AIDS Drug Price-Gouging CEO Slammed By Punk Bands On His Brooklyn Label
Outraged indie acts on Martin Shkreli-funded Collect Records are up in arms.
The former hedge fund manager who became one of the most hated men on the Internet after he jacked up the price of an AIDS drug by 5,000 percent is now facing fierce backlash from the punk rock bands on Collect Records, the boutique Brooklyn label he reportedly funds.
Martin Shkreli, the founder and CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, shot to infamy this week after The New York Times reported that his company acquired rights to Daraprim, a drug used to treat life-threatening parasitic infections in AIDS and cancer patients, and had outrageously upped its price from $13.50 to $750 a pill.
Shkreli, 32, who has since been described as “Big Pharma’s Biggest Asshole” by The Daily Beast, defended himself on Bloomberg TV, saying the life-saving drug was being “given away for nothing,” before obnoxiously tweeting out quotes from Eminem’s “The Way I Am” to his detractors.
Now, Nothing, a Philadelphia post-punk band on the Collect roster, have vowed to not release any music on the label so long as Shkreli is involved.
“Majors have scummy money, but this is unreal,” said Nothing singer Domenic Palermo. “It’s like finding out that your wife is a serial killer on the side, and you’ve been with her for 10 years.”
Nothing had previously released a special edition of their 2014 debut album Guilty of Everything, featuring rainbow flag artwork, with proceeds benefiting homeless LGBT youth, via the charitable organizations New Alternatives and the It Gets Better Project.
Collect Records, which was founded in 2009 and is operated by Geoff Rickly, singer of Thursday and No Devotion, is based out of Greenpoint, Brooklyn and has released 14 albums.
Nothing were signed in June and have an album slated for a 2016 release. Ironically, one of the band’s most popular t-shirts features a large, pop-art rendering of a pile of pills, with the slogan “Get Well.”
“Last night I read an article about this guy who was hiking up prices on some pharmaceutics that were leaving people on their death beds empty handed due to the cost,” Palermo posted Tuesday on Nothing’s Facebook page.
“Not soon after that found out that this guy is backing the label I’m about to release a record on…But by 6 am today I literally just felt disgusted by everything and this seems to be in fact, the work of a soulless man.”
Palermo said he has traded emails with Rickly and stated emphatically, that, like himself, Rickly was unaware of Shkreli’s shady business practices and only knew him as a “sharp, young investor.”
Though they’re often described as a shoegaze or dream pop band, Nothing’s members are all tied to the punk and hardcore scenes, with Palermo fronting the band Horror Show in the early aughts.
After releasing Guilty of Everything on Relapse Records, Nothing was cautious about their next move and talked to both indie and major labels.
With Collect being an indie strongly rooted in the hardcore punk scene, it provided Nothing with both creative freedom and confidence that it was the right home for their next LP. Until now, that is. (Collect Records has so far not responded to a request for comment).
Meanwhile, Shkreli seemed to back off his wildy controversial price hike in a TV appearance on Tuesday night.
“We’ve agreed to lower the price of Daraprim to a price that is more affordable,” Shkreli said on ABC World News Tonight.
He didn’t say what that “affordable” price would be, but insisted that the company already gives away the drug for free to about half the patients who use it and that Turing plans to expand its charitable drug program. Stay tuned.
Photos by Getty