Women allege sexual misconduct by Burger Records musicians


Casey Redd was 14 when she started going to exhibits placed on by well-liked indie-rock label Burger Information. The concert events, that includes up to date storage and punk bands, have been typically all-ages, and a swell of excited teenage ladies can be in attendance.

Three years later, when Redd was 17, she says Phil Salina, the then-29-year-old singer of the Portland-based goth-pop duo Love Cop, had intercourse along with her within the again seat of her automobile. He informed her to satisfy him on the far nook of the car parking zone on the Burger Information retailer in Fullerton, she says, then instructed her to drive a number of blocks away to a darkened neighborhood the place she alleges the statutory rape happened. (The age of consent in California is eighteen.)

Just a few days later, they once more had intercourse outdoors of a home present in Pomona, she says.

“I felt confused and violated,” she says, including that it took time, reflection and remedy to return to phrases with what occurred to her in 2013. “For years, a few years, I didn’t actually discuss to anybody about it — I felt actually ashamed — I felt prefer it was my fault for participating with him within the first place.”

She did inform one in all her shut mates about her sexual encounters with Salina. That pal, who commonly attended Burger Information exhibits with Redd, corroborated Redd’s story to The Instances in a cellphone interview.

Salina didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark by The Instances.

The Instances, nonetheless, reviewed texts that Salina despatched to Redd after she went public along with her accusations. In them, Salina apologizes and expresses regret, writing, “I received’t ever be allowed to play music once more and that’s honest.” He additionally wrote that he didn’t consider their relationship as abusive on the time however that he now understands that it was improper.

“I can be sorry till I die,” he wrote.

The Burger Boogaloo music festival in Oakland's Mosswood Park, July 1, 2017.

The Burger Boogaloo music pageant in Oakland’s Mosswood Park, July 1, 2017.

(Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Photographs)

Redd went public along with her expertise final summer season, sharing her story on her private Instagram web page and shortly after on a web page she created known as Lured_By_Burger Information, which posted accusations about males within the Burger scene from different feminine followers and artists. The web page shortly collected 1000’s of followers, spurring on-line outrage, nationwide media protection and public apologies from lots of the accused musicians.

Inside per week, the label ceased operations fully, prompting a long-overdue reckoning in regards to the prevalence of sexual abuse in Southern California’s underground/DIY music scene.

One among Burger’s house owners, Sean Bohrman, declined to be interviewed for this story. The opposite, Lee Rickard, didn’t reply to a request for remark. However Bohrman acknowledged in an interview with Seattle radio station KEXP after Burger’s collapse that the label — which printed recordings by almost 1,200 bands throughout its 13 years in existence, along with internet hosting concert events and festivals and operating a report store in Fullerton — didn’t scrutinize the private conduct of the musicians with whom it labored. And it’s not clear that administration was listening to the exploitative sexual dynamics of the scene Burger fostered.

Because the allegations emerged, the label issued a statement that learn partially: “We prolong our deepest apologies to anybody who has suffered irreparable hurt from any expertise that occurred within the Burger and indie/DIY music scene.”

However the issues didn’t contain Burger musicians alone. The Instances interviewed almost two dozen ladies who detailed various levels of sexual abuse and harassment by musicians in Southern California’s indie rock scene through the previous 15 years.

A lot of ladies spoke on the report; others selected to stay nameless, both as a result of they feared reprisal or had already skilled it after posting their experiences on-line.

Their tales about what occurred in and across the Burger scene illuminate a broader tradition of sexual abuse in Southern California’s underground music world that — greater than three years into the reckoning introduced by the #metoo motion — has remained largely within the shadows.

Lee Rickard and Sean Bohrman in 2007.

Lee Rickard, left, and Sean Bohrman. They based Burger Information in 2007.

