And for once, it’s not musical.
I like the one about it not being her name, and not calling her babe.
I like the one about DJ’s.
I even like the one about shushing up and letting her go.
Oh no. They are quite likeable, musically.
I admire the things that they appear to stand for.
It’s just that I hate EVERYTHING THAT THE BAND ACTUALLY ARE.
It’s been building up for some time, and it’s all about to make my head explode unless I vent my anger now. So issue by issue, let me explain.
#1 – We Started Nothing – the lies in the CV
‘…she started her musical life in a girl band, which was, as she freely admits, "the sort of thing you did in the mid 90s, wasn't it?"’ (Bio quoting Katie White, http://www.thetingtings.com/gb/the-band retrieved 23.58 20/10/08 )
‘"It started with me prancing round my mum's kitchen when I was 14 and I finished it when I was 17," she says, keen to downplay the significance of her teenage folly.’ (Interview with The Independent quoting Katie White, http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/features/tings-can-only-get-better-why-sudden-pop-success-has-not-been-easy-on-the-ting-tings-949113.html retrieved 00.05 21/10/08)
Yeah... the mid-90’s, that’s long enough ago to be not that embarrassing now. Except the band (TKO was their name) sought help from that common source of easy free publicity, the local press. As such, the Bolton Evening News newspaper has quite comprehensively documented the ‘career’ of TKO, available to the internet savvy via the This Is Lancashire website.
According to the handy ‘time-line’ they started playing in 1998 (late-nineties in my book), when White was 14/15 and split in December 2001 when White was 18. Her dad spent the completely insignificant sum of £130,000 in promoting and supporting the band. You hope he’s getting his cut of the Ting Ting kerching cash machine. (http://archive.thisislancashire.co.uk/2001/12/31/641843.html retrieved 00.14 21/10/08)
‘"Very soon you're going to hear that Jules used to write with George Michael… None of that is true, of course. But there are so many things floating around. It’s really funny. We love it. We try to use our imagination to figure out where did this particular thing come from."’ (agency interview with Jules De Martino, http://star-ecentral.com/news/story.asp?file=/2008/8/19/music/20080819082834&sec=music retrieved 00.24 21/10/08)They must have very short memories, or vivid imaginations. Because where did this lie come from? Probably Katie’s dad, who would have been the lead source for the Bolton Evening News story ‘Superstardom boost for TKO’ (first published Tuesday 27th Mar 2001).
What was this boost, you ask?
Why, it’s been provided ‘by the same talent that helped singer George Michael become a superstar. Jules De-Martino, a member of the former Wham star's songwriting team' who apparantly 'has penned four songs for the Leigh-based musical trio.’ (BEN http://archive.lancashireeveningtelegraph.co.uk/2001/3/27/686673.html retrieved 0.25 21/10/08)
So Jules and Katie started working together in 2001, eh?
Anyway, we’ll leave this first section with a quote from the farmer who couldn’t afford to buy his daughters a horse (‘The family couldn't afford their own’ – Independent interview, ibid) but could afford to sink over a hundred grand into girl-band, the man who apparently made up all that stuff about Jules writing for George Michael, the one and only Mr David White.
‘Mr White said: "Katie is keen to salvage something from this and she is in talks with George Michael's publishers… They are very excited about her vocal abilities and have penned some brilliant songs for her.”
Katie is in talks with a Manchester promoter about signing a record deal. According to Mr White, her first gig will be aired to 130 million people in 66 countries -- including Australia and New Zealand -- via satellite television on January 13.
He said: "Katie has benefited hugely from the experience of TKO. She has played more than 300 gigs and her confidence is sky-high… She has always been a dedicated musician and the strongest singer of any of the people who have been in the band”.’
(http://archive.thisislancashire.co.uk/2001/12/31/641843.html retrieved 00.14 21/10/08)
#2 – The Ting Tings Tell Tall Tales – the row with the indie label
‘The first public manifestation of The Ting Tings singular brilliance came with the independent release of That's Not My Name … In true DIY fashion, they pressed the record with limited edition, hand done artwork, mirroring the anything goes direction of the band itself. Buzz built in the North West and the record sold out in days’ (The Ting Tings official bio, http://www.thetingtings.com/gb/the-band retrieved 23.58 20/10/08).
The Ting Tings claim they self-funded and self-released their debut single. They claim it had sold out in days. And yet on their website, as picked up and documented by the NME, they claim something different…
‘"Unfortunately, when we put out our first vinyl copies of 'That's Not My Name' with a friend last year for kicks, she kept some back and is now trying to sell them to you guys for £60 apiece," they wrote. "This is nothing to do with us.
"We would never charge that money for our singles. Cashing in is shocking. We pressed up 500 copies which we put on our credit card because we had no money."’ (NME, http://www.nme.com/news/the-ting-tings/36703 , retrieved 00.48 21/10/08)
So actually, it was for a laugh, and it was on a friend’s label, and it didn’t sell out (unlike the band…).
