“We were getting airplay on WSOU and WDHA, and we did a live interview on WSOU,” remembers drummer Billy Orrico. “We did okay. It was tough for an original band, especially in the ‘80s trying to get something happening.” The band was called Razor Sharp, and they were one of the premier original bands in the Jersey scene on the ‘80s. They garnered extensive record company interest, but were never able to get over the hump and sign a deal.
Joining Billy in the band were guitarist/songwriter Tom Saffioto, bass player Bill Ruffino, vocalist Bruce Torkelson, and guitarist John Albino. Together they hit all the area’s top original showcase clubs, including the Cat Club, Woody’s and Sanctuary in New York, and Studio One and Final Exam in New Jersey. The opened for a lot of the national acts passing through including Winger, Blue Oyster Cult, and Robin Trower.
The music was very reminiscent of Journey, although towards the end they got a little bit heavier. Two Razor Sharp songs “We Rule The Night” and “On My Way” were included on WDHA Best Of New Jersey Rock compilations. And “On My Way” along with another Saffioti penned song, “Don’t Let A Good Thing Slip Away”, were covered by another of the Jersey scene’s top original bands, Adrian Dodz.
Although Tom was the primary source of material for the group, the others all contributed. “Tom was the main writer, but songwriting went on by different people in the band,” recalls Billy.
In 1988, the band reached their peak with showcases for the president and vice-president of Chrysalis Records. When nothing came of the showcases, they decided it was time to make some changes. Along with the heavier sound, they changed the name to Crash Street. “We got pretty far as Razor Sharp, and the name was kind of well known,” says Billy. “We thought it would help to change it.”
It wasn’t long, however, before Billy decided to try his luck in Los Angeles. Life took Tom and Bill there too as it happened, so they used the opportunity and regrouped on the West Coast.
The band were able to play out a lot, including prestigious clubs such as the Roxy. “We never were able to get very far,” says Billy. “The band had been together way too long.” After arriving in L.A. on Halloween of 1990, Tom called it quits and returned home in July 1991, signaling the official end of Razor Sharp.
Billy stayed in L.A., and joined a band called Biloxi, which had a recording deal in Japan. After that, he began performing with a band called Eye For An Eye. The had a sound similar to what 311 is doing now, and became one of the bigger bands on the L.A. scene, headlining in the Whiskey and the Roxy. He recently returned to New Jersey, and is working in TV and film sound editing, while playing the circuit with Urban Cactus. Eye For An Eye, meanwhile, has just signed with a label, and Billy is considering rejoining the group.
John and Bruce went on to form the White Boys, who developed an excellent reputation on the cover band circuit for stellar musicianship. Bruce is also part of the new project being put together by Vito Bratta, former lead guitarist with the platinum selling White Lion.
These days, Tom’s construction business in North Jersey, as well as his family, keep him busy but in a recent conversation he reminisced fondly of the days he spent as a member of “Razor Sharp”.
Copyright © Hal B. Selzer/The Aquarian/East Coast Rocker and transcribed with permission.