Razorlight - Biography

Razorlight

Razorlight are an Anglo-Swedish band formed in England during the summer of 2002 around 22 year old singer/writer Johnny Borrell.

Band members

Their lineup is as follows:

  • Johnny Borrell - vocals, guitar
  • Björn Ågren - guitar
  • Carl Dalemo - bass
  • Andy Burrows - drums (since 2004)

Past Members:

  • Christian (Smith) Pancorvo - drums (2003-2004)

Their debut album, Up All Night, was released on June 28 2004, reaching number 3 in the UK album charts on 4 July. The critical reception was generally good, receiving good reviews from NME, Q magazine and Billboard, although they were also accused of lack of imagination and unoriginality for allegedly borrowing ideas from other influential bands, notably The Strokes. They appear to polarize opinion. NME wrote that the album: "bristles with passion, energy and, most importantly, amazing songs", while they were described elsewhere as "nearly everything wrong with rock and roll today". Their fans, though, embrace the music for its simple melodies and multi-layered, easy-going compositions.

Frontman Johnny Borrell caused some controversy and surprise when he likened himself to musical legend Bob Dylan, quipping "If Dylan's making the chips then I'm drinking the champagne". This led to suggestions of self-promotion. This statement was taken out of context however as Borrell was comparing his and Dylan's first albums, not their overall career. The band became very popular on the London music scene when they arrived earlier in the year. Large demand caused the band to play extra shows, including a 7,000+ capacity gig at Alexandra Palace. The album was heavily marketed in the UK. Up All Night is now recognized as one of the pre-eminent albums of 2004.

On the band's 2004 release, Up All Night, Johnny Borrell recorded his phone number into the track called "Vice". The number is (supposedly) 07761010233

Up All Night was re-issued in April 2005, including previously unreleased single "Somewhere Else", which peaked at Number 2. It was their biggest hit single to date.

In July 2005, the band performed at Hyde Park, London, as part of the Live 8 series of concerts. However, the band came under fire for not donating their extra revenue to charity. Razorlight claim that due to their "fledgling status", they're unable to make such a commitment.

Razorlight supported [[Queen + Paul Rodgers]] on Friday 15th July 2005, in front of 60,000 of a crowd. This gig had been rescheduled following the July 2005 London bombings.

They also appear as themselves in series 2 of The Mighty Boosh, in the episode 'The Priest and The Beast'.

Razorlight supported Oasis in December 2005, at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. The band also supported Richard Ashcroft in his homecomeing gig at the Lancashire County Cricket Club on June 17, 2006.

On April 3rd 2006, they streamed a new song from their new album on their website, from around 1800 BST to 1900 BST. According to NME.COM, it was called "Pop Song 2006". According to an interview with Planet Sound, this was only a working title and was a tribute to R.E.M.'s Pop Song '89. The band planned on calling it "Small Town Heroes", but never told the production people.

The band appeared in front of Brighton's West Pier on the 12 July 2006 in a free concert as part of a Vodafone TBA event to be broadcast on Channel 4. Razorlight's released their eponymous second album on July 17 2006. It was preceded by single "In The Morning" on July 3rd. The album was welcomed with critical acclaim, getting strong reviews. Q lavished praise on the album stating "There are many things to cherish about this record... its length, sound, simplicity, sheer brass balls and its songs... And if making the best guitar album since Definitely Maybe is what's required, then job done. 5/5", whilst NME gave it 8/10 and The Times, The Independent & Guardian all gave the album 4/5, sparking a strong return for the band. However, there were disagreeing voices, most notably in The Sunday Times review on the 16 July, which gave it 1/5 and called it a 'painful' listen. Not that it did the album any harm, it went straight to #1 in the UK. The future single, "America", promises to be a defining point for Razorlight.

The band have also been repeatedly accused of stealing ideas from British Sea Power. Razorlight have placed plastic trees on the stage, and British Sea Power frequently adorn the stage with foliage. Borrell's clothing also repeatedly bears a striking resemblance to that of British Sea Power frontman Yan.

Borrell has also had arguments with other bands most notably new indie favourites The Kooks branding their music 'shit' and the lead singer 'boring'. He said "He models his style on me. And that record is the most horrible thing I've ever heard. It sounds like the band are literally rolling over, sticking their arse in the air and begging Radio 1 to fuck them. I heard their single on the radio the other day and it sounds like fucking Avril Lavigne! If he can live with himself after that production, and if he feels like he has to slag people off to keep up, then I'm sure his nights are long and those moments of doubt are really painful. So fuck The Kooks. Fuck 'em!"

The Kooks Lead singer Luke Pritchard retorted, dedicating their recent success single Naïve to Borrell.

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