|Founder||Sean Bohrman, Lee Rickard|
|Defunct||July 22, 2020|
|Genre||Rock, punk rock, garage rock, power pop|
|Country of origin||U.S.|
Burger Records was an American independent record label and record store in Fullerton, California, United States. The label was founded in 2007 by Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard, members of the power pop band Thee Makeout Party. The record/video store, co-owned by Bohrman and Brian Flores, was opened in 2009. The label ceased operations in July 2020, following sexual assault allegations levied at many of their artists and staff members.
The label was notable for releasing most of its material on cassette. Among the hundreds of artists released on the label were The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Devon Williams, Hunx and His Punx, Bell Gardens, and The Go. According to OC Weekly, the label was known for "its growing catalog of sugary, eccentric power pop and audacious garage rock, extolling a carefree message of love, music and DIY attitude."
Founders Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard became friends in the late 1990s while attending high school in Anaheim, California. Avid rock and pop fans, they began collaborating on zines and newsletters, and subsequently started playing in bands together. The duo started out playing in a band called The Noise, "a song-less, almost-music-less band" for which they were dubbed "punk pranksters". Afterwards, they started the power pop band Thee Makeout Party.
At some point, Bohrman and Rickard began putting the Burger logo, which had resulted from Rickard drawing pictures while bored at work, on all of their artistic endeavors. They soon befriended the young lo-fi Fullerton punk band Audacity, joining them on a cross-country tour. Bohrman also earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Humboldt State in 2004.
Bohrman and Rickard self-released several 7-inch vinyl records for Thee Makeout Party in 2006, using the name Burger Productions. The label itself was started in 2007, releasing both material from Thee Makeout Party and an LP for Audacity.
According to Bohrman, after getting hold of a cassette tape by another band while on tour, he decided to try cassettes as a practical way to release music. While in a parking lot in Kansas, Bohrman and Rickard emailed bands they'd befriended and asked if they'd like to release old or new material on the label. Bands such as The Go and Nobunny agreed, while labels like Vice and Sub Pop were supportive of rereleases on Burger, as cassette was a format they had no interest in. The label began to primarily release $6 cassettes, occasionally pressing vinyl and on rare occasions releasing CDs. From the beginning, Burger never signed bands, instead allowing artists to retain complete control of the music they released.
Use of cassettes
Beyond Audacity and Thee Makeout Party, releases by The Go, Traditional Fools, and Apache helped cement the label. The cassette trend first spiked when they released NoBunny's Raw Romance, which sold 500 copies in a week and a half. A later Ryan Adams tape sold all 400 copies within three hours. By August 2012, the label had sold over 100,000 cassettes.
In 2009, Bohrman was working as an art director for a boating magazine, only to quit when his job wouldn't allow him to go on tour with Thee Makeout Party. When he returned, he cashed his 401K from his old job and opened a record store. Helping him was Brian Flores, owner of the now defunct record store Third Eye Records. Flores had helped put out the first Burger release.
They chose an emporium on an industrial edge of Fullerton, one that the Los Angeles Times has since called "kind of a post-apocalyptic Apple Store: on-point in its branding message and a hoarder's paradise of music-fan ephemera." Beyond cassettes and vinyl, the store periodically sells the work of comic artists, animators, and other artists.
Since late 2011, they've also released weekly video episodes on YouTube chronicling events in the record store Called "Burger TV" (BRGRTV). The Los Angeles Times has called the series a "charming nonsensical teen-noir.
Final years and controversy
By August 2012, the label had well over 300 releases in its discography, which has since grown to over 500. By March 2013, the label had signed a distribution deal with Red Eye Distribution, and that May announced that they were also releasing material digitally, on both iTunes and eMusic.
