Surviving a week of work/rock ‘n’ roll related exhaustion, I sat down with only a few hours left on my deadline, a personal recorder with always hard to hear audio, and a pocket notebook with notes of slightly better legibility scratched next to vegetarian food orders, which generally occupy the pages of said notebook I use for waiting tables at my day job. Fully using the anxiety that wracks your mind when you just don't have time to get shit done, and it needs to be done, I wrote the words you are now reading. Despite working every day of the madness that is SXSW, waiting on and serving a good chunk of the people that clog our toilets and our streets and generally just shit on our city three times as much as the standard amount of residents, I still made a point of getting out and seeing some of the shows put on by what I consider some of the hardest working people in the microcosm of an ever growing galaxy of music that I concern myself with. I went to every Burger Records and Burger City show I could muster up energy to survive at. My patience and feigned energy, mostly fueled by alcohol and highly caffeinated teas (Cocaine and Speed not really being my forte), afforded me the opportunity to see The Nerves, The Chumps, King Tuff, Feeding People, Pangea, Destruction Unit, Las Ardillas, Hector’s Pets, Nightmare Boys, Brain Attack, Natural Child, White Mystery, Vomettes, Bass Drum of Death and so many more bands which sent me into a fog of musical fervor. I fended off drunken fights I didn’t wanna get in. I wolfed down crappy, necessary food before I blew all my money on T-shirts and cassettes or doling it out for dirty margaritas and the endless beer that substituted my water intake for roughly seven days. On Sunday, with more than half of the people that temporarily bum rushed our city packing out to return to their homes and piss in their own streets, I caught up with the Burger Records Boys for one last hang out at a drag show put on by them and CMRTYZ, at Iron Bear, a bear-bar located in downtown Austin. Straight rock ‘n’ roll dudes donned slutty dresses and cat eye make-up to the apparent amusement of all the regular bears who were in for their Sunday drink. Upon arriving in my own slutty number, a black strapless dress with a gold sequined top I got from the Asian dress vendor next to Fiesta Mart, resembling an exhausted Tina Turner meets Whitney Houston, at any point after she started smoking crack, I slammed a few Pink Flamingos and I talked to Sean Bohrman, one of the founding members of Burger Records, about what it is they do.
Louis: It’s nice to finally meet you.
Sean: Yes and both of us dressed as women.
Louis: It’s funny, one of the last times I interviewed somebody, we were both wearing suits so this is …
Sean: Yeah it’s totally opposite.
Louis: Yeah, a full 180. So why would you say you guys are doing what you’re doing, what motivated you initially?
Sean: We started because we wanted to put out a record for our band The Make Out Party, and nobody else did, so we did it. Then there was this band Audacity that we played with all the time and all the kids went to their shows back home in Fullerton. They were just amazing, they had so many amazing songs and they were sixteen and seventeen years old, they were really young and talented. They had been a band for eight years already since they were in like sixth grade. You could tell their song writing was so good. I would be driving around, and I was like ‘what am I going to do?’ I need to put this band out, so we did a split with them on this other label, and while we were at the meeting for the split, I was like ‘Burger should do your LP.’ So it just started there and then we were in our van, Make Out Party was, at Kirby’s beer store in Kansas after a show and I was like ‘we should put out all these records on tape.’
Louis: Where did the tape angle enter into it?
Sean: It came from AM, this band from back home. They put out their album on cassette and it sounded really good and it looked really awesome, and nobody else was putting out cassettes at the time.
Louis: I feel like you guys have killed it as far as getting people into tapes. I am trying to do something similar in Austin, as far as getting people into cassettes and putting records out on tape, because it’s a very vinyl oriented town. Tapes are cheaper. They look great and they last way longer than CDs and records and you can carry them in your pocket.
Sean: That’s some of the main appeal of it. If you put out music on any format, and it’s music that people want to hear and it’s really good, people will buy it if they know it’s there. I’m on the internet all day, hyping stuff, emailing people, so many emails a day. I do all the internet stuff, and Lee, he’ll be sitting next to me giving out ideas. We get stoned all day and watch movies on Netflix. We run the store, we get stoned and watch Netflix. That’s my life. Which is awesome, but during that time I’m always working on Burger. From the moment I wake up ‘til I go to bed, Sean Bohrman doesn’t exist anymore. It’s just Burger. I went to college. I had a career type job. I cashed in my 401k and opened the record store and sold my car and got rid of all these life things that normal people think, ‘I’m an adult now. I have a job. I have a car.’
Louis: … I’m legitimate.
Sean: Yeah, I’m legitimate and throwing all this stuff away for Burger, and part of me I love taking showers, but now I can only take three showers a day, because I live at the record shop and there’s no shower there so I shower at my sister’s house. So that’s one of the bad things about it, and all the business stuff about it. The government makes it as hard as they can for you to succeed at business and when you do succeed, they want to take as much as they can. They’re terrible. I fucking hate the government.
Louis:I know. They just want to bone you when you’re a small business. What I’m doing is so much smaller of a scale compared to what you’re doing and I don’t have any employees, so if something has to get done I’m doing it. It’s just me, so I gotta wake up and do it and then go to work and try to do everything else I’m trying to get done, and then when I get off work it’s back to work on that stuff again. It’s all you can do though.
Sean: Yeah, like when I still had a regular job I was working like, all the time. I was working as the art director for this boating magazine, and I was working on Burger for six hours of the day and working on their stuff for four. Whenever they weren’t looking, I was working on Burger stuff or researching music. I got all nerdy about it.
