Former Razorlight member and solo artist, Andy Burrows, talks to Andrew Carolan about Johnny Borrell, and band hopping
In 2009, Andy Burrows parted ways with the hit indie-rock band Razorlight, citing “personal differences” as his reason for the split. Today, he stands in a position where all things seem possible, musically at least. He is the drummer of We Are Scientists, has made an album with Tom Smith of The Editors and released two solo albums thus far, with a third due later this month, entitled Company.
The release of a new album these days is very precious in the process of an artist’s career. Albums take months to record, produce and mix before the publicity and touring schedules even start. Despite the pressure, Burrows is relatively calm in his outlook: “It tends to be fairly healthy, optimistic nerves. Also, I’m too long in the tooth to be worried.”
At 33, Burrows understands the business well; it has changed remarkably since 2004 when Razorlight released their first album. His passion for music began early on though; a “healthy obsession” with pop music led to playing the drums by age six or seven, and then the rest was history. Today Burrows listens to much of what he used to, but still manages to find time for current artists such as Lucy Rose and Alt-J. To discover a song, old or new, for him, is an equally exciting experience.
On the topic of his new album, Burrows felt that it was nice to write songs that were “honest” and “true.” He is now under the record label Play It Again Sam, but the songs were written without the pressures of a release date. The album has taken form during this year mostly, with Andy coming to the fore.
Three songs have been released already with music videos; ‘If I Had A Heart’, ‘Keep On Moving On’ and ‘Because I Know That I Can’ display the talent and rejuvenated energy of a man who has arguably not had a chance to shine (his first solo album was a charity-affair, whilst his second went under the pseudonym of the I Am Arrows project). The music videos have a non-serious, light-hearted charm whilst the music proves pop-like in many ways, brimming with a joyful optimism.
Burrows is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to commenting on the issue of comprise in his previous work. For the drummer, bands by their very nature are full of “agreements and disagreements or delicate situations.” For Burrows Company was simply an enjoyable affair, which saw him co-produce alongside Tim Baxter, his own boss in a partial sense.
It is a personal album in many ways, but also an artistic experimentation in another. The latest release ‘Because I Know That I Can’ echoes a “passive-aggressive” relationship, in the words of its singer amidst melodic layers of sounds. Whilst ‘Keep On Moving On’ brought Andy a neat little riff, which he felt “chuffed” about, he otherwise found them troublesome to come by. Burrows summarises his song-writing process succulently, stating: “I just wanted to make an honest record.”
When it comes to Razorlight, the difference in material is not overly striking. Hits Burrows co-wrote, such as ‘America’ and ‘Before I Fall To Pieces’ lie along the lines of his current repertoire, however Johnny Borrell, the lead singer and “wild card” of the band, always brought his own element to the table, his “Johnnyness.”
Despite marked “personal differences” in the past however there is no bitterness on Burrow’s behalf towards his former band mate: “Johnny’s ambition often worked…and when it didn’t work, it was quite entertaining.”
Razorlight’s last album to date, Slipway Fires, was released in late 2008 and failed to match the success of their previous efforts. “I think the band was okay. Bands try to evolve, they try to make their way through and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.” Admittedly, Burrows felt the album did not connect with Britain as much as Up All Night or Razorlight had, but still stood as a record that was “really great.”
Despite the fact that nowadays Burrows lives in New York and has a child, he still finds some time to “fall over like an idiot” on nights out at the pub. The youthful energy has never quite left the music industry which he counts himself as “very lucky” to still be a part of.
There has not been much idle time enjoyed in the last few years. Being the drummer of We Are Scientists, keeping up a solo career and working with Tom Smith has obviously been time-consuming, though clearly beneficial: “You give a little and hopefully get a little.”
Late last year, he and Smith released the festive album, Funny Looking Angels, and Burrows hopes to work with Smith again on a “proper” record, though perhaps not for another year. Their friendship was key to their coming together.
Meanwhile, Burrows also has a new We Are Scientists’ album projected for release some time next year, and a solo tour to plan, the details of which he is currently hammering out.
It is a somewhat perplexing schedule but Burrows certainly seems optimistic about the future and hopes to “definitely” play in Ireland soon. We will certainly hold him to his casually spoken words.
Andy Burrows releases his new album, Company, on October 22nd
By Andrew Carolan