In July 2020, the label faced allegations of normalizing a culture of sexual assault at its shows and within its catalog of artists. Members of SWMRS, Black Lips, The Growlers, The Buttertones, Part Time, Cosmonauts, and other groups on the label have been accused of sexual assault, statutory rape, and sexual predation. One such accusation came from Clementine Creevy of Cherry Glazerr, a band which had also put music out on Burger. The label released a statement on July 18, acknowledging a "Zero Tolerance policy" and subsequently responded with a rebrand, separate imprint for female artists, and promises of new leadership. On July 21, label president and co-founder Lee Rickard resigned, and the label announced plans to officially change its name.
On July 22, it was announced that plans to rebrand the label had failed after Jessa Zapor-Gray announced she would not serve as interim label president. As a result, the label announced it would shut down fully. The company began to remove its releases from digital music services. Sean Bohrman confirmed that Burger Records' artists own their music and may choose to re-release their music.
Style and influence
According to the Los Angeles Times, the label has focused on "trashy punk with a bubble gum streak," and their business model involves both releasing numerous bands at a low cost and building "an audience that wants to live in your universe. They took '90s DIY culture and gave it a '60s teen-pop makeover."
OC Weekly states, "The label has developed a reputation in discriminating music circles for its growing catalog of sugary, eccentric power pop and audacious garage rock, extolling a carefree message of love, music and DIY attitude."
Get Bent in 2011 went on to say, "Burger’s played a crucial role in the revival of the cassette tape, as well as in the promotion of the thriving Orange County garage scene." In an interview, band The Cosmonauts concurred that "Burger’s been responsible for the local tape craze. All Orange County bands either have tapes released by Burger, or have released cassettes themselves."
In 2009, Total Trash Productions threw the very first Burger Boogaloo at The Knockout in San Francisco, California. The show typically includes John Waters, who has been the host of the show since 2015. The Boogaloo's continued growth has begun to necessitate the use of Mosswood Park in Oakland, California, and has been a host to notable acts such as Iggy Pop, Buzzcocks, X, The Mummies, Flamin' Groovies, Thee Oh Sees, Nobunny, Shannon and the Clams, and many more.
In 2012 the label held the first Burgerama, an all-age annual festival including but not limited to rock, punk, and pop musicians, most of whom have released music on Burger. Burger shows are often done in tandem with Gnar Tapes.
In early 2013 the label began an international promotion campaign for bands all around the world called the Burger Revolution. In March 2013, simultaneous Burger-themed shows were held in Paris, Stockholm, Milan, Melbourne and Tel Aviv, and the campaign culminated with the second Burgerama. The two-day festival included artists such as Ariel Pink, Pharcyde, Black Lips, and The Spits. It sold out both nights, selling more than 1,000 tickets at the Orange County rock club, Santa Ana's, The Observatory. Also that weekend was Burger Boogaloo in San Francisco. In March 2016, Burger Records and the Observatory celebrated 5 years of working together to bring the artists on their label to the live stages of the Observatory. The week long celebration not only showcased the talent on Burger Records but also brought out historic Orange County musical icons such as Rikk Agnew, shoegaze pioneers like Slowdive and the first live performance on U.S. soil of Crystal Castles with their new lead singer, Edith Frances. Furthermore, Burger has presented a series of "Burger Invasion" shows that have been hosted in numerous places around the globe such as Hamburg & Cologne, in Germany in 2017 and Madrid, Spain in 2018.
Burger also hosts a festival called the Burger A-Go-Go which features only female-fronted bands such as Best Coast, Dum Dum Girls, and Bleached in 2014 and Cat Power, The Julie Ruin, Glitterbust (featuring Kim Gordon), and Kate Nash in 2015. In 2018, Burger decided to take the A-Go-Go on the road with a West-Coast tour of the United States.
By November 2012, over 350 bands had released music through Burger in various formats. These included Dave Grohl (of the Foo Fighters) and a collaboration between Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) and Beck. By May 2019, a total of 1345 unique titles had been released on Burger. The following is a partial list of artists that have been released on the label.
