Razorlight’s Johnny Borrell criticises smartphone users, says they are ‘disseminating culture’

Singer proud not to own a smartphone or television

Razorlight frontman Johnny Borrell has explained why he prefers to live outside of the modern, digital age.

Borrell made headlines last year when he admitted he didn’t know about The Libertines reunion because he doesn’t read newspapers.

Speaking at the time, he said: “I don’t know anything about what’s going on in culture and I really have very little interest in it. As a musician I think you’re more likely to find out what’s going on by just walking down the street with a guitar than by having any clue about who’s playing which festival, or whatever.”


Now, Borrell has appeared in a radio programme on BBC Radio 4, ‘Is Ignorance Bliss?’, on whether it is better not knowing things in a time saturated with information.

Borrell told journalist Sathnam Sanghera of his choice to own a “Nokia phone that looks like it’s from 1994”: “I’m happy to confess that I, as a citizen of the 21st century, do not possess a smartphone; I do not have a television; I do not read newspapers and I am in no way integrated into the information gathering and disseminating of our culture and our time”.

“I think the world is in front of you and there’s more than enough world to interact with and to understand. Now, at the moment I see schools of people interacting with the world that’s in their little computer in their hand, but not interacting with the world that’s around them… But you’re interacting with a version of the world that’s in your hand, whether it’s in print or in your iPhone, whatever it is. Meanwhile the world that is around you, you’re not interacting with.”

Borrell continued: “[Going offline] is a very ancient idea. I mean you could read the Dhammapada and it would tell you that the physical manifestations of the world are just that.”

“The actual truth of the world is far deeper and within and the outward manifestations of the mundane are just that.”

Listen to the full programme here. Borrell’s interview begins at the 20.30 mark.

NMELee Brown/NME

Borrell’s 2013 solo album sold just 594 copies in its first week.

Borrell responded to the poor sales of his debut solo effort by saying “I would rather play to 80 people than 80,000”.

Borrell said: “It is being heard and appreciated by as many people as possible! It is! If that’s 500 people, that’s 500 people. If those are the 500 people that are open enough at this point in time to hear this record, fucking fantastic man.”

He continued: “On a personal level, I feel like I connected with songwriting again. I would rather play to 80 people who are switched on enough, and unprejudiced enough, to get what’s going on with this band right now, than to play to 80,000 people who are there because that’s the CD that’s out this year or whatever.”