(Mackenzie Reiss/Orange County Register/SCNG)

A high-school clubhouse

Burger Information was based in 2007 by Bohrman and Rickard, partially to launch music from their very own band on the time, Thee Makeout Occasion. Burger championed catchy, do-it-yourself power-pop, surf-rock and bubblegum punk. It opened a report store in Fullerton in 2009 and Bohrman and Rickard lived there, washing their hair below a spigot within the alley and operating the label out of the again. The store quickly grew to become a preferred gathering spot for music followers.

As Burger grew, the label hosted a slew of well-liked exhibits and festivals round Southern California together with Burger-a-Go Go, which paid tribute to all-female-fronted bands, and the two-day Burgerama, which yearly drew 1000’s of followers and featured eclectic lineups of dozens of underground storage bands and indie rock giants together with Weezer, Ariel Pink, Fidlar, the Spits, Ty Segall, Roky Erickson and Gang of 4.

Burger’s fame was burnished internationally in 2014 when vogue design home Yves Saint Laurent featured the label’s music in Paris runway exhibits.

An all-ages ethos was key to Burger’s identification. Younger followers, together with these in highschool, typically mingled with older followers and musicians. Many ladies interviewed by The Instances described rampant drug and alcohol use, even at exhibits the place alcohol was not on the market.

The label didn’t comply with a standard enterprise mannequin. It didn’t signal bands or negotiate contracts. It simply reached out to bands it liked and launched largely limited-edition runs of cassette tapes, leaving it to different labels to courtroom the musicians it championed. It additionally made cash from the concert events and festivals that it convened.

Nonetheless, Burger’s output was prolific. It’s uncommon for a label to launch music in such abundance. That quantity is partially how Bohrman defined the dearth of oversight at Burger in a September 2019 interview with KEXP.

“After I discover a band I actually like, do I’ve to ask, ‘Have you ever raped anyone, and have you ever executed this or that’,” he stated. “After which how do you comply with up on that and get the complete story? That feels like a nightmare, and that’s not why I acquired into music.”

Casey Redd

(Christina Home / Los Angeles Instances)

At first, Redd felt at house amongst Burger followers and bands, and within the areas they occupied. All-ages exhibits have been held in warehouses, the report store and a big venue known as the Observatory in Santa Ana. The Fullerton retailer was painted a brilliant key-lime inexperienced and featured a extremely cultivated sense of graphic design characterised by a zany, minimize ‘n’ paste punk aesthetic in daring main colours (Bohrman minored in graphic design and cranked out the labels’ merch). The shop was full of buttons (“I’m a Burger Lady,” was one), stickers and posters, many that includes vintage-inspired, punk-themed cartoons. There was a again room the place musicians, employees and clients generally gathered. It felt, say lots of the ladies who hung on the market, like a high-school clubhouse.

“Of their advertising and marketing, they described themselves as perma-teens,” remembers Redd of Burger Information.

Redd says she started to commonly obtain messages from a number of the males in bands whose accounts she had adopted on social media.

When Love Cop’s Salina first reached out to Redd, she was 17. Salina was working as a mental-health counselor in Portland specializing in dependancy. Redd’s household had a troubled historical past with medication and dependancy, and he or she got here to belief Salina. She says they talked almost day by day.

“He knew the trauma that I carried and … my age and vulnerability. It was positively a grooming relationship,” Redd says, recalling how lonely, depressed and anxious she was at the moment. “We’d speak about cats and music. He was one of many only a few adults I felt seen by.”

Months later, Salina got here to Orange County to play a Burger present and invited Redd. It was her first time driving on the freeway when she crossed county strains from her hometown of Corona to Fullerton the place she says their first sexual encounter happened.

Afterward, Redd alleges, Salina messaged her typically, asking for nudes and sexual images. For essentially the most half, she ignored him however generally she engaged with him, not absolutely understanding how inappropriate the state of affairs was.

Redd stopped going to Burger exhibits when she was 18, however at that time she says she already knew a number of different underage teenage ladies who had been abused by grownup males within the scene.

“I idolized these individuals after I was a young person. I wasn’t in a position to see issues for what they actually have been,” she says. “It felt like a magical time that turned darkish in a short time.”