- The Abigails
- Beat Mark
- Bell Gardens
- The Black Lips
- Blood Stone
- Brian Jonestown Massacre
- The Box Elders
- Cherry Glazerr
- The Cleaners from Venus
- Clorox Girls
- Conspiracy of Owls
- Clive Tanaka
- Diarrhea Planet
- Dead Fucking Last
- Devon Williams
- Early Dolphin
- The Ex-Bats
- Feeding People
- Fever B
- Gap Dream
- Garbo's Daughter
- Gestapo Khazi
- The Go
- Thee Goochi Boiz
- The Growlers
- Hunx and His Punx
- The Impediments
- JEFF the Brotherhood
- Jonah Ray
- Kikagaku Moyo
- King Kahn
- King Tuff
- L.A. Witch
- La Luz
- La Femme
- La Sera
- Levitation Room
- The Lovely Bad Things
- Lust-Cats of the Gutters
- The Memories
- Mexico City Blondes
- Mikal Cronin
- Mitchell Adam Johnson
- The Muffs
- Mystic Braves
- Natural Child
- No Parents
- The Orions
- Outrageous Cherry
- Part Time
- Peach Kelli Pop
- Pearl Charles
- Personal and the Pizzas
- The Pharcyde
- The Pizazz
- Pizza Time
- The Plimsouls
- The Poppets
- Psychotic Pineapple
- Redd Kross
- Ryan Adams
- The Resonars
- Sam Coffey & The Iron Lungs
- Shannon and the Clams
- The Shivas
- Schatzi & Hazeltine
- Sir Lord Von Raven
- Stan McMahon
- The Sufis
- Summer Twins
- Tobin Sprout
- Thee Oh Sees
- Thee Makeout Party
- Todd Congelliere
- Tomorrows Tulips
- The Tough Shits
- The Traditional Fools
- Ty Segall
- The UFO Club
- Vaadat Charigim
- The Vomettes
- Warm Soda
- Western Plaza
- White Night
- Yuppies Indeed
|001||Thee Makeout Party!||2EZ2LUVU||7"||2007|
|003||Thee Makeout Party!||Play Pretend||CASS||2007|
|004||Audacity||The Anne Frank Tape||CASS||2007|
|006||The Resonars||That Evil Drone||LP/CD||2007|
|008||The Go||Howl on The Haunted Beat||CASS||2007|
|010||Stan McMahon||The Stan McMahon Band||CASS||2007|
|184||Bell Gardens||Hangups Need Company||CASS||2012|
|234||Early Dolphin||Return To Whale Island||CASS||2012|
|394||Various (Mark Sultan, The Dirtbombs, etc.)||Daddy Rockin Strong: A Tribute to Nolan Strong & The Diablos||CASS||2010|
|555||Gap Dream||Shine Your Light||LP/CASS||2013|
|Parent company||Burger Records|
By late 2011, the label had created a subsidiary called Wiener Records. Wiener allows any band to have their tape mastered, pressed, packaged, and promoted through Burger, but without the Burger label. Wiener Records has a diverse array of bands. Solitary Debate released Inert on Wiener Records in 2015. Lint (Joel Vigilante) released Dry on Wiener Records in 2015.
|WINR001||The NOiSE!||Worst Of...||CASS|
|WINR002||Wax Witches||From Hell||CASS|
|WINR003||V.A.||The Wiener Dog Comp||2 CASS|
|WINR004||Gangbang Gordon||I'm Not A Musician||CASS|
|WINR005||The Bingers||Rhymes With Fingers||CASS|
|WINR006||My People Pray By Starlight/Yusuke Tsutsumi||S/T Split Release||CASS|
|WINR007||The Jigsaw Seen||Gifted||CASS|
|WINR024||Cult Choir||Fantasy 6||CASS|
|WINR042||Club de Surf||Sonic Death EP||CASS|
|WINR045||The Roxy Suicide||Glam-Damaged Singles Collection||CASS|
|WINR087||Lint (Joel Vigilante)||Dry||CASS|
|WINR174||Cinema Cinema||A Night At The Fights||CASS|
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