Shine a ‘Light

Shine a ‘Light

David Sullivan-Kaplan (aka ‘Skully’), drummer for revamped London indie band Razorlight, ponders piracy and popularity

By Adam Zacharias

Published: Thu 18 Oct 2012, 9:41 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 12:37 PM

How did you come to join Razorlight?

I’ve been in the band about four years. I used to work for Razorlight’s booking agent, and when their old drummer Andy left the band I got an audition. A couple of days later, we were on the road. It was just after the release of Slipway Fires (the band’s most recent album).

And that coincided with the demise of your previous band, Men, Women & Children…

Yeah – I’m American and my wife is British. I was in the UK and needed a job, so I took that job working for the booking agent. But drumming is pretty much been the only thing I’ve ever done.

How much did you know about Razorlight before joining?

I knew a little bit – I didn’t know all of their music but I was certainly aware of them. I’d met them in LA years ago, like in 2005, when they were staying in the same hotel as my old group. But I was very excited to join the band, they’re great guys and it’s been a fantastic experience.

Not long after you joined Razorlight, two more members left, leaving just frontman Johnny Borrell from the original four-piece. What has the new line-up been up to in the last 18 months?

When we got into the writing phase after touring, we really worked hard – trying to figure out what is we want to say and what we want to achieve. Writing has been our main focus for the last couple of years.

Is the band democratic or is Johnny the overriding leader?

Everyone definitely gets to say their piece and everyone writes music. Obviously it’s Johnny’s band and at some point somebody has to make a call, but we’re all in sync.

Can you tell us about the new record?

The album’s finished, we’re just mixing it and getting it ready for release next year. It’s a fun, party, rock and roll record – like a halfway point between the first and second albums. You can definitely dance to it. We recorded it in a few different studios in London, we stayed close to home which is just easier. I think this will be the quiet before the storm.

How have you faced the challenge of guitar music’s waning mainstream popularity in recent years?

It’s all cyclical – you just have to go out, do what you do and be proud of it, whether you’re on the radio or not. I don’t care if I’m playing in front of 8,000 people, 800 people or 80 people. You just get up on stage, have the time of your life and give it everything you’ve got.

Does the new record have a title yet?

There are a couple of titles, although I think that might be a question for Johnny. But some of the key tracks are It’s Good to Be Dead, Boys – which is probably my favourite on the whole album – Vertical Women and Reveal Yourself.

Success-wise, which bands do you hope to emulate?

I guess those bands that can straddle that level of artistic integrity and commercial success, someone like Roxy Music or The Clash.

How good a living do rock stars make these days?

In my opinion, the people who have really suffered from internet piracy have been the record companies. They like to paint the story that it’s the artists who are suffering, but I don’t think that’s true. I never knew bands that got many royalties, unless you were selling 20 million records, but it didn’t matter anyway as you were making money from a thousand other streams. I’m not saying labels should suffer though, that’s not cool.


What: Live Nation’s Gulf Bike Festival, supported by the Dubai Calendar

Where: Festival Park, Dubai Festival City

When: Thursday, October 18 to Saturday, October 20

Cost: Between Dhs295 and Dhs500

Tickets: Visit or Virgin Megastore

For more info: See


Thursday, October 18 – Megadeth supported by Absolace and Sandwash

Friday, October 19 – Daughtry and Razorlight supported by Juliana Down


Formed in 2002 in London.

Their first two albums Up All Night (2004) and Razorlight (2006) both went quadruple-platinum in the UK, with the latter spawning the band’s only number one single to date, America.

Johnny Borrell became tabloid fodder for dating the likes of Kirsten Dunst and Emma Watson, while also drawing ridicule from the music press for making overblown statements about his talents.

Third album Slipway Fires (2008) received a critical lashing and proved a relative flop commercially as well, signalling the end of the original quartet.

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