Redd is now 24 years outdated. She is a longtime vegan and animal rights activist with a mushy however agency voice and a considerate, simple method of talking. She says that through the years, not a day glided by that she didn’t take into consideration the truth that she was not alone in her expertise.

Cherry Glazerr guitarist and lead vocalist Clementine Creevy

Cherry Glazerr’s Clementine Creevy in 2019.

(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Instances)

That truth grew to become painfully clear through the summer season on July 15 when Clementine Creevy, the frontwoman of Cherry Glazerr, which launched its debut album by way of Burger, posted an announcement on Instagram accusing Sean Redman, the bass participant of one other Burger-affiliated band known as the Buttertones, of beginning a sexual relationship along with her when she was 14 and he was 20. That relationship, she wrote, was additionally emotionally abusive.

She emphasised, “I wish to say with no conditionality in anyway that THIS IS NOT ATYPICAL OF THE MUSIC SCENE.”

The Buttertones shortly minimize ties with Redman, posting a statement on Instagram that read, “We don’t condone Sean’s conduct and he’s not a member of The Buttertones.” The band was nonetheless dropped by its label, Progressive Leisure. The Instances was unable to succeed in Redman for remark.

Two days after Creevy’s disclosure, Redd additionally spoke up — posting on July 17 about her expertise with Salina on her private Instagram account. The next day, Burger Information turned off the feedback on an Instagram put up after ladies started writing about their traumatic experiences there. Redd noticed Burger’s motion as silencing victims, so she created the Lured_By_Burger_Records Instagram web page.

Redd’s second put up concluded, “When you’re going to promote tickets to youngsters, verify your creepy mates and don’t allow them to in.”

One other put up, which a girl who wished to stay nameless requested Redd to share, learn, “I’ve personally had many poor and inappropriate relationships and interactions with grownup males inside these scenes after I was a really younger teen.”

Comparable tales from dozens of ladies quickly started pouring into Redd’s direct message field, she says. Lots of the accusations of rape, sexual assault, abuse, harassment and grooming have been about Burger bands, and lots of have been in regards to the native underground music scene on the whole. Redd discovered herself spending as much as 18 hours a day on the location, fielding feedback, posts and allegations. She says the expertise was emotionally and bodily overwhelming.

As scrutiny of Burger intensified, different ladies spoke out and bands started to fall. Lydia Night time, the singer of The Regrettes, accused SWMRS drummer Joey Armstrong (son of Inexperienced Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong) of sexual misconduct and coercion, starting when she was 16 and Armstrong was 22. SWMRS launched music by way of quite a lot of labels, together with Burger. Armstrong posted an apology on Instagram, including that he didn’t agree with a number of the issues Night time stated about him, however that, “it’s necessary that she be allowed to say them and that she be supported for talking out.”

Arrow de Wilde, lead singer of L.A. indie rock band Starcrawler, stated she was sexually assaulted by a male stripper employed by the singer of the Growlers whereas the bands have been on tour collectively in Australia. (The Growlers launched music by way of Burger.) De Wilde didn’t title the stripper, instead focusing on the humiliation she says she experienced when members of the Growlers filmed the incident whereas laughing. Singer Brooks Nielsen issued an apology and two members left the band, though the Growlers lately listed three new tour dates for 2021.

The garage-rock musician Nobunny (Justin Champlin), who launched quite a few albums on Burger, admitted to a historical past of sexual misconduct and introduced that he would not play music. “I f—ed up dangerous. I used my energy and affect to benefit from younger ladies and teenage ladies,” he wrote in a statement published by Pitchfork; and different, smaller bands, reminiscent of L.A.’s Mystic Braves, which launched a cassette by way of Burger in collaboration with Lolipop Information, briefly disbanded in late July after acknowledging that harm had been done by sure members.

Redd was not alone in posting the harrowing tales of others. A lot of different anonymously run accounts cropped up, together with empowerment.la, which helps victims of abuse within the area’s music scene.

