Erika Goldring, Getty Images The four members of Little Big Town will…
- Posted on Apr 16th 2012 3:00PM by Marwa Hamad
The fight to stay authentic culminated in the divisive sophomore release, Sounds from Nowheresville. Reviews ranged from "a masterclass in modern pop creation" to "sluggish" and "deliberately bad," but bright-lipped, blonde-haired and bold-voiced singer Katie White says she pays the haters no mind.
"To be honest, I stopped Googling our band when -- I think it was on YouTube a year ago -- people were having a discussion about how abnormally long my arms were and I was thinking 'I'm gonna get arm issues!' so I stopped," White tells Spinner, laughing.
"I have got quite long arms, but I don't particularly need to read it."
White concedes that the duo polarizes people, just as any satisfying listen would.
"We're just one of those weird bands where we're not indie cool super hipsters, but we're not a pop band that's all shiny. We're just this weird thing that floats between the two," says White.
Four years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to switch on the radio and not have the "weird" duo's chart-topping hit "That's Not My Name" shouted at you (and you'd have been even harder-pressed not to sing along). White told the Guardian earlier this year that the Ting Tings would rather puke on their own feet than be heard on the radio, but she now insists that it was "absolutely the total opposite" of what she really meant.
The singer says that she and guitarist-drummer Jules De Martino loved the attention that came with their first release and would welcome "radio or TV or world domination" as a bonus this time around, but that they took an altogether different approach with Sounds From Nowheresville.
"We realized we wanted to make an album like a playlist," says White. "We felt like it would reflect the way that culture is at the moment, where you're almost greedy. If somebody says to me, 'Oh, check out this new band,' and there's no Youtube video, I feel cheated. I want this huge thing assaulting my senses and I think that's what people are like at the moment."
The band initially planned to release an album in 2010 but found the generic sounding pop songs they came up with unacceptable, prompting them to trash some of their tracks, which was apparently traumatizing to their newfound fans.
"We scrapped a few, which seems to be a big deal to people," says White. "We did that on the first album but no one knew or cared. That's how we work. We're kind of quite brutal."
White and De Martino decided to "live our lives a bit" and "find things that piss us off and write about them," then secluded themselves somewhere in the south of Spain -- nowheresville, to be exact -- to record. (The rowdy fifth track "Guggenheim" was partially inspired by a "massive row" White had over the phone on a mountain in Ibiza that De Martino had surreptitiously recorded then played back to her, saying, "Listen, it's like spoken word, it's amazing.")
The end result was a 10-track album that served as a true reflection of the duo's quirky vision.
"I think it's important to our band's identity that it's authentic and squiffy 'round the edges and it's not too polished," says White. "Otherwise they'd just be big pop songs."
Still, for an album that aimed to avoid being overtly pop, certain inspirations behind it might come as a surprise.
"We would literally sit and be like, 'I really liked the Spice Girls and TLC when I was like 15, they were my favourite '90s girl bands. Should we attempt it? Should we do this?' And it was that kind of, 'Should we? No, we probably shouldn't, but we're going to anyway,' feeling that's quite interesting as a writer."
While drawing inspiration from '90s girl groups might not seem a stretch, according to White the Ting Tings may reveal some far broader interests in the future.
"We half want to do some kind of country album," she says, saying they'd infuse the creative process into their tour schedule. "Just literally sit there and go, 'right, we've got four weeks, let's just write songs and put it out.' We find it fascinating. We hear it constantly on the radio, our driver's just listening to country music. It's amazing 'cause it's so alien to us."