Jack Sample is scrolling through a reel of '80s commercials. He's got footage of a bizzaro wood puppet pumping up a hot air balloon. There's a voiceover, calm and vaguely sinister — "just when you thought we couldn't go any higher." Cut. Jack stops the clip before any context, any hint as to what the ad was selling. He splices it between live footage of Tomorrow's Tulips and a new Beachwood Sparks music video.
This week 1500 kids from all over the world will tune into BRGRTV.
It's a weekly show. Ten minute episodes play out like Youtube 'zines. Think of it as the propaganda arm of Burger Records — the ruling party in the Orange County music scene. Go to any local venue: the Observatory, the Yost, your stoner buddy's sweaty garage, hell, go to James Franco's instagram — you'll see a Burger pin, a t-shirt, that catchy pop slogan "I'm a Burger bitch."
The Burger Records back room is something of a local legend — tales of a Wayne's World sloppy charm drift out like pot smoke. It doesn't disappoint. Tapes are stacked high, WWE plays on the TV. "This is the weiner of wrestling," cofounder Sean Bohrman explains, packing a bowl. Lee Rickard, the condiments, the spicy mustard eccentricity of Burger enters the room, grabs a seat. Jack Sample and Steale O'Neil, barely out of their teens, sit on the couch editing the latest episode of BRGRTV.
"What do we call this one?" Sample asks. He's tall, lanky, big glasses like an updated Buddy Holly. O'Neil doesn't miss a beat. "The Claw."
The Claw is episode 89 of BRGRTV. That means it's been almost two years since Bohrman and Rickard called Sample and O'Neil into the shop to produce the show. "We heard about Jack through our friend Chrissie," Bohrman recalls, "She was like, there's this kid at school who's wearing punk shirts and shit."
Later that year, Jack shot Between Two Buns: The Burger Records Story — a short project for a high school documentary class. It served as a stylistic blueprint for BRGRTV — the frenetic editing, fast paced, irreverent.
"It started as a joke," Rickard explains, "We met Steale and we were like 'Oh my God, you've got to meet Jack. Two Hollywood names!"
"He [O'Neil] would spend all his time in the shop and then buy like one Jackson 5 seven inch," Sean continues, "He also told us about Cherry Glazerr."
Fronted by seventeen year old Clementine Creevy, Cherry Glazerr is now one of the more popular local bands on Burger's record label. "That's the whole point of the show," Lee takes a hit, glances up at the WWE match, "All the kids in the neighborhood know that Clementine has an aura. We put her on BRGRTV and 1500 kids, wherever they may be, they know that she has fucking star power."
That's the keyword, the driving force — star power. It's about presence, aura, putting a face on the music. "The way we look at it is we can place ourselves where Albert Maysles and DA Pennybaker were, just hanging around the Stones and Bob Dylan," Sample adds.
It's an apt analogy. Sample and O'Neil are heavy flies on the walls of the Burger, pushing, enlarging, expanding the little room that is local music. You'll be watching Feeding People crush a packed show at the record shop then cut, static, '80s commercial, and it's La Sera talking about why they live in Southern California.
"Most of that aesthetic comes out of having a four day turnaround," Sample explains, "And from that kind of momentum and energy a lot of really cool stuff starts happening."
Cool stuff includes: King Tuff playing to a crowd of ecstatic kids in Australia (episode 24), James Franco (episode 36), and an 18-minute Mac DeMarco spotlight.
"When a 10 year-old kids see this, they're going to fucking accelerate a generation and fast forward into cool music and subculture," Rickard sums it all up in a burst of inspiration, "Rock-n-roll. Live footage. Interviews. Whatever MTV stopped doing, that's what we're going to do."