Scanning the tales on these accounts is like navigating a landmine of trauma, sorrow and bravado. Chunks of textual content pop on the reader: “Gaslighting and manipulating me,” “he ignored any and all bodily indicators of me attempting to flee,” “choked her close to the purpose of unconsciousness,” “I used to be too scared to report it,” “I blacked out and awakened in a studio bare and was bleeding and felt sore.”

Interior of Burger Records in Fullerton in 2010.

The Burger Information retailer in Fullerton.

(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Instances)

On July 21, Burger co-founder Lee Rickard stepped down from his position as label president and divested all curiosity within the label.

The label issued an announcement that learn partially that it was “deeply sorry for the position Burger has performed in perpetuating a tradition of poisonous masculinity.”

5 days after Redd’s first Lured_By_Burger_Records put up, Burger folded fully, taking with it the operation’s whole digital footprint. Bohrman capped his announcement of the corporate’s dissolution to a Pitchfork reporter with a Porky Pig GIF: “That’s all people.”

Besides it wasn’t. Not for the younger ladies who had their lives turned the wrong way up by the predation they are saying they skilled as naïve youngsters idolizing their rock gods. And never for the legions of women and girls of all ages all of the sudden confronting emotions about how all of this appeared eerily much like their very own experiences within the underground music scene, Burger-related or not.

“A recipe for catastrophe”

Sexual abuse has lengthy been half and parcel of the anything-goes, predominantly masculine rock ‘n’ roll ethos cultivated by the musical tradition, the bands that populate it and the labels that site visitors in it, say lots of the ladies interviewed for this story by The Instances.

Exploitation by male musicians is usually met with widespread acceptance from a scene that helps sexual fetishization of ladies as passive autos for male pleasure. The abuses endemic to Burger Information, they are saying, are consultant of the issue however removed from distinctive.

Certainly, the sexual conquest of younger ladies by older rock stars is usually celebrated, says Michelle Butler, a psychologist who serves as govt director and co-founder of Polaris, a residential remedy heart for teenagers. (Butler’s husband can be a music producer.)

“Many of those revered rock gods completely dedicated statutory rape. Everyone knows it, it’s been well-documented, and by some means it’s been written off as a part of the groupie tradition,” Butler says. “So you are taking any individual who’s just like the David Bowie of their little scene, and you are taking any individual who’s impressionable and perhaps a bit of misplaced, and it’s a recipe for catastrophe.”

In movie and tv manufacturing, some safeguards have been erected lately to guard susceptible artists together with using intimacy coordinators on set and new channels for reporting abuse. The music scene, by comparability, says one younger feminine musician with expertise in TV, is a “dumpster fireplace” in terms of defending feminine musicians. Followers in golf equipment, different ladies say, are merely on their very own.

Emily Langland

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Instances)

Emily Langland started going to exhibits on the Scent, a cavernous, graffiti-laden, all-ages membership housed in an outdated concrete storefront in downtown L.A.’s Historic Core, when she was in highschool.

Langland quickly met various older followers on the scene, and made the trek to a different beloved all-ages venue, the Glass Home in Pomona, to see Atlanta-based storage band Black Lips, which headlined Burgerama two years in a row. Burger additionally reissued 4 of the band’s albums on cassette.

Langland, then 17, was invited backstage by the opening band, and some days later the singer of that band invited her to a home celebration in Echo Park.

It was there in 2011 that she met Cole Alexander, the guitarist for Black Lips, who acknowledged her from the present in Pomona.

Alexander, who was 29 on the time, quickly started texting sexually inappropriate messages to Langland, she claims. She says he would textual content that he fantasized about her and that he appreciated being with submissive ladies as a result of he loved holding the facility in his relationships.

In a single textual content that Langland shared with The Instances, Alexander wrote that he needed to attempt to have intercourse along with her, utilizing a extra vulgar phrase.

“I like younger individuals however that’s tabboo [sic]. However I don’t fully know why. I’m 29.”

Langland says she was a bit of delay by his advances, however that she nonetheless counted herself a fan of his music.

