“It was the most gloriously dysfunctional relationship you could imagine,” reflects Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell on the meteoric rise and eventual demise of his band’s original (minus first drummer Shïan Smith-Pancorvo) line-up. He’s speaking in Ben Lowe’s new fly-on-the-wall rock doc Fall To Pieces, premiering today at the Raindance Film Festival in London. Whether you loved or hated them, from 2004-2007 Borrell, guitarist Björn Ågren, bassist Carl Dalemo and drummer Andy Burrows were kings of the British indie revival. They racked up five top 10 singles, a Number One album, performed for millions at Live8 and headlined Reading and Leeds. Heck, at the time even Brandon Flowers gushed to NME about how he wished he’d written a song as great as ‘America’.
But at the same time, Borrell’s dick-ish boasts (“Bob Dylan’s making chips and I’m drinking champagne”) along with his increasingly fraught relationship with drummer Burrows, which once saw the pair trading blows at Camden boozer The Hawley Arms in the mid-noughties, shows that implosion was almost inevitable. If you’re thinking all this was well-documented at the time, you’d be right. Yet Lowe’s documentary, named after 2006 single ‘Before I Fall To Pieces’ recounts the ‘untold story’ via new interviews cut together with archive footage. Awkward clips of Dalemo mumbling that Borrell was “very nice at the beginning” only confirm what we already knew.
Borrell and Burrows’ love-hate relationship sits at the centre of the film. In many ways it’s not dissimilar from Matt and Luke Goss’ rocky bromance in 2019 Bros documentary After The Screaming Stops and at times it’s almost as cringe-worthy and David Brent-like. Borrell reeling off zingers such as “this is the weed room, very important”; or embarrassingly showing off his boxing skills for the camera before comically consulting a seagull on Brighton Pier are all moments when the often-mocked Razorlight frontman really doesn’t help himself. However, when Borrell and Burrows do eventually reunite after 11 years of not talking, it’s a genuinely touching moment. Each confesses past insecurities and they finally clear the air.
In the second half of the film, Lowe focuses on the band’s rehearsals for a big reunion gig at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 2021. It’s less explosive, but as Borrell admits that he needs to take his ego out of the equation, he displays a warm sense of self-awareness that has hitherto been absent. Could Razorlight finally be back on even ground once more?
- Director: Ben Lowe
- Featuring: Johnny Borrell, Björn Ågren, Carl Dalemo and Andy Burrows
- Release date: November 4 (Raindance Film Festival)