It turns out that colossal dirtbag pharma CEO Martin Shkreli, who has been all over the news for increasing the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat AIDS and cancer patients, from $13.50 to $750 per pill is one of the major investors in one of my own personal favorite labels, Collect Records, which is run by Geoff Rickley (best known as the frontman of Thursday, United Nations and No Devotion.) The news has put Rickley and his roster of bands, which includes Nothing, Sick Feeling, Creepoid and Wax Idols in an awkward spot.
Rickley spoke with Noisey about his relationship with Shkreli, and said that he first became aware of the firestorm on Twitter. He initially chalked it up to Shkreli’s “history of saying things that are very provocative,” but he soon learned that there was more to this than the sorts of garbage spewed from the mouth of Donald Trump.
Rickley was asked if he’d continue his relationship with Shkreli, and had the following to say:
My head is still spinning, and though I want to believe that there is some reason that he would do this that is some remotely positive way, the only thing I can see is that it is totally and completely heartbreaking.
I can’t see my future at all in the label. I have to see what the bands want first, and see if there is any meaning or any mission following all of this. More than anything, I want the bands to see that I hold art as the guiding force in my life. Ultimately I see this going in the same way it always does, where all the artists get blamed for everything and capitalism is never held accountable. I really think that if Collect is going to be scrutinized as being capitalism, but that is how music survives. I’m not making excuses for what has happened, but there is no corner of the music industry that doesn’t live and breathe from subsidies from business. It’s reductive and hypocritical to hold us and only us accountable though, we are all at fault in some greater way.
Some have been quick to judge Rickley, who currently fronts the anti-capitalist post-hardcore band United Nations, for a non-committal answer, though he is in a very tough spot. He has an entire roster of bands signed to deals, and severing his relationship with Shkreli will obviously have a significant impact on their careers, as well as his own.
Rickley said he was shocked by the news, adding that when he met Shkreli, a Thursday fan who bought the guitar Rickley used on Full Collapse, “there were no red flags at that time. I genuinely enjoyed his company, and I was just excited for the opportunity to work with him and to have someone who believed in my vision for the future.”
Nothing’s Nickey Money has already said that his band will “never be a part of a label that involves Martin [Shkreli.]” He did vouch for Rickley, calling him “an amazing individual,” who was “not aware of his background prior to working with him” and, along with Norman Brannon “have broken their backs to try to make this label work.” His bandmate Dominic Palermo added that he only knew Shkreli as a “sharp, young investor.”
Sick Feeling also shared a statement with FADER, saying they will not have anything to do with Collect if Shkreli is involved:
“We have been dismayed as details continue to trickle in about the business life of Collect Records silent investor Martin Shkreli,” the band told FADER over email. “One thing is clear; as long as he has a part in the label, we, Sick Feeling, cannot. Our experience with Geoff, Norm, and Shaun has been nothing but positive, however, we cannot continue to work with Collect as long as Martin Shkreli has any part in it.”
I’m willing to give Rickley the benefit of the doubt. I don’t see any way he could have foreseen Shkreli would do something this deplorable. To Rickley, Shkreli was probably just some rich bro who loved Thursday and wanted to give one of his favorite musicians some cash to start a label. The hands that hold the money are seldom clean. Hopefully he does the right thing and severs his ties with Shkreli. His fellow artists and the court of public opinion have already spoken.