Louis: I’m sorry, my titties are showing but I’m not going to put them away. What got you guys so stoked about doing what you’re doing?
Sean: Well, we all love music. We’re totally nerdy about records and record collecting. Like every record I’ve ever bought I would look up on All Music Guide and try to figure out who the producer was and who played on the recording. So that has a lot to do with it.
With a few days of recovery time and the city devoid of the hustle and bustle of thousands of tourists/visitors enthusiastically flooding the streets and bars and restaurants we all haunt, I was finally able to relax and went to visit my buddy Ben Tipton over at The 29th Street Ballroom on one of the nights he regularly DJs.
Louis: I’m sure you’re nervous for this, SUPER important interview here ... Ha ha.
Ben: I’m always nervous.
Louis: Ha ha ha. So what initially inspired you to do what you’re doing as far as Burger City goes?
Ben: Well, it all started when I worked at Billy’s flipping burgers.
Louis: Oh shit. I didn’t know you used to work at Billy’s, man.
Ben: Yeah. I got out of jail. I had went to jail for a while and I got out. I started picking up shifts there. Everybody who worked there was in a band, and everyone was into bands I was into especially when I was young. So I started listening to a lot more music. You know, I would always bring music to work, working in kitchens. I would bring a lot there though, and everyone else listened to good music, and they would bring stuff. We would just listen to a lot of rock ‘n’ roll, and punk rock, and we made burgers. Then after work we would go to The Grand and KC would be hanging out and we met him, and the jukebox was good there. So one night I said this would be a really cool spot for everyone to come and relax-all of our friends. Everyone I know is in the service industry and everyone lives up here and everyone was going there anyway, so maybe someone could come up here and play records or bring a laptop or something. Anything. Maybe on a Sunday night or something. Then about six months later he called me up and asked me if I wanted to do that, and it started from there. At first we called it the Night City Slang after the Sonic’s Rendezvous Band song. Jeremy Diaz who I did this with and Sean Cox would always say Burger City when we were at work. So it grew on me, and Jeremy and me kept doing the night together, so we changed the name to Burger City. I guess that’s how that came about.
Louis:Awesome. So what are some goals that you’ve got going on? I know you cover a lot of bases.
Ben: I think for this year I’m going to start trying to get into putting out 7”s. It’s something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while and I’ve been saving money. I’m talking to bands right now. My goal for the next year is to put out at least three 7”s. Hopefully some local, some not local. I’m not really sure what to do but that’s my direction.
Louis: So what would you consider are some goals you’ve set out to try and succeeded at? I mean right off the bat, the getting to see The Nerves was pretty rad!
Ben: Yeah, that SX party was great. That wouldn’t have happened without the Burger Records guys. Those guys are like kings of the party when it comes to SX. I’ve been having parties for the last three years, my goal the first year was to see bands. I’ve always worked in the service industry and you can never get it off, so I’ve never been able to go out and do SX shit. So I thought I’d throw a party where I could see every fucking band I wanted to see. I’ve been real lucky that I’ve gotten to do that. This whole thing has lasted a lot longer than I thought it would. It just kind of took on something else. Then here at The Ballroom my goal was for SX to get as much exposure as possible, get our bands from the city as much exposure as possible and hopefully grow over here and make people want to come back because they have a good time. That’s the best I can hope for—making new friends which you do every year. So I’m thinking of putting together an end-of-summer blow-out party. There’s a lot of bands that I’m thinking of and wanna spread out over like two days and invite some bands from out of town to come play some music. I think that would be a lot of fun.
Louis: As far as clothes go and all the T-shirts you make also, when did that become a whole part of what you’re doing?
Ben: Um, I always wanted to make shirts. Ten years ago, I was into graffiti a lot. I made stencils to make T-shirts because I had no idea how to screen print. Then this guy Charlie came over one night and showed me and Sara how to screen print. I always liked T-shirts, ever since I was a kid and I wanted to make my own.
Louis: Do you have any ideas for other kinds of merch?
Ben: I’m big on T-shirts and I’m big on buttons, but you know we’re trying ... me and Sara have The Last Of The Leather Age store on Etsy. It’s our store where we sell our T-shirts. It’s not just Burger City shirts. It’s just fun to do.
Louis: Yeah, I saw a picture of one of your Teenage Grease T-shirts in PORK magazine.
Ben: Yeah, I thought that was awesome. Really liked that. I like everything that guy does, Sean.
Louis: Oh yeah, man. It’s a great magazine.
Ben: I think the new issue will be out next week.
Louis: The cover of the last one is so sick!
Ben: Yeah, he’s a badass artist. My favorite thing he’s done is the Personal and the Pizzas button with the Rolling Stones tongue. That’s my favorite, but yeah I really like what that guy’s doing. I’m stoked for them to start being available down here.
Louis: Awesome. So that’s going on?
Louis: It seems like it should already be here.
Ben: Yeah, it’s a great magazine and people like it a lot.
Louis: Anything else you want to add?
Ben: Yeah. Be looking out for Bill Murray wearing a Burger City shirt on TMZ.
Louis: Ha ha. Was he wearing one?
Ben: No, but I gave him one. I think he could give a shit cause, I think it was The Summer Twins were like dancing for him, (laughing) and he was buying them clothes and I was a dude trying to talk to him about a T-shirt.