Two years ago, British duo the Ting Tings — drummer Jules De Martino and guitarist-vocalist Katie White — huddled around a laptop in their San Francisco hotel to preview top-secret tracks from their sophomore album, soon set to follow their platinum, Grammy-nominated 2008 debut, “We Started Nothing.”
They beamed over bouncy glam-rockers such as “Guggenheim,” a logical successor to the then-just-released flagship single “Hands.” The team, it seemed, was back to reclaim chart turf it staked out with irresistible hits such as “That’s Not My Name.”
And then: nothing.
The Ting Tings simply dropped off the pop culture radar. They finally resurfaced only this month with a thoroughly retooled record, “Sounds From Nowheresville,” minus “Hands” and featuring a completely different spoken-word “Guggenheim.”
“We felt the first ‘Guggenheim’ was … I don’t know, too nice,” says White, who appears with the Ting Tings at the Fillmore on Sunday.
“We just got to a point where we totally didn’t like that [earlier] album, because a lot of it was dance-based and when we listened to the radio, suddenly everything sounded dance-based. We wanted our second album to be the right kind — we wanted it to be pop, but it also had to be creative and really mean something to us.”
They had moved from their native Manchester, England, to Berlin, where they wrote “Nowheresville.”
“It was a new language, new culture, we didn’t know anybody, and nobody cared who we were. We thought that would be a new challenge,” De Martino says.
But once reality set in, White says, “We packed all our things and moved to Murcia, a little town in Spain, and completely isolated ourselves to work out exactly what we wanted this album to be.”
The pair found unusual inspiration in Spain. On a mountainside in Ibiza, for instance, White was arguing on her cellphone outside the studio door, while her bandmate idly recorded himself strumming bass on the other side.
“When I came back in, Jules said, ‘You have to hear this!’ and played me his bass line under my argument,” White says. “And we were like ‘Oh, we have to write a song like that!’ So we wrote this very spoken-word thing with oohs and aahs, got ‘Guggenheim’ in on the chorus, and we just loved it.”
Six new tracks later (like the chanted slap-and-pluck single “Hang It Up”), the Ting Tings re-emerged, scrapping everything but four cuts from their German sessions.
“We could spend a month on a song and then one day have a bad day and just delete it,” White says. “It’s just how we work. We’re perfectionists.”
The Ting Tings
Where: The Fillmore. 1805 Geary Blvd., S.F.
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Contact: (415) 346-6000, www.livenation.com