A Four-Way with Burger Records' Caravan of Stars
Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard of Anaheim pop band Thee Makeout Party! founded the cassette-dominant Burger Records in the year AD 2007. With it, they engrained a nonstop, can-do, DIY ethos. Two years later, they opened a Burger record, tape, and video store with Brian Flores in Fullerton, 25 miles southeast of Los Angeles, billowing the Burger zeal across the land through their myriad releases of psych, garage, bubblegum, flowered pop, and punk. Burger-produced shows have also steadily expanded, with the second Burgerama selling out two nights at the 1,000-seat Santa Ana Observatory. A sampling of the Burger family includes releases from King Tuff, Brian Jonestown Massacre, La Luz, Hunx and His Punx, Nobunny, Mean Jeans, Diarrhea Planet, and the Go. The label’s work means constant activity and push; thus, the Burger mode is happy-go-worky very hard, love your bands, and do good philanthropically. In the face of the corporate, Miley-Virus, music-business malaise, Burger Records is a beacon. Their Burgerama Caravan of Stars Tour is upon us. For this interview, Sean Bohrman and members of the Growlers, Gap Dream, and together PANGEA did a four-way. There was laughter and jollity throughout.
How does Burger Records decide what bands they’re putting out? What’s the philosophy? Bohrman: We just listen for what we like—there’s no science to it. We work really, really, really hard all day every day. There’s nothing we do that doesn’t have some kind of relation to Burger. If you like working hard and smoking lots of weed, come chill with us!
Talk about one of your songs. Gap Dream: I wrote “Fantastic Sam” about Lee giving me boots and about walking up to Starbucks.
Together PANGEA: For “River,” we were drinking a lot of 40s in Canada. And we really like sandwiches.
The Growlers: Matt Taylor [guitarist] made “One Million Lovers” and thought it would sound like the Go-Go’s. I heard reggae, but I wanted to sing in a lazy country style. Tried to avoid the Jamaican accent.
Has anyone ever come to a Burger show, tripped on acid, and gotten nude? Or climbed a tree and started throwing shit down at people thinking they were Donkey Kong? SB: One time, Cum Stain got arrested at Burger for motorboating a girl and keying her car. It was super-dumb.
TP: At the first Burgerama our buddy Ty was crowd-surfing during our set, and a security guard choked him out, so we stopped and made the security leave. In Oakland, Danny [bassist] ate 10 hits of acid and Cory [guitarist] ate six. It was insane, and I feel like some Donkey-Kong-related activity went down while we made out with girls and ran around the city. In San Diego, Chad [guitarist] and Danny ate a ton of mushrooms, and it was really hard to play. In Irvine, Cory and Danny ate a lot of mushrooms, and it was also very difficult to play. We were supposed to get paid in mushrooms at the Irvine show, but the dude who organized it was a shittard and gypped us and the Tijuana Panthers.
GD: There’s always some guzzler at a show messing things up, but one time this chick puked at a shop show. It was bleak.
G: During a show in Austin, I looked over and saw enough hair on the neck of Matt’s guitar to make a balding old man jealous. The crowd had pushed a young girl into Matt, and the wire hanging off his guitar had scalped her.
Tell me a story about lighting something on fire. SB: One time, my brother threw a cigarette on a friend’s neighbor’s roof, and it caught fire and burned the house down. It was super-dumb.
TP: I went off-roading with some bro friends I smoked weed with in high school, and for some reason we thought it was a great idea to light a mattress on fire on the side of the highway. The fire got so big and outta control that we drove back into the mountains to hide from the cops and fire department.
The Growlers: I showed my friends an oil field by my house, and there was this old truck there that looked like it hadn’t been driven since World War II. My buddy hot-wired it, started driving, and then jumped out. We watched it ghost ride off of a cliff into the darkness. Then we heard a giant explosion. There were flames 30 feet high. We ran. It was a fucking oil field. They must’ve thought it was a terrorist or some environmentalist wacko. Glad we didn’t light the whole city on fire.
If you were to have some exotic hobby, like ice sculpting or raising llamas, what would it be? SB: Ka-ra-te.
GD: Don’t llamas spit on people?
TP: Deep-sea fishing with Gene Ween. I love fish.
The Growlers: I’d give cave tours on acid.
Describe Burger life on the road. SB: It’s a constant search for weed. Once weed is found, we chill like an ice sculpture.
TP: We have an industrial meat freezer that we keep in the back part of our tour van. We also take days off for a sort of spiritual ice-sculpting ritual. We love making ice horses.
The Growlers: The road is like being in the doghouse on wheels.
What do you think of Vanilla Ice? How often does Vanilla Ice get high and run down the street nude? SB: I’m into it.
TP: He lives down the street from us, so I see him from time to time at the local liquor store. Never seen him nude. Maybe I’ll start working on getting him naked.
The Growlers: Vanilla Ice has probably got it pretty rough. Probably does a lot of downers.
What is your favorite band of all time? Why? SB: The Bee Gees, because their arrangements, lyrics, and harmonies affect me in a way that no other band can. It’s beautiful.
GD: ABBA. You know why.
TP: Mean Jeans. Because it’s always “Slime Time” in our hearts.
The Growlers: Bob Marley and the Wailers. They’re like the Beatles on weed.
Talk shit about something. Anything. Maybe you hate some artist. Talk shit about Monet. His garden is bullshit. SB: I hate the automobile company that uses “zoom zoom” as their tagline. Who are they selling cars to? Babies? I just feel like they are talking down to people by using “zoom zoom” to sell cars to adults. It really bugs me.
The Growlers: All this fucking newer folk music with Disney beats and moaning chants on the radio right now. Sounds like a Mouseketeer at Burning Man.
GD: I still love the new Daft Punk, and I still listen to the new Emeralds, even though it makes me sad they broke up.
TP: The new Katy Perry is tight. Also the new Memories record is amazing. We really dig the Audacity record Butter Knife—it’s out in September, so be sure to pick it up. Jimmy Buffett’s cool, too. One time, we played a show in Vancouver, and Erik braved the abroad data fees just so we could all sing along to “Margaritaville.” Also, Riff Raff—that new Riff Raff/Far East Movement/Lil Debbie joint “The Illest” is definitely the illest shit on the radio.
The Growlers: Kevin Ayers.
What is a speed-metal band that has not gotten the attention they deserve? SB: Tyranis, no doubt. Tape out on Burger, of course!
TP: White Fang.
It seems like every week, a band on tour is getting their shit stolen. How do you all approach the security end of things? SB: We sleep in the van. People should sleep in the van.
TP: We’re actually about to build a loft, which not only allows for extra lazy space in the back of the van, but also covers up all of our equipment so that prying eyes cant see what we got.
What’s Fullerton like? GD: Fullerton is hot in the summer. It’s 97 degrees right now. It was 100 yesterday.
TP: Hit up Lucky John’s and Palapa and you shall know the truth of Fullerton.
What does the future hold for Burger Records? What’s next? B: Pop-up shop on the moon.