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Sean Bohrman and Lee Rickard hold the keys to the Burger Records Empire, where rock 'n' roll still rules and DIY cassettes are sold on Mars.

Interview by Maddie Sensibile

First of all, how did you two meet?

Lee Rickard: We met in high school in the fall of 1999.

Sean Bohrman: We kind of knew each other but I started making fun of him for having long hair, and we just became best friends after that.

LR: All our friends started bands, so we started a worse band than everyone else. We were called The Fuckin' Noise and we were just making fun of all our friends' punk bands.

SB: We didn't know how to play, or do anything like you would need to know to be in a band. We had a lot of heart, and a lot of love...

LR: But yeah, we were making a splash, more than the kids in high school bands were doing. We were just having more fun and piggy backing on all the effort they were doing making the scene and booking and things. And we made friends! That was the '90s.

Where did your initial interest in music come from?

SB: I grew up around music, my dad's been in bands since before I was born. He was in a bunch of rock and roll bands. His band would cover a bunch of punk bands. There was just a lot of rock and roll around. My earliest memory of my dad is him with a clip on skeleton earring and eyeliner.

LR: My dad had an acoustic guitar. He knew a few chords – he taught me "Louie Louie" when I was little, and that's pretty much the extent of my rock and roll – primitive and just on pure spirit. I found a Buddy Holly Best Of The Crickets tape, it was a white tape with blue ink on it, and it was just in the dirt, and I played it in my Fisher-Price little boombox, and I loved it. It kind of set the standard of the kind music and caliber that I love, and so that was the beginning of rock and roll.

Burger is located here in Southern California. Did both of you grow up here?

SB: I grew up in Fresno, but I kinda grew up here; I moved here in 8th grade. My formative years were spent in Southern California.

LR: I grew up in Anaheim, California. I was born in Santana, but I went to all the same schools, I went to each school in the neighborhood as long as I could, and graduated. We're just local boys that want to do well. We have that hometown pride, even though we crossed the tracks into Fullerton, we're still in the same neighborhood, grew up going to Bionic Records on Chapman just down the street from us, to be able to build something in your own shitty little town is pretty rad.

SB: Somebody in the Netherlands is like, "We gotta go to Fullerton, CA now!"

What sparked the idea to form your own label, and what do you guys aim to do as a label?

LR: Sean went to school in 2000, so I started another band to learn how to play music basically. When Sean graduated college, he came back home and joined our band, and then did that for a few years. And...everyone had their own "production company." We're burger boys, and we love hamburgers and Americana and rock and roll. So we just knew that's gonna be our moniker. So on flyers I was writing "Burger Productions" and things like that, and Burger was on the brain for many years. Our second single, we self released, I drew a little logo artwork, and Burger Records, a little joke, turned into a real life experience for us.

SB: Trademarking doodles since 2007!

As a label, Burger has become known to issue cassette tapes and vinyl for all different kinds of bands, what do you think a cassette does for a person rather than a CD, vinyl, or even now MP3s?

LR: It's tangible, it's real, it's analog. You get artwork, and you get music. You get a collector's item. All of our first pressings are usually hand numbered. For the most part all of the tapes are limited edition. But yeah, they're affordable.

SB: They're cheap to make, their turnaround is way quicker than LP or CD, and the minimum is super cheap, and you get them to people on tour.

LR: The people buying the cassettes, they're the same people that will buy the record. If we love a record, we're gonna collect the formats; I got a CD, I got a tape, I got a record, I got a reel-to-reel, I got an eight-track. They're like "oh you're a fan." Yes, I'm a fan.

You guys represent a wide spectrum of bands, but most seem to have a DIY attitude. Do you think that's a big thing for Burger as a label?

LR: We're the underdogs.

SB: We do everything ourselves so we're inspired by people who do everything themselves. We're gravitated towards those people and those bands, and they're gravitated towards us because they see the same thing in us.

LR: We love creating a magical workshop. Ideas or thoughts come from nothing and then they turn into an object of something, and that's really wild, and people are like wow you guys create a lot. Yeah, each idea is hours and hours of work and time, and who knows?

SB: We've got a million ideas going at once...

LR: Burger TV, Weiner Records, Burger Records, Burger Productions...

SB: Burger the Store, Burger the Label, merchandise, merchandise, merchandise!

LR: We don't think there's anything wrong with putting your face on a pillowcase. I'm down with that! We're into keychains, and bubblegum, and fun stuff, and I think that's part of our marketing genius – not being afraid to put our name on anything. It's just going to cause awareness of our brand. Burger's blowing up, you better believe it!

It seems like Burger likes to maintain a steady and personal relationship with its fans. Why do you think having a relationship like that is important?

LR: It's one in the same because the fans are creating records themselves, and so one minute you're a fan at a concert, and then you're giving us a demo, and then you're on stage at the next Burgerama – it works that fast, really. We fall in love with your band, we'll do anything in our power to get you exposure and turn the world on.

SB: It's so easy to be impersonal on the computer. Every other major record label just looks like there's a robot posting everything, there's not even someone doing it. It's really easy to lose touch with the fans over the Internet. By us being faces and being on Burger TV and being able to talk to people and introduce our bands to people through Burger TV and through the Internet and stuff, they feel closer to not only to Burger, but to us and to our business. They're a part of it. If it wasn't for them, we wouldn't be able to be here selling cassettes. Everyone is a player in the Burger game!

You guys have released a plethora of music for so many bands, what have been some of your favorite releases that you were most excited about?

SB: The Go box set was probably one of my favorite releases we've done. The Go is one of my favorite bands; we put out a five-cassette box set of demos, like 90+ unreleased songs, from 1996 to 2007.

LR: It's immaculate.

SB: The packaging came out really good. All the music is amazing, and it's never been heard before, and the only way you can hear it is through the cassette, there's only a few hundred.

LR: 450.

SB: If we could mass-produce them, we would. It's hard to make, it's like a whole package.

I've noticed Burger puts on a lot of awesome shows here in the record store itself. Who is the ultimate band you'd like to see perform in your store?

SB: Weird Al Yankovic.

LR: Teenage Fanclub.

Even though the label has only been around since 2007, it has gained a huge following, what do you want to do next for Burger?

SB: I want to take it to the moon or Mars.

LR: I want to have our own burger joint with a stage – have a permanent PA set up. We could have a bar and a grill, and a stage and a dance floor, and then have a Burger museum/record shop all wrapped in one, kind of like Burger Land. I have a bunch of ideas. I want to have Burger Town, where all our friends have their own outlets. So if one of our friends does fashion, they can have a little boutique, and a hair salon, or a thrift store, or any cool stuff that our friends are doing. I just think it would be so cool to have all our friends on the street, I just want to start owning, this is my town!

Burger monopoly!

SB: This is literally my town.

LR: The mayor, of Burger Town. The mayors. Keyholders!

SB: I just want the key to the city.