California garage rock label Burger Records has announced it will make “major structural changes” after multiple recent allegations of sexual misconduct were levelled against the label’s artists and employees.
They include the resignation of co-founder and president Lee Rickard, with the changes hoping to address a “culture of toxic masculinity”.
The Instagram account @Lured_By_Burger_Records, set up in the hopes of “amplifying voices and supporting those who were victims of sexual predation by predators involved with Burger Records”, has detailed dozens of accusations against numerous employees and artists affiliated with the label, alleging it was complicit in creating “a cesspool of trauma by allowing these men to prey on children”.
“Burger Records is responsible for curating a culture built on pedophilic tendencies and teenage fetishization, allowing predators access to the thousands of teenagers paying $$$ to go to their nearly-daily shows being held,” they wrote.
“Men of Burger Records lured teens in vans, the back room of Burger Records, and a storage unit someone was living in within the Burger Records lot.”
— BURGER RECORDS (@BURGERRECORDS) July 18, 2020
In addition to Rickard stepping down, label co-founder Sean Bohrman will move into a “transitional” role, with Jessa Zapor-Gray becoming interim president. Bohrman told Pitchfork he will eventually step down from the role altogether to assist Zapor-Gray in taking over label operations.
The label went on to outline multiple other structural changes, including pledging to create a fund “to help pay for counselling services for those who suffered such trauma while engaging in the Burger scene”.
Burger Records also will rename itself BRGR RECS in order to make a “clear delineation” between the old and new label, and start an all-woman imprint called BRGRRRL, which will “serve to give many more women artists a platform and support for growth as musicians”.
The label has pledged to provide a dedicated safe space for women at BRGR RECS events and implement a zero-tolerance policy regarding “unlawful and predatory” behaviour for acts it signs.
Members of bands associated with the label including The Growlers, SWMRS, the Buttertones, Cosmonauts and The Frights were accused of sexual misconduct, among others.
The Growlers are the only band to respond, with frontman Brooks Nielsen denying claims he “touched a female journalist on her breast during an interview that happened ten years ago.” He also said that guitarist Matt Taylor “denies” separate claims of sexual assault.
Nielsen added that across the band’s 15-year career, they’ve had “a number of members come and go… Some we dismissed from the group for not aligning with the kind of band we strive to be.”
“We extend our deepest apologies to anyone who has suffered irreparable harm from any experience that occurred in the Burger and indie/DIY music scene, the latter of which we take part,” Burger Records added in a statement.
“We are sorry that we did not actively monitor this behaviour well enough to make the Burger music scene safer for you.”
“The new interim president of Burger Records is a PR person working to re-brand a company built on predation,” the owners of the account claimed.
“She tried and failed to silence us over the last two days. Their first ‘substantive’ change was to rebrand the company as BRGR RECS.”
The announcement comes after an initial statement made by the label on July 18 following accusations.
“Several stories have been brought to our attention about some Burger artists engaging in the grooming of underage girls for sex, relationships built on power imbalance, and the solicitation of pornography from minors,” it read. The label went on to claim they had a “long-standing zero-tolerance policy for this sort of behaviour”.