Razorlight interview

It was certainly one of the the more original reasons for leaving a band: “Health Differences” were what caused Christian Smith Pancorvo to quit the Razorlight fold at a rather crucial stage of the band’s career, namely just as their first album “Up All Night” was being released in the UK. Andy Burrows, in a very real sense, saved the band in the nick of time, being selected from hurried auditions and crowned with the ultimate Johnny Borrell accolade: “Andy is a one-in-a-million drummer”.
It’s questionable whether Andy, who has spent much of 2004 touring an album on which he didn’t play, is “health compatible” with Johnny and the Swedish contingent of the band. Johnny’s outspoken – um – self-belief and tendency for Libertines-style lurid drug-related headline-grabbing isn’t, on the face of it, comparable to Andy’s reputation as the “nicest man in rock”. “I fucking love Johnny, he’s great”, he will assert at the beginning of an evening’s drinking. By the end, he’ll be claiming, “He’s a bastard”. But you just said you loved him? “Yeah, I do, I love him”.
No one can deny that Andy has made a huge difference to the live impact of Razorlight or that Johnny’s assessment of his skills is accurate. Luckily, Andy comes from a musical background which has prepared him ideally for this position: For years, he has played in bands with one Peter Hobbs, a similar rock and roll figurehead to Johnny with just a little bit less bravado. Andy had a similar love-hate relationship with Hobbs too.
It’s been a hard year. Spending a very rare couple of free days in his home town of Winchester over Christmas, Andy seemed exhausted and bemused, yet thrilled to be living the rock and roll lifestyle he has craved: “It’s just completely crazy. I don’t get any time to see my friends any more. Since I joined the band, I’ve flown twenty-three times – and I hate flying!” Tried valium? “No, my tranquillizer of choice is whiskey. I start ordering it the moment the plane takes off, and when they refuse to serve me any more, I get the others to order it on my behalf.”
So will the States take to Razorlight? “We’re doing it the traditional way, by coast to coast touring. It’s going to be hard, just traveling with a driver and a tech.” (Razorlight spent the back end of 2004 opening for the Manic Street Preachers in arenas, and later this year have landed the ultimate career maker, a US stadium tour with U2). Meantime, the band has recorded its first songs with Andy drumming, but isn’t it frustrating that he isn’t on the album people are listening to? “Well, it is weird playing someone else’s drum parts, but it’s a nice feeling that there are already two new songs in the set where the drumming is all ‘mine’. My favorite songs to play are ‘Rip It Up’, because that’ s the song we always open with and it gets a great response. I also have affection for ‘Golden Touch’ because that’s the one I auditioned with.”
What does Andy feel he has brought to the band? “Well, a new enthusiasm, I guess. And people tell me we’re now a lot more solid live. For myself, this has definitely been the best year of my life, because I left school seven years ago and at last I’ve got a job!”
My guess is that American music lovers will be initially sceptical about Razorlight, because Johnny Borrell is so full of shit. But they will be won over, because he really does walk it like he talks it, and the rest of the band never let him down. “Up All Night” has a pleasing identity and unity of purpose, like a London version of Lou Reed, with impressively understated tinny production which really works. There’s not a poor track on it, and in “Golden Touch” and “Stumble and Fall”, a couple of classic songs.?
This time round, the only mention of Andy on the cover artwork is in the Thanks to … category. Remembering that Andy is a fine songwriter himself, next time round (assuming they haven’t collapsed from exhaustion), his name will be a lot more prominent.

From Amplifier magazine

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Richmond Fontaine interview

From Portland, Oregon, here’s a brand-new band … hold on, they may be brand new to UK audiences, but in February 2005, Richmond Fontaine celebrates its tenth anniversary. Let Willy Vlautin introduce his band to you and explain the fantastic things that have happened to them over the past year:
“Well, first is Dan Eccles, he’s our guitarist. He’s one of the most positive
and cool guys you’d ever meet. Plus he’s a madman on the guitar.
Sean Oldham is the drummer. When we began playing with him is really when Richmond Fontaine came into its own. He’s an amazing drummer who can play any style he wants and he’s so good he could probably read a book and play all our tunes and watch TV at the same time. Plus he’s an expert
electrian, mechanic, plumber, and carpenter.
Dave Harding is really the heart of Richmond Fontaine. He’s a huge music fan and an encylopedia of knowledge about it. He and I have been at this a long time and still there is no better guy to get a drink with. Plus he’s just a great, great bass player, my favorite bass player around.”
It is evident that these guys are the greatest possible of friends, who like nothing better than gruelling tours such as the one they undertook in Europe in the autumn:
“Hell, just getting to get out of the States was a huge success for us. Only
Sean had been to Europe. I’d never really left the States, nor
had the the other guys. So it was a great adventure. To think that I’d get to travel to the UK and to Ireland and Norway and Spain. Those are things you dream about but never think will really happen. And then to have people actually like our band was even more exciting, and the people we met were really nice and friendly and we all wanted to move to the country we were in at the time. If we were in Spain we’d all say, ‘we should just move here.’ And we’d talk about it and dream about it. It was the same in Ireland and everywhere else. So all in all, a real lucky break.”?
On the other hand, it takes much more than luck for a band to break through in such a dramatic way, and much of the credit must go to Willy’s episodic, story-telling style of songwriting:
“I write in a style of a narrator a lot of the time. I’m usually trying to tell
a story and I want the music to be the soundtrack for the lyrics.
That’s where the band is so great. They’re good at taking the folk song I bring them and changing it into something different altogether. The postcards came from when we’d be on the road in the States and I’d send my grandmother postcards from every town we’d go to. She was one of nicest people I knew so I could never tell her anything except about the weather or about what a great time I was having. That I was making money and being safe and that I wasn’t drinking too much and I was saving for my retirement. All lies, I hate to say. So I started writing these crazy postcards for fun, to let off steam. Walter (a character from the latest album, Post To Wire) came out of that. I get a little nuts on the road, and he’s one of those personalities that comes out after hanging out with the same four guys and drinking every day. Then when JD Foster, our producer, came, I told him about wanting to do a spoken word series on the record and he thought it was a good idea and we gave it a try.”
Anticipation is high for the band’s newly-completed seventh album, “The Fitzgerald”. Willy (who has also just been signed up for a book deal with Faber and Faber for his first novel) has an interesting explanation for why Richmond Fontaine’s progress up the slippery ladder of success has been so gradual:
“Right now we’re just practising and getting ready to eventually hit the road in the States. But all in all we’re taking it pretty easy. That’s how we’ve lasted so long, we just don’t work too hard.”

From Amplifier magazine

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