Martin Shkreli, the pharmaceutical CEO known as the ‘most hated man in America’ or the ‘pharma bro’ for raising the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat infections in AIDS patients and infants, by 5000 percent, is in more hot water. This time, it’s with the punk musicians he financially supports.
Bands on the independent label Collect Records have confirmed that Shkreli funds the label, and they aren’t happy about the association. Geoff Rickly, who fronted influential bands Thursday and United Nations, and now runs Collect, called the revelation of Shkreli’s actions “totally and completely heartbreaking” and said “I can’t see my future at all in the label.”
Hether Fortune of the band Wax Idols wrote in a Facebook post, “I am personally 100% am NOT FUCKING OK with this guy and his business tactics. If any of you have learned anything about me through being a fan of the band, I hope that you would know by now that this kind of advantageous rich guy greed goes against everything that I stand for.” Hether also clarified that Shkreli essentially donates money to Collect Records, and doesn’t make money when Wax Idols’ or other bands’ records sell.
The band Sick Feeling told FADER that “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.”
Dominic Palermo, frontman for the band Nothing, posted with dismay on Facebook: “I realize at this point that this person is barely a human being. I’m sure the whole world is filled with people like this. I try to keep those kinds of people as far away as I can.” “I’m not sure what the next step is here for us as were contractually attached to this person,” he continued, “but I had to share my revulsion with you all as the future is not quite foreseeable.”
Though Shkreli recently announced he would lower the price of Daraprim by an unspecified amount, the story has sparked outrage over the high price of prescription drugs. And his attempt to charge AIDS patients 5000 percent more while funding punk music is especially contradictory considering the history of the punk community’s involvement in early AIDS and LGBT activism.
The bands involved generally clarified that they do not blame Collect Records head Rickly for Shkreli’s actions. Rickly and the bands state that they didn’t know the particulars of Shkreli’s business dealings, just that he was a wealthy music supporter. “[Rickly is] a great guy and he like me had, no idea what kind of monster was funding the label and soon to be album,” Nothing frontman Palermo wrote. Rickly also cautioned against putting the blame on the bands or record label. “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,” he told Noisey.
“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.”