Decidedly not-so-slick three-chord garage rockers Razorlight made their rounds on the Campus Invasion tour with Muse and played at Coachella. Now they have British festivals lined up for the summer — and they are loving every minute of it.
"There's nothing that makes you a good band like gigging and all that touring," frontman Johnny Borrell explained. "I think we've taken every single show incredibly seriously and given it everything we've got. We don't have off nights. I think that's made us into the band that we are live."
One of their upcoming gigs include a mainstage spot following Snoop Dogg at Scotland's T in the Park festival on July 10, part of a lineup that also boasts Green Day and Queens of the Stone Age.
Formerly plagued with problems on the road, including a bout with acute stage fright and laryngitis (see "End Of Razorlight's Tour Marred By Onstage Freak-Out, Illness"), Borrell can now see playing the U.S. as a fun challenge. "Every time you go [to America] you get your arse kicked," Borrell said. "And then you wait until it heals again, and then you go back there again and get you're arse kicked again and keep doing the same thing — until one day, you don't get your arse kicked."
Even though the challenges he faced were difficult, the experience paid off in songwriting. "It certainly gave me thinking time because I wasn't allowed to talk for 10 days," Borrell explained. "I saw a doctor in Beverly Hills, and he said, 'You've got to take complete voice rest,' which was a shame because we didn't get to play in Los Angeles."
In the midst of all this touring, fans are starting to buzz about the new song "Somewhere Else," which was released as a single and added as bonus track on the reissue of their album Up All Night in the U.K.
According to Borrell, the song is something he wrote some time ago while on tour. "I always knew the chorus was a bit of a killer," he revealed. "And we tried it in a few different guises, but it never really worked. I was desperate to get it out, just to get some new music out. And we sort of had to stand there and convince everyone around us that it was a good idea to do it, and we did. And it's a good song."
Drummer Andy Burrows has settled in nicely (he joined up when original thumper Christian Smith-Pancorvo departed), and feels good about being on some new recordings as well. "It is nice to have played on the record finally," Burrows said. "I was on some B-sides live, but this is the first proper thing, so it feels great."
Borrell has a philosophy about sending out some new music between records. "I think you've always got to keep moving forward," he explained. "Because if you don't, you'll die on your feet."
The group has already made some progress on a second album. "We went out to Los Angeles, to North Hollywood, to record with Ethan Johns, who has produced records for Kings of Leon and Ryan Adams," Borrell revealed. "I'm just a big fan of the second Kings of Leon record [Aha Shake Heartbreak], so we went and did it with Ethan — a lovely chap who has a fantastic beard."
Razorlight's drug past and tour troubles may make headlines, but the group did take the Best New Band Award from NME (chosen over the Killers, Kasabian, Bloc Party and Babyshambles) — and the band isn't worried about longevity. "I think there's a lot of bands that you know clearly mean it and some that don't," Borrell said. "The ones that really mean it connect with people, and I think it'll work. I think the bandwagon-hopping people won't make it. There's the odd one that slips through and the odd good [band] that doesn't break through. We'll ponder the percentages later."