After six years of pummeling Orange County with colorful cassette tapes — roughly 300 releases a year — America's most prolific underground record label is opening a store in L.A.
In a joint partnership with cassette label Gnar Tapes, the new Burger Records in Cypress Park is the label's first retail space in L.A. For Gnar Tapes — which began in Portland in 2008 — the new venture makes them a major force in Northeast L.A.'s growing garage rock syndicate (which includes Lolipop Records in Echo Park).
"We've been friends for years," says Lee Rickard, co-founder of Burger Records. "They're super funny, creative, and influential." Gnar's founder, beer-belly-maestro Rikky Gage, even wrote BRGRTV's catchy theme song; his band White Fang has a new record slated for a Burger release this summer. He's also taken on the role of stoner pop crooner "Free Weed," who's been known to give away medical marijuana to his fans.
"We already have the green and orange Burger colors…so its legit," says Gage.
The move isn't a surprise. For the past five years, Burger proxies (which include countless cassette pushers and local bands) have turned Northeast L.A. into the epicenter of America's garage rock revival. The base of Burger's teenage garage-rock empire will still remain centered in Fullerton, but the new Burger storefront in Cypress Park — located next to a repair shop at 3436 North Figueroa Street, in the same block as Antigua Coffee House — will include all the cultural appeal of the Fullerton shop: gig fliers covering slime green walls; stacks of tapes by artists like Colleen Green, Together Pangea, and Peach Kelli Pop; crates of dusty vinyl; boldly sarcastic decor; and whatever else you'd find at a stoner-friendly record store. "It's gonna have weirder stuff, like more clothes and pins," says Gage, "but mostly just records."
The recently vacated space, a former Zumba studio located in front of Burger's former recording studio ("Studio B"), is about "80%" the size of the 1,350-square-foot Burger Records shop in Fullerton, according to Gage. The new Burger-Gnar compound will also include a gated parking lot and 2,000-square-foot analog recording studio once occupied by Burger producer Bobby Harlow (The Go). The former "Studio B" is now operated by Gage's Gnar Tapes, who renamed it to "Studio G."
While there's no official name for the new store, or scheduled grand opening, both sides expect the new location to open before the summer, following the fourth annual Burgerama festival in Santa Ana.