on July 2.
Rolling Paper had a chance to chat with De Martino about the band's tokes, trials and tribulations.
ROLLING PAPER: Do you guys have a favorite place you've played in L.A.?
JULES DE MARTINO: The one that sticks in my mind is we played at the Roxy about four years ago, and Rick Ruben came to our show and it was amazing. At the end everyone went to a house party. We transported our gear in Jeeps and other cars. We literally walked into this 200-person party carrying our drums over our heads, put them right down on the middle of the floor and just started playing.
What's your best memory of smoking weed in L.A.?
We spent a few days in Santa Monica. I don't know what we were getting, because someone got it for us. We would get up and have a morning puff and then go walk along those beaches there, and it was so nice. I know it sounds cliché, but in Manchester it rains every day.
So you hooked up with Duran Duran guitarist Andy Taylor?
Yeah, we were hanging out in Ibiza at our studio and playing our music at parties. There was a group we would hang out with and Andy was there. He just kept saying, “No, we don't let anyone in the studio with us when we are working because we need to focus and get all our shit together.” He just said the right things. …
We brought Andy into the studio to hear the track, and he went mental. He said, “This is amazing! Let me know if there's anything I can do to help.”
How did the name The Ting Tings come about?
Katie used to work at a place in Manchester called Box Fresh, which is kind of like an outlet store. There was a girl who worked there and her name was Ting Ting, and it meant “listen, listen” in Mandarin Chinese, but when you Google it, it also translates to the sound [people] make when you have a great idea.
In Horrible Bosses, actor Charlie Day sings your song “That's Not My Name,” and then Kevin Spacey shows up.
Oh yeah, that song picked up really well in the States. We had not seen [the movie] until a year after it came out! It was really funny and cool. It has been really important to see actors in films and stuff playing our music.
What's happening in the U.K. with weed legalization?
It's all illegal and we haven't had any kind of legislation for legalization in any shape or form. There's leniency with a certain amount, when the police will use their judgment.
What is your band's preferred way of smoking?
Pipe. Well, there's two ways for us. If we are working and traveling, we roll a spliff because we don't wanna get too fucked up. You don't get so heady or spinned out. We also don't try to change everything, all high, right before a show. Katie's like, “What the fuck you doing, man?” And then I can't remember.
What are your favorite stoner songs and movies?
Shawshank Redemption. I love it when Morgan Freeman's voice comes in. It just makes me wanna get stoned. … We really love London Grammar's stuff. … I think we are still kinda buzzin' off of Jackson 5, Blondie, Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club …
Do you perform better if high when you're doing something creative — songwriting, working in the studio or onstage?
Super Critical was pretty amazing because I think we were stoned the whole nine months of recording. Like at 4 in the morning, we consistently just rode it. Our second album was really tough to make, in Berlin. … [So] we started getting high, and it made a big difference, because we just let everything go.
If you could hang out with any musician who smoked a lot of weed, who would it be?
John Lennon. I could just sit next to him for one minute and my career would be done.
When we were in Minneapolis, Prince was having a party right down the street. I would love to just sit down with him. I hear he's pretty intense, but I'd love to just rock out with him or feel his clothes or something …
Do you guys like electronic music with DJs?
No, not really. We respect it and we understand it, but no.
We used to never love L.A., we loved New York. And now every time we go to L.A. we love it more and more.