“I went together with the issues he was sending me,” she says. “However I might attempt to change the dialog.”

Langland and Alexander finally had a sexual relationship when he was 30 and he or she was 18.

Alexander, when reached, declined to remark for the story. However in latest texts Langland shared with The Instances, Alexander wrote that he thought what occurred between them was acceptable.

“ I might by no means prey on anybody,” he wrote.

Langland disagrees.

“The one factor I’m attempting to get out of that is accountability from him,” Langland stated. “I’m not attempting to cancel him.”

Taylor Kourkos

Taylor Kourkos was 16 when she grew to become concerned in a sexual relationship with the 21-year-old singer of the Burger-affiliated band Audacity.

(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Instances)

Taylor Kourkos liked Burger bands and commenced going to all-ages exhibits when she was 16.

On the report store, she says she was commonly invited into the again room and supplied beer, alcohol and weed. Older guys from bands hung on the market and Kourkos says they showered her with compliments.

Kourkos acquired right into a band known as Audacity, which launched a 7″ report and a cassette by way of Burger. After posting images she took at a present, the band’s lead singer, Matt Schmalfeld, flirted along with her on social media.

Kourkos needed to make a music video for her highschool historical past class and requested Schmalfeld if he can be in it. To her shock, he stated sure. After that, they developed a more in-depth relationship that she alleges quickly turned sexual. Kourkos was 16, Schmalfeld was 21.

Kourkos says that Schmalfeld gave her alcohol, free tickets and backstage entry. She says he made feedback about how well-developed and mature she was for her age and informed her they needed to maintain their relationship a secret.

“He informed me that the band would break up, that he would go to jail and lose his job,” Kourkos says.

Their relationship continued for a yr. They’d meet and hook up, and Schmalfeld would keep away from being seen with Kourkos in public, she says.

“Ultimately he acquired a girlfriend and I used to be fully forgotten,” Kourkos says.

A pal of Kourkos, who used to go to Burger exhibits along with her and took footage of the bands, stated in a phone interview with The Instances that Kourkos informed him about her relationship with Schmalfeld on the time.

Schmalfeld declined to remark for this text.

When Kourkos was backstage at exhibits, she says there have been often different teenage ladies. She says the fellows in bands would provide them alcohol and medicines.

“There can be teenage ladies handed out or freaking out on medication on the exhibits, they usually have been at all times by some means being comforted by these older males, and never by their mates,” Kourkos says. “It was a really harmful setting.”

One fan remembered listening to the boys who frequented Burger exhibits referring to younger followers as “Prosti-tots.”

“They have been actually luring youngsters backstage, on the store, to their properties, and of their vehicles,” says Kourkos.

Charlotte Froom

Charlotte Froom, previously of The Like, alleges that she was sexually assaulted when she was 22. “In hindsight, it took me numerous time to know it wasn’t my fault.”

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Instances)

Charlotte Froom, 34, was as soon as the bassist of the L.A.-based, Geffen-signed, all-female band The Like, and is now making music below the title Spiders & Hearts, which is signed to well-liked indie label Narnack Information.

When she was 22, Froom alleges she was sexually assaulted by Darren Rademaker, the vocalist and guitarist of L.A.-based psych-pop band The Tyde, which launched a cassette titled “Darren 4” by way of Burger Information in 2016, and performed a number of Burgerama festivals earlier than that.

Froom says the incident occurred after Rademaker drove her house from Little Pleasure, an Echo Park dive bar well-liked with musicians and artists within the space. The chums she got here to the bar with had left and he or she discovered herself alone with Rademaker.

“I don’t know what number of drinks I had, as a result of he saved placing drinks in entrance of me,” Froom remembers. “My glass was by no means empty.”

After they acquired to her neighborhood, he wouldn’t let her out of the automobile in entrance of her residence; as a substitute, Froom says, he continued to drive round for nearly 45 minutes till he might discover road parking.

