The headquarters of the disgraced Burger Records label lives on as the White Rabbit Shop
In the early to mid-2010s, one of the most influential underground rock and roll music venues was in an Orange County mall. Located near Cal State Fullerton, not far from Disneyland, Burger Records was home to a constellation of businesses including a brick and mortar retail store, label headquarters, performance venue, residence, and an up and coming garage punk brand. Between the mint-green walls and shelves with candy-colored cassettes, shows for all ages were held regularly, where drugs and alcohol were supposed to be present. When allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced in July 2020 involving members of more than a dozen Burger label bands, the store was named as the location for some of the alleged abuse cases.
Within a few days after the allegations became known, Burger announced that it would at least close its label. But almost a year later, a shop under a new name remains quietly open at the old location. But not, it seems, under new management. Now called White Rabbit Records, the place looks essentially similar to its predecessor, with the same hue on the walls, the same distinctive “cassette” sign, and some familiar-looking artwork. Photos and videos on White Rabbit’s social media accounts appear to depict the same two cats that previously lived there, and they have the same names: Dee Dee and Queenie. In certain pictures, the burger logo can still be seen on the price stickers of vinyl albums. While it may come as no surprise that business continues – and that the rental bills have yet to be paid – the details of the new store have not been widely disclosed.
According to online research in Orange County, Sean Bohrman registered the company name White Rabbit Records on a September 30, 2020 filing. Bohrman founded the Burger label with high school friend Lee Rickard in 2007 when Bohrman was 25 and Rickard was 23 ; They founded the label in part to release music from their own band Thee Makeout Party. Bohrman opened the burger shop with another business partner in 2009. Bohrman and Rickard even lived there. Bohrman told KEXP journalist Emily Fox in a September 2020 interview that he used to work 16-hour days and wash his hair in a tap 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 on the White Rabbit business record, have been 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 that ran in runs of a few hundred to a few thousand. Mostly new editions, but also original material, included Burger’s discography over its 13-year span of around 1,200 bands, an extraordinarily productive release program. Some were cult favorites, like the cassette pressing of garage rocker King Tuff’s 2008 debut album Was Dead, but the label’s offering also included a 2012 cassette version of a Ryan Adams side project and a 2015 tape re-release of Green Day’s 1994 breakthrough album Dookie.
Burger was also known for its popular concerts and festivals. The Burgerama festival in nearby Santa Ana drew thousands of fans each year with lineups that featured such prominent artists as Weezer and Iggy Pop. In 2014, the Saint Laurent fashion house used the label’s music in its men’s fashion shows. Burger had a YouTube series. It had a radio broadcast.
Above all, Burger’s unusual shop-slash office had a certain seal of approval at times. In a 2014 profile of Burger, the New York Times wrote, “Burger HQ is a 24/7 freak lab and extensive promotions building a cultural movement from tiny resources.” Two years later, Rolling Stone named Burgers run-down homebase in a feature on cassettes as “the epicenter of modern cassette music culture”.