Disgraced Label Burger Records’ Headquarters Lives on as White Rabbit Shop

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The Burger Records logo and the White Rabbit Records logo

In the early to mid-2010s, one of the most influential spots in underground rock’n’roll music was in an Orange County strip mall. Located near Cal State Fullerton, not far from Disneyland, Burger Records’ space housed a constellation of businesses including a brick-and-mortar retail shop, label headquarters, venue, residence, and burgeoning garage-punk brand. Between the mint-green walls and shelves of candy-colored cassettes, all-ages shows regularly took place, with drugs and alcohol reputedly present. In July of 2020, when allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced involving members of more than a dozen bands on the Burger label, the store was named as the setting for some of the alleged abuse.

Within days of the allegations becoming public, Burger announced it was shutting down at least its label. But almost a year later, a shop quietly remains open in its old location, under a new name. Though not, it appears, under new management. Now called White Rabbit Records, the place looks substantially similar to its predecessor, with the same shade of paint on the walls, the same prominent “cassettes” sign, and some familiar-looking artwork. Photos and videos on White Rabbit’s social media accounts seem to show the same two cats that lived there previously, and they have the same names: Dee Dee and Queenie. In certain images, the Burger logo is still visible on vinyl albums’ price stickers. While it may not be a surprise that business continues — and that rent bills still need to be paid — the details of the new store have not been widely reported.

According to an Orange County online records search, Sean Bohrman registered the White Rabbit Records business name in a filing dated September 30, 2020. Bohrman co-founded the Burger label in 2007 with his high school friend Lee Rickard, when Bohrman was 25 and Rickard was 23; they started the label partly to release music by their own band, Thee Makeout Party. With another business partner, Bohrman opened the Burger store in 2009. Bohrman and Rickard even lived in the place. Bohrman told KEXP journalist Emily Fox in a September 2020 interview that he used to work 16-hour days and had to wash his hair in a faucet in the alley, because there was no shower.

Reached by phone at White Rabbit, Bohrman declined to comment on the record to Pitchfork. Attempts to reach Rickard, who is not listed in the White Rabbit business filing, were unsuccessful. (Full disclosure: This reporter interviewed Bohrman and Rickard for a 2010 Pitchfork feature.)

Burger released material on vinyl, CD, and digital platforms, but the label was practically synonymous with cassettes, manufactured in runs of a couple hundred to a few thousand. Mainly reissues but also original material, Burger’s discography encompassed about 1,200 bands over its 13-year span, an extraordinarily prolific schedule of releases. Some were cult favorites, such as the cassette pressing of garage-rocker King Tuff’s 2008 debut album Was Dead, but the label’s offerings also included a 2012 cassette version of a side project by Ryan Adams, as well as a 2015 tape reissue of Green Day’s 1994 breakthrough album Dookie.

Burger was also known for its popular concerts and festivals. Its Burgerama festival in nearby Santa Ana drew thousands of fans annually with lineups that featured artists as prominent as Weezer and Iggy Pop. In 2014, fashion house Saint Laurent used the label’s music in its menswear shows. Burger had a YouTube series. It had a radio show.

Above all, for a time, Burger’s unusual store-slash-office had a certain cachet. In a 2014 profile on Burger, the New York Times wrote, “Burger headquarters is a round-the-clock freak lab and extended promotional happening, building a cultural movement from tiny resources.” Two years later, in a feature on cassette tapes, Rolling Stone dubbed Burger’s scruffy homebase “the epicenter of modern cassette music culture.”


 

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