But as we’re finding out ever so rapidly, the Ting Tings tell tall tales. Switchflicker Records refute the claims succinctly:
‘"Switchflicker Records supported The Ting Tings in the early stages of their career and released 1,000 copies of their debut single ('That's Not My Name'/'Great DJ') in June of last year," they explained in a statement. "Switchflicker has the invoice, order form and credit card receipt to prove that the label paid for these and not The Ting Tings. These seven-inch vinyl copies were sold at £2 each”.’ (NME, http://www.nme.com/news/the-ting-tings/36795 , retrieved 00.48 21/10/08)Yes, Switchflicker did sell them for 'market rate' on eBay. But The Ting Tings have failed to reply to rest of this. They haven’t even taken legal action. Which is strange if you remember that ‘Cashing in is shocking’ nonsense.
They could have easily afforded the lawyer what with the cash from Apple and from Columbia.
Oh yeah, they probably used that to pay back Katie’s dad…
#3 – That’s Not My Idea – stealing other people’s ideas
The really actually rather brilliant band Art Brut have not really made the inroads in the UK that they have elsewhere. Which is great news for Katie ‘n’ Jules. Where shall we start…
#3.a Form a Band
Art Brut released a single called ‘Formed A Band’ on Rough Trade in March 2004. It got to number 52 in the charts. It contains the refrain ‘Formed a band / We formed a band / Look at us / We formed a band’. (The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2004/dec/14/popandrock2 ,retrieved 01.10 21/10/08)
Inside The Ting Tings ‘We Started Nothing’ album artwork, on the back page of the CD booklet to be precise, there is a page devoted to the motto ‘We Formed A Band’, a motto that doesn’t feature in the albums lyrics. It charts at number 1.
Now, fair enough, Eddie Argos of Art Brut often uses that song to encourage the kids in the audience to form a band or write a fanzine or write a play. The first time I saw this picture, I thought Art Brut might be chuffed. But then…
#3.b Fan-Made 7" Custom Artwork.
‘Art Brut are the band whose single entitled Modern Art came out on 7inch vinyl in plain white sleeves, which fans decorated with paint, markers, and glitter provided at the launch party to create their own individual "artworks”.’ (Gullbuy, http://www.gullbuy.com/buy%5C2005%5C7_5/artbrut.cfm retrieved 01.13 21/10/08)
I should know, I bought one. It has paint splodges on it. That’s quite an original idea really, and in December 2004 the hand-painted vinyl copies and the standard CDs sold enough copies for ‘Modern Art’ to chart at number 49 in the UK singles chart.
But what’s this? Katie and Jules need a gimmick?
‘In an elaborate art hoax, they played dates in Manchester, London, Berlin and New York, inviting audience members to fashion their own artwork for the single and then trading the sleeves across countries and eventually continents. "We just have to do things our way," says Jules, "there's no point otherwise."’ (Ting Ting’s official bio, http://www.thetingtings.com/gb/the-band retrieved 23.58 20/10/08)
Shouldn’t that be Art Brut’s way? And if so, what's your point, Ting Tings?
#3.c Top Of The Pops.
Art Brut are properly obsessed with Top Of The Pops.
They have constantly reiterated their desire to appear on the programme since they emerged in 2003/4 (The Guardian, http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2004/dec/14/popandrock2 ,retrieved 01.10 21/10/08)
They were involved in a petition to appear on the last ever Top Of The Pops (NME http://www.nme.com/news/art-brut/23784 retrieved 01.21 21/10/08)
They are desperate for it to return, as a BBC interview with a member of the TOTP website confirms, even suggesting they use an Art Brut song for the theme tune (BBC, http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/chartblog/2008/03/art_brut_top_of_the_pops.shtml retrieved 01.23 21/10/08)
What’s that Jules De Martino from the Ting Tings? You’ve had a cool and original idea?
‘"Bring back TOTP and let us be the first band to play on it” (NME http://www.nme.com/news/the-ting-tings/40496 retrieved 01.28 21/10/08)
You can see why Eddie Argos from Art Brut is ‘all like hmmmmm…’ (http://the-eddie-argos-resource.blogspot.com/2008/10/and-im-all-like-hmmmmm.html)
As we saw in part 1 and part 2, The Ting Tings Tell Tall Tales. They also have their own unique bubble in which they make stuff up. As we saw in part 3, they are able to combine the genuine heartfelt ambition and ideas of Art Brut with the marketing capital of Sony / Columbia.
They’re selling this idea to the kids that they "Just do it because [they] love music." (BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/berkshire/content/articles/2008/07/22/ting_tings_interview_feature.shtml retrieved 01.33 21/10/08) and that "People talk about us as a fashion band, about the artwork. That's what we do, and we love doing that, but we don't sell that – we don't go out there saying we're an art band." (Independent, ibid)
But here they are, selling their songs to Apple to gain cool exposure and hard cash, selling their rights to Sony BMG Music Entertainment, lying to the kids, carrying out self-proclaimed 'art hoaxes' and stealing from a genuine ‘art band’.
And, let's face it, writing a song called 'Great DJ' isn't going to instantly appeal to the ego-centric folks who populate our airwaves...
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is why I hate The Ting Tings.