Burger Time Extra: Q&A with Burger Records

This week's cover story gave you a chance to get acquainted with the off-beat, lovable founders of Fullerton's newest music dispensary, Burger Records. We hope you're hungry (for vinyl and cassettes). In case you're a total slacker (which is fine, nothing wrong with that) and haven't checked out the story quite yet, please excuse yourself and click here.

For the rest of you, we've complied scraps of our hours and hours of interviews (seriously, these guys couldn't get away from us) with the Burger boys in hopes that you might get to read about some of the cool history/quotes/fun facts that were left on the cutting-room floor.

OC Weekly: When did [Sean and Lee] officially start Burger Records?

Lee Rickard: In 2007 we did the “Too Easy 2 Love You” 45. Brian had a label called Yellow Sun, and we released it together. The record cover didn't even have a label on it, but we just made an insert. Just as kind of like a joke I doodled the Burger logo and Dan [Bush] (lead singer/guitar of Thee Makeout Party) did the yellow sun. And from there, just this last year-and-a-half we started putting out tapes and records.

Sean Bohrman: We heard Audacity and played with them a couple times and I really loved their songs and I would do long drives to my dad's house and stuff and I would think to myself “man, we have to release their EP because Audacity rules.” So we did a split 7″ with them.

LR: It was their first official, released record. They made a 10″ that never came out and that's what we fell in love with.

SB: And then we went to a meeting with the people who were putting that out and I asked if they wanted to do an LP and the band was like “yeah”. And I booked time at the Distillery [recording studio in Costa Mesa] and just put everything in the works. After that we went on tour, spread it out and we got the go to do Audacity's album on tape and then it kind of snowballed with The Traditional Fools and Apache.

LR: All our friends are making great records right now, and we've been doing this [Thee Makeout Party] band for about 10 years or whatever so we meet a lot of people and a lot of good records are coming out right now, so it definitely makes it easy for us to spread the gospel. We love it so much and are enthusiastic genuinely about the music and we just want everyone to hear it. And they're all friends so we're like “yeah, you can make a tape, whatever”.

So to get back to the other question, at shows we wanted to have a crate of records, and we all loved music and buying music and giving it away. Like great records you would find in the dollar bin and be like “Oh, happy birthday!” But we'd find great records that were to us life changing and we'd try to spread that. And we thought wouldn't it be neat if we had just an influence box at our shows and we just sold Ramones records and Emmet Roads records or whatever. Records that we buy for a buck and then sell them for a couple, and everyone's happy. But we didn't even get to that part.

SB: We skipped that part and opened up a record store.

OCW: But at what point were you seriously considering renting space and opening up a store?

SB: I took a business class at the junior college [FJC] but there was some mix up with enrollment so I wasn't really in the class, but I still showed up and took the tests. And it was kind just “no-duh” stuff like be honest and don't rip people off. Duh. But I had it in my head that I wanted to start a record store just because I hated working for people, I hated dressing up in their costumes and ties and button-up shirts and stuff and I just felt like if I wanted to I could do it.

LR: Brian was just waiting for someone to push him back into it, he's just been waiting to do it.

Brian Flores: I've just been hoarding and hoarding records since I was a kid. So I have like thousands and thousands of records. I was so psyched. So I have records and a little bit of money. Sean has records, he has a little bit of money. Lee has some money so collaboratively we can do it.

SB: Last June, my job wasn't going to let me back.

BF: Because he tours [with TMP].

What job was this again?

SB: I was the assistant art director at C magazine and at Boating World magazine. And they weren't going to let me go on tour this last time. And I said I didn't want to work for someone again and I have a dream of opening a record shop, so why not do it now.

So I looked on Craigslist every single day for a spot. I looked at a whole bunch of spots, for two months I was just looking and looking. And then I found this [Fullerton space]. So at the start of July (2009), we put in our application and saw the place and went back and fourth through a whole bunch of stuff with the landlords here and signed the papers earlier this month (September), because we had to take a month off to go on tour, so nothing could be done and we didn't want to start before I left for tour. And they were very kind and they let us wait and …I'm rambling. What was the question? [Laughs].

We work really hard. When I was working at my job, I would do just enough to get the job done and then I would be working on Burger stuff at my work and then I'd come home and work on Burger stuff. And it feels good to work on it because it feels like this is gonna be something that will be here longer than I am.

LR: It's archiving the time period. Because like I said, all of our friends are making great records and by up getting to re pump them or re press them, we're just spreading it. It helps everyone. When Burger bands come here, even if they've never been here, all the kids know their words and stuff because we spread the tapes around.

BF: It's good to put out music that expresses the way we feel and things we buy that we like. Then we turn the kids on to these onto older records, and so instead of downloading them on CD or mp3, they can actually have a tangible record. Were gonna be selling record players and stuff so we're kind of gonna impose it on them. We have everything we need to get you started. We're not pretentious people, people can ask stupid questions.

And we'll have listening stations, so they can listen to whatever they want to. No CDs at all and we'll sell cassettes. And anything but CDs. We just don't want that in our store. CDs just don't mean anything anymore. Vinyl is something where we can find it if we look hard and make a little profit on it to keep the store going. Just keeping something alive is awesome.

