The Internet is Written in Ink delves into musicians' HTML attics, searching to see what remains of their earliest forays online. Sometimes there's astonishing early material that has only been heard by a handful of people. Sometimes it's just them being a dick in the comments section of Gawker.
Thinking about it now: it seems ludicrous Melvin Benn - and anyone in attendance, really - wanted Razorlight to headline the 2007 Reading Festival. In the years that followed the band went through an entire line-up change - with the group’s self-described consummate frontman Johnny Borrell being the only original member remaining - and eventually broke up. In the group’s wake, all that’s left are the headlines: Johnny Borrell riding a motorcycle through Kirsten Dunst’s living room, Johnny Borrell releasing a solo album which sold abysmally, Johnny Borrell announcing “you can find more truth by walking down the street with a guitar than reading a newspaper”, and other infamous JBo quotes, ranging from “Dylan’s making the chips, I’m drinking champagne” to “I’m a genius”.
All things said, their debut album isn’t entirely unlistenable - “Golden Touch” can still turn an indie disco from sub-zero temperatures to infinitely lit; “Don’t Go Back to Dalston” resonates even more now half of the place is being turned into lifeless apartment complexes; “Rip it Up” is a banger. Their second record still blows though: “America” will never not be nauseating. But aside from the music, considering what’s happened with the band over the years, we should have seen it coming, really. Over the past week or so, the band’s original press biography has been unearthed and it’s one golden hole of glory. Take a look at the below excerpt on how they came up with the name Razorlight:
“They existed for two months without a name, until one night at a Warholian squat party in a derelict factory in the East End, their singer found himself speaking in tongues. Improvising lyrics at the end of the set, Johnny was passed down words from the watchful muses above, and out of his mouth came the sound…rezorright… raisaaarite….razorlight”
Thinking about Johnny Borrell speaking in tongues is enough to give me a hernia. But that someone - whether Johnny Borrell himself or a press agent - wrote this up is too much for me. The rest of the biography paints Borrell as some sort of Dickensian character, fated to emerge from the blackened soot clutching a notebook; scripted to become the bohemian superstar destined to take the world by the reins and steer it to greatness. Here’s some more quotes:
“Night after long night they'd been holed up in a rat-plagued low-boho rehearsal studio on the East edge of town, shaping the scribbled visions of urchin-savant Johnny into grooved, twitching, adrenalised guitar pieces and making occasional live foreys to support The Von Bondies or The Libertines”
“Razorlight have spirit like the Caspian Sea has oil”
“The plan was to avoid forming a band, but then the songs that were taking shape in Johnny's battered notebook - scribbled on bus rides, in bars, in the dead of night, while assaulted by the big city, by febrile girls, and by fake culture”
“Two years ago he was to be found hanging around at Libertines gigs, looking like a young Mick Jones from The Clash, clutching a novel by William Faulkner and a large but tatty book of scrawled, semi complete midnight-eyed lyrics and poems.”
“You could spend a week trying to pin down what's exposed in the razorlight beam. Something London, something New York. A kind of serrated romance”
“One night he lost his entire book of lyrics in a bet gone wrong.”
“They are a bet, gone right”
The biography was presumably written back in the early 2000s, shortly after Razorlight formed. We can now exclusively reveal an exclusive extract from the soon-to-be-(self)-published version Borrell plans to release later this year*
“Johnny knew he was a genius. But soon, the femme fatales he once fell for started to “become a problem”. So he went to a “live on an Hebridian island for four months with a population of 250 people”. Almost ten years later, there were no more antiquated amps to be tinkered with. Johnny’s lyric book, for which he once carried without nether a moment it being out of sight, became infallible, tattered with musings on the Kooks, ex-bandmates, the glory days of being one of the boys in the band. Razorlight were over. So, like Napoleon and Ishmael before him, he embarked on a one-man cruise into super infinite superstardom - to becoming the lost soul he’d always wanted. A bohemian; honest by nature, and true at heart. One of the last of the likely lads”.
*We just made it up, obviously.