“I saved saying, ‘You stated you’d drop me off, please drop me off,’ and he wouldn’t let me out of the automobile, after which he pressured himself into my residence,” Froom says.

As soon as he was inside he stated they need to have a nightcap. Froom says she was so drunk that she poured one, and after that she alleges that Rademaker raped her whereas she got here out and in of consciousness.

Earlier within the night, Froom stated, “I used to be saying no to all the things,” recalling how she repeatedly had requested Rademaker to drop her off and to go away. However by the tip of the night time, she stated, she was too intoxicated to consent. “I didn’t really feel I had any management of the state of affairs.”

“I used to be identical to a useless physique,” she stated. “There was combat, flight or freeze, and I used to be frozen.”

Rademaker, she says, was married on the time, and Froom knew his spouse, which solely added to her nervousness and sense of disgrace afterward. It was that disgrace, she says, that saved her from submitting a police report or in any other case going public along with her expertise.

Rademaker didn’t reply to a number of requests for remark.

“In hindsight, it took me numerous time to know it wasn’t my fault,” Froom says. “I used to be too ashamed to inform my therapist as a result of I used to be like, ‘I put myself on this place.’”

Froom finally did inform her therapist who confirmed her story to The Instances, as did her ex-husband, whom Froom informed after they have been married.

Froom’s story mirrors tales informed by different ladies who at first blamed themselves for the sexual abuse inflicted by males they trusted, dated or in any other case befriended.

“It’s all managed by males”

The group of outcasts that comprise a lot of the DIY/underground music scene, say the ladies and ladies who belonged to it, presents itself as liberal and inclusive, but it surely typically betrays those that want it and belief it essentially the most.

“They assume they’re progressive as a result of they’re artists, but it surely’s all managed by males,” says music fan and artist Amanda Martin, who was closely concerned within the So Cal music scene from 2003 to 2015. She remembers experiencing varied types of harassment and emotional abuse. “They get to decide on who performs the exhibits and which woman will get to be in a band. It’s straightforward for them to keep up energy.”

Girls who play music within the scene know all too properly the challenges of constructing artwork in testosterone-driven environments the place they should continually be on the look-out for conditions that might shortly change into dangerous, says Could McDonough, 35, who now works as a movie composer, however fronted the garage-punk band The Could Firm.

McDonough had music launched on Burger compilations and performed many exhibits with Burger bands. She remembers that males within the bands would say sexually derogatory issues about ladies in entrance of her and that one band even inspired feminine followers to bodily combat to be able to decide who can be taken house by the band that night time.

“It’s already a ubiquitous a part of our society,” McDonough says of sexual abuse and assault. “And then you definitely get all the way down to this myopic rock ‘n’ roll tradition. When you’re a rock ‘n’ curler, if you happen to’re inventive, no matter impulse you could have is meant to be indulged.”

McDonough remembers an occasion the place she fell asleep alongside mates on the ground of the home the place she was staying. When she woke, a person was spooning her together with his fingers down her pants. She stated “no” thrice, sufficient that she feared the state of affairs might flip violent.

“I simply needed to be mates with different musicians,” says McDonough. “We have been three ladies in a band, hoping to be part of a group, and the suggestions was, ‘You’ll at all times be seen as this sexual part, and don’t complain about it, as a result of that is how issues are.’”

For her half, Casey Redd is heartened by the sisterhood and help she discovered after creating Lured_By_Burger_Records, and he or she hopes this reckoning will result in lasting change within the scene. She’s nonetheless in shock {that a} once-thriving label — a label that used to play such a big position in her life — fully unraveled in lower than per week, because of an Instagram web page that gave voice to scores of ladies who had remained silent for too lengthy.

“I wasn’t anticipating that in any respect, for them to only fully take away all presence from the web,” Redd says. “I nonetheless haven’t been in a position to course of it.

Redd stopped posting to the account on the finish of July, writing that she wanted an prolonged interval of relaxation and restoration.

She’s unsure what comes subsequent. Therapeutic, she says, is a lifelong journey.


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