Razorlight at SXSW, 2009
Garage rock revival
|Labels||Mercury Music/Vertigo Records (UK) (Universal Music Group)
Label type: Major
Razorlight is an English-Swedish indie rock band formed in 2002. They are primarily known in their home countries, having topped the charts with the 2006 single "America" and its parent self-titled album, their second. The band consists of lead singer and rhythmic guitarist Johnny Borrell, guitarist Björn Ågren, bass guitarist Carl Gustaf Dalemo and drummer David Sullivan-Kaplan ("Skully").
At the beginning of their career Johnny Borrell's new outfit spent six months rehearsing in a decaying factory space in east London. After his earlier incarnation as a solo acoustic singer songwriter supporting bands like The Libertines Johnny Borrell fashioned Razorlight as an intense electric rock band with hooky songs and took the band out on the road. On 17th September 2002 they played their first show with all four founder members at London Dingwalls, supporting The Von Bondies. Early recordings took place at Liam Watson's Toerag Studios after manager Roger Morton took rehearsal demos into A&Rs at Warner Music Group. The band worked with Watson and early collaborator John Fortis to produce the tracks "Rip It Up", "Rock 'n' Roll Lies" and "In the City". Off the back of these tracks they began getting serious A&R heat due to the songs' success on radio stations such as John Kennedy Show on XFM.
Razorlight's debut album, Up All Night, was released on June 28, 2004, reaching number 3 in the UK album charts. 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 such as The Strokes. Following the release of their successful debut album Up All Night in summer 2004, drummer Christian Smith-Pancorvo left the group and was replaced by Andy Burrows. Up All Night was re-issued in April 2005, including the previously unreleased single "Somewhere Else", which peaked at Number 2.
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 being the only band that did not donate their extra revenue to charity. The band subsequently claimed that due to their "fledgling status", they were unable to make such a commitment.
Razorlight contributed the song "Kirby's House" to the War Child charity album Help!: A Day in the Life. The song, which was originally over 4 minutes long, was later cut down almost in half and re-mastered, appearing as the eighth track on the band's second album, Razorlight.
Continuing their association with The Who which started at the Live 8 gig, Razorlight debuted some of new songs from their forthcoming second album live on March 30, 2006, in one of a chain of Teenage Cancer Trust concerts, organised by Roger Daltrey. Later that year, on July 2, they played to a sellout Hyde Park Calling gig, where they were preceded by The Zutons, and opened for The Who. The band went on to play on the beach opposite Brighton's West Pier on July 12 in a free concert as part of a Vodafone TBA event broadcast on Channel 4.
Razorlight released their second album Razorlight on July 17, 2006, in the United Kingdom and it debuted at #1 in the UK Albums Chart a week later. It received mixed reviews, Q magazine giving it a rare 5/5 rating, whilst Pitchfork Media gave it 2.8/10. Razorlight is the album by which many of the original Razorlight fans lost interest in the band, and some accused them of 'selling-out' by diluting their raw, edgy rock sound to cater for a new, radio-friendly mainstream audience. The lead single from the album, "In the Morning" was released as a single on July 3, 2006, which peaked at #3 in the UK Singles Chart. To date, it is their third biggest single after "Somewhere Else", which peaked at #2, and "America", which peaked at #1. It also reached #2 on iTunes. In 2007, Razorlight were nominated for two BRIT Awards - one for 'Best British Band' and the other for 'Best Song', "America". They were also nominated for two NME Brit Awards for 'Best Band' and 'Best Album'.
Razorlight supported Queen + Paul Rodgers on July 15, in front of 60,000 people. This gig had been rescheduled following the July 2005 London bombings. In December of the same year, they supported Oasis, at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. They also supported The Rolling Stones at their gigs in Cologne and Paris. During the Christmas season the band played an intimate show at the Railway Inn in Winchester. They were supported by up and coming London band Captain Phoenix, who are fronted by drummer Andy Burrows' younger brother Ben. The band played their biggest tour to date in October-November 2006 and also supported Richard Ashcroft in his homecoming gig at the Lancashire County Cricket Club on June 17. They played Reading on 24 August, and Leeds on 25 August 2007. They also played the Main Stage on 19 May in Preston for Radio 1's Big Weekend alongside bands such as Kasabian and the Kaiser Chiefs. On July 7, 2007, Razorlight performed at both the UK leg of Live Earth at Wembley Stadium, London, and T in the Park in Balado, Scotland. In November 2006 the band had to be hospitalised after traces of radioactive poisoning was detected on their plane. Their British Airways return flight from Moscow was a scheduled route used by Russian ex-spy Alexander Litvinenko. The same month they supported the Mando Diao "Ode to Ochrasy Tour" in Germany.
Razorlight was intended to perform for BBC Children in Need 2008, but cancelled due to Borrell reporting vocal problems. The band still made a donation to the charity.
After many months of producing new material, some of which was written on the Isle of Tiree in the Inner Hebrides, Razorlight released their third studio album, Slipway Fires, on November 3, 2008 with the lead single, "Wire To Wire", being released on October 20, 2008. The second single taken from Slipway Fires was Hostage of Love; however, having received little critical or commercial attention, it failed to enter the charts. As a result, a planned release of 'Burberry Blue Eyes', as the album's third single, were dropped.
On 5 March 2009, NME.com confirmed that Andy Burrows had quit the band due to 'personal reasons'. Johnny Borrell was adamant that the band would continue, although he would miss the drummer. The Winchester born drummer has opted for a quieter life away from the band's hectic touring schedule (although in 2009 he joined American band We Are Scientists). New Yorker David 'Skully' Sullivan-Kaplan took over the drums, initially it was reported he would be in the band as a touring member until the end of 2009, although since then he has become an official member. With a top 5 album and single in Germany, the band toured America, Australia and Europe before returning to the UK for shows in May at The O2 and Manchester Evening News Arena followed by UK festivals.
At the end of their Slipway Fires tour Razorlight previewed a new song called Dr. Boushitan in several German cities.