Johnny Borrell on Razorlight’s new album ‘Olympus Sleeping’ – and correcting his ‘big mouth reputation’

"If people give me the honour of the space to listen, that's success for me"

Johnny Borrell claims that the new Razorlight album ‘Olympus Sleeping’ returns to the essence of the band, as well as reflecting on past ‘myths’ printed about him and reported outlandish claims.

Watch our video interview with Borrell above

Described by Borrell as ‘a love letter to rock n’ roll’, the band’s long-awaited fourth album marks their first since 2008’s ‘Slipway Fires’. After a decade away, the frontman says that he was missing ‘the power and energy’ of the band – and the pure abandon that he’d always intended.

“I didn’t make a Razorlight record for a long time because any time that I make a record, I’ll only do it if I feel that I can really put my best into it,” Borrell told NME. “I never quit Razorlight, and I knew that I would do it again when I felt like it was inspiring and the right time.

“There’s a framework to Razorlight as a writer and as a band. I formed Razorlight because I would go and watch bands, then I just made the band that I wanted to see live. At the start, the framework was based on The Pixies‘ first album and Buzzcocks. It was like, ‘Don’t waste time on any arrangement.’

“That was the case on our first record, pretty much our second, and we drifted a bit on our third record. On this record, I was really re-embracing that framework. It’s in that same language as early Razorlight.”

Having topped the charts, sold millions and headlined Reading & Leeds, how does Borrell measure success for the band in the climate of 2018?

“The simple answer is to communicate. That’s always been the point. When I started writing songs I was too shy to talk to people. Every song on the first album was like leaving a voicemail to someone, and this album is the same. With the exception of ‘America’, every Razorlight song has been something personal that I couldn’t have said otherwise. If people give me the honour of the space to listen, that’s success for me.”

We put previous quotes about sky-high ambitions for the band to him, but Borrell claims his supposed past claims have been grossly exaggerated – and often invented.

“I don’t know if I ever said that I wanted my band to reach that many people. In fact, I’ve no recollection of saying that whatsoever!” he laughed. “I remember doing an interview with Krissi [Murison, former NME Editor] and talking about why bands were sitting down with the NME. This was a time when it was in print, and very often things you said would be taken out of context, and very often people would be upset about it. You’d be like, ‘I just didn’t say that’. I’m not sure if I ever said ‘I want to hit this many people’. Maybe we could fact check it. If it’s in print, then it doesn’t mean I said it.”

So how does he feel about ‘the myth’ of ‘loud mouth Borrell’?

“I’ve probably got fewer feelings about him than anyone else,” he admitted. “I feel really pleased now that everything’s filmed and visual that we can just sit here and talk. It was certainly super-frustrating to read things about people you’d never met who were supposedly in your life, or things you’d never done.”

Watch our full video interview with Borrell above as he discusses his plans for the future of Razorlight, more new music, and what to expect from their tour.

Check back at NME soon for more of our video interview with Johnny Borrell.

Razorlight, 2018

The band’s upcoming UK tour dates are below. Tickets are available here.

Tuesday December 4 – Glasgow The Old Fruitmarket
Wednesday December 5 – Sheffield O2 Academy
Thursday December 6 – Liverpool O2 Academy
Saturday December 8 – Bristol SWX
Monday December 10 – Birmingham The O2 Institute
Tuesday December 11 – Brighton Concorde 2
Thursday December 13 – Nottingham Rock City
Friday December 14 – London O2 Forum Kentish Town
Sunday December 16 – Manchester O2 Ritz
Monday December 17 – Newcastle O2 Academy
Tuesday December 18 – Leeds O2 Academy
Wednesday December 19 – Cambridge The Junction