Label Focus: Burger Records
California’s Burger Records has been a haven for weird kids since it was launched by musicians Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard in 2007.
Perhaps best known for contributing to the rather unexpected revival of the cassette, Burger has put out music by the likes of Beck, Dave Grohl and Thurston Moore, in addition to a slew of up-and-coming artists like Cherry Glazerr and La Luz. Bohrman took some time out from planning the next Burger Boogaloo fest (featuring Iggy Pop, X and more) to chat a bit about how Burger came to be.
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How did you get into the music business? What motivated you?
We had a band called Thee Makeout Party and nobody wanted to put out our record so we did it ourselves. It was motivation by necessity! Everything else snowballed after that and it’s all led to me talking with you now!
Which, if any, labels were your own role models or guiding stars when you started up?
A few records that we looked up to were Recess Records, Buddha Records, Apple Records, Bomp Records, Brother Records, Kama Sutra, Steed, Immediate, SUPER K, Stax, Ardent, Rip Off Records, Estrus; it’s a never ending list. Everything influences us!
What does Burger stand for as a label?
We’re head cheerleader for bands we like and are dedicated to turning the people on through unknown, unheard and under-appreciated music from planet Earth and beyond!
What has been your biggest achievement as a label?
Our biggest achievement has and always will be the fact that we are still alive and kicking as a musical force after so many years of not knowing what we’re doing. It boggles the mind how we’ve made it this far!
Did you have an initial idea of what the label should be and how it could evolve in the future when you started it?
Not at all, we just wanted to put out bands we like (starting with our own band!).
What are you looking for when signing artists?
People who are nice. We can’t waste our time on mean people.
Why did you decide to launch Wiener? How has that worked out?
Lee and I were stoned driving around in the van and we came up with the name Wiener Records. After many laughs we decided that it would work well as a manufacturer/distribution/hype label for bands in need. It’s worked out really well, especially with bands from different countries looking for a way to get some exposure outside of their own countries. Plus we’ve found a handful of bands that have made the jump from Wiener to Burger.
What do you think of the culture that has grown around Burger?
There’s so much happening and coming at us that it’s hard to reflect or appreciate what Burger has and is growing into. But when I do take a moment and look what we’ve done I’m proud of everything we’ve accomplished after the countless hours of blood, sweat and marijuana smoking!
Where do you want the label to be in ten years?
I want to be the first label in space; in ten years we’d like to be releasing music from different planets and dimensions. Maybe we can contact that other side and get some new music being recorded in the afterlife. The world isn’t big enough for Burger; we’re searching through time and space for new music to turn people on to!
The music industry goes through rapid changes these days. How have those challenges affected your work?
It’s great for us; we can change anything we want at the drop of a hat. We’re not owned by anybody so we answer to no one but ourselves. Bigger labels have so many checks and balances that they’re not able to move on things as quickly or make things happen without getting approval from people above them. So score one for the little guys! Haha!
Any regrets? Anything you would do differently if you had a second chance?
I wish I knew more about taxes and stuff when we started cause I was totally clueless at the beginning. If I had any say, I would begin teaching classes on taxes in high school and college. It’s something everyone has to deal with and one of those most difficult to pick up (for me at least). It’s like learning a new language almost!
What’s the next thing you’re excited about that you’re releasing?
There’s so much I’m excited about, but just to choose one, I’m really stoked on this band Sam Coffey and the Iron Lungs from Toronto that we’re putting out. Killer band, awesome songs and super nice dudes who are excited to melt the faces of the world with their rock & roll fire!
How would you describe Burger… as a meal?
Burger is a deluxe hamburger with extra-toasted buns, all the trimmings and always served rare to well done. Veggie-patties available as well. (We’re for everybody!)
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