SB: Through telling people about all this rare music….(takes a second to chew his burger). Sorry. Our lives are just music and listening to records and finding records and looking on the backs of records to find out who the producer is, who is the manager, who write the liner notes and seeing how it connects to different records. Music is this whole web. Like everything is connected by something. It's totally weird to see how many connections there are between bands. Telling people about these bands that created one totally awesome single in the late sixties or early 70s, or anytime…there's good music being made anytime, you're keeping them alive and they're living on because people like us are telling people and they'll tell people and they'll tell people.

BF: It's a lot more fun meeting people instead of being on some chat room. Meeting people face to face to talk about stuff like….”so you know about this and this, well you should check out this and this”. And we know what we're talking about and we're just unpretentious so we're just like check this out and this out”. People need us. Record stores are important. It's no fun just doing the computer bullshit as far as I'm concerned. I love when people come in, I like inspiring people and I like being inspired. I like people turning me on, people will walk in the store and they'll know more then I do. And I'll be like “okay, cool so now I can look out for that record”. I'll never know everything, I love that.

SB: There's so much music that was made all around the world. Especially when things started getting psychedelic. All around the world, at some point awesome music was being made. But going to a record store is about finding music and finding new music.

OCW: What are somethings you've had to screw up at or learn as you go in terms of opening this business?

SB: There's so many forms and regulations and it expansive and its kind of confusing at times.

BF: But once we're over this hump, we'll be okay. It doesn't feel like work to me, it just feels like moving into a new house. I want to make it pretty and make it the way I want it. And I want to be comfortable in it. If I'm going to be here all the time, I better like it. Sean and I chose the colors and we're designing it so it's friendly for everyone. It's fun so…but there's a lot of forms and BS and security alarms and it adds up. I can see why not everyone does it.

SB: But you only live once and if you want to do something, you should do it. And it doesn't matter if people tell you “Oh, this is a bad economy, you shouldn't be opening up a store right now.”

Do you hear that a lot?

SB: Yeah, I heard it today, some AT&T people came in. People are saying, “Oh, you're brave for opening a store in this economy”. And you're a coward for working for AT&T.

BF: Whenever I see strip malls and I see fashions for less and blah blah blah, I think how can these places stay open, who goes to them. Why can't I have a record store? At least it does something for society. It can't be that hard, that's how I felt when I opned up my first store. And I'm glad to have a partner like Sean. And financially, we need each other. We couldn't do it alone and I don't want to do it alone.

LR: Two heads are better than one and three's company. [Laughs].

You've kind of mentioned the kinds of stuff you are going to be selling (records, tapes, DVDs etc.) How did you guys get into pressing cassettes?

SB: The band A.M., our friends from Garden Grove, they made a great tape in 2008 that came out and it was great quality and it's analog and loud and it sounded rad. And it's great because the music is so good, we kept playing it over and over in the van. Paper Made [Records], was the name of the label that put it out. So they just gave us their contact. So they gave us there contact, his name is Mike with M2 Communications. People always send us emails asking about how we get the tapes made and I just send them over to him and say “hey, said Burger sent you”. And he's been so good for us. It used to take three weeks for us to get a tape done, and now, he's getting done in like a week and a half for us. I don't know if he really knows the extent of what we do or how much it means to us, but he does a really good job. And it's cheap too.

LR: He'll tell us what kind of colored tapes he has so we'll try all different color tapes, which I think are neat. Because I've never seen an Orange tape until we put out the Go album on Orange tape. And it tickles a fancy, and we put out pink tapes and green tapes and white and black. And now everyone's making tapes.

Do you find that has become more of a trend?

LR: They're cheap, affordable, the quality is good and they last for a long time. You can toss them around and they hang out. Unless you leave them in the sun or get them wet, you're screwed. But the hold up almost as long as record. And they're fun and pocket sized. Anything you can put in your pocket is pretty neat. I mean look at the cell phone…that took off like wildfire. I mean I haven't caught on but…

BF: It's good for people to kind of own something, like a piece of the band as opposed to a DVD download or whatever. And if the record is out of print, get a cassette. For someone my age, I remember them when I was young and stuff, but some of these kids that were born in the 80s and 90s are like “what's this?” Only 4 bucks? Alright!” And a lot of people have old cars with cassette players in their car. And hopefully boom boxes come back in style. Walkmans and boom boxes. [Laughs].

LR: Because every 20 years, it's a cycle. That's why neon colors are big with the kids right now.

BF: It's like rap in New York, all those were mix tapes and stuff and everyone got all DIY on it because its cheap and they're poor and so it just makes sense.

LR: I glanced at some coffee table book that Thurston Moore put together and it just talks about buying mix tapes in 1983 buying a big gnarly boom box and his band is all “what is that?” and he still has it. And he says they would set it out before shows and play tapes and stuff. That's off the record of course, I don't know if Thurston Moore has his original boom box still.

OCW: Where do you see the store in five or 10 years?

SB: Hopefully still around.

BF: Maybe another store in another city.

SB: I don't know, I know that when ever we feel like we want to do something, we do it and that's how people should live their lives.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *