Sat., Sept. 15, 8 p.m. $10. With Fake Babies & Kids with Crushes DJ set. Reclamation Lumber, 424 Grand Ave., New Haven. sidewalkdave.com.
The inspiration for Sidewalk Dave's new record, Hard on Romance, can be summarized in two words: bees fucking.
The album cover is a diagram showing the anatomy of a queen honey bee. "Sidewalk" Dave Van Witt explains why.
"There are drone bees and worker bees," he says. "Worker bees make the honey. Their life goal is to do nothing but make honey. I guess they're male, but they're completely un-sexual creatures. They never have sex. They just do work. I feel like there are a lot of those in today's society… Then there's the drone bees. Their entire existence is based on the hoping that one day they can mate with the queen bee, which they may or may not do in their lifetime. And when the queen bee does take a mating flight, all of a sudden they have something to do. Until then, they just eat honey and sit around and think about sex. Then they go and do the most beautiful thing there is: They go to make love. The hard part comes if they get lucky enough to catch the queen bee and have sex with the queen bee. Once he's finished, the queen stings his genitalia and rips it and his entire abdomen and all his guts out, leaves it in there, and then he falls to his death."
Bummer. Well, sort of. That's life, I guess. At least, that's the part of life encapsulated in Hard on Romance.
To celebrate the record's release, and all the double entendres and bee metaphors it contains, the band is throwing a party at Reclamation Lumber in New Haven, a warehouse space where during the day they reclaim wood from abandoned warehouses and industrial buildings and repurpose it. But on Saturday night the space will be transformed, with live music by Sidewalk Dave, Fake Babies and a DJ set by Kids with Crushes, food by Miya's Sushi, free albums for the first 50 guests and a whole bunch of other surprises. The organization Outpost is helping to curate a "GlitterGlamour" party, and will be bringing in some visual artists from locally and New York to exhibit and visually spice up the room.
"I don't want anything I do to be mundane," says Van Witt. "I didn't want it to be just another gig at just another bar."
This album will be the first since Sidewalk Dave was signed to New London's Telegraph Recording Company (whose roster includes Daphne Lee Martin & Raise the Rent, Fatal Film, Matt Gouette, etc.), and the party will be raising funds to help offset the costs of printing. Securing the space and planning the party has proven to be challenging.
"Connecticut is not supportive of this kind of stuff," says Van Witt. "They don't want people to have events unless they're big money events, which forces us to do everything underground. Then people can get sued and their lives can be ruined, so we have to get insurance and all that."
The do-it-yourself ethos has always been embraced by the band, but with time it's becoming more and more of a defining characteristic. In addition to creating a new venue to host the show, Van Witt also directed the video for the first single "Honey Bee," makes all the posters and artwork and manages the website too.
"Today the person who just focuses on music as his only craft is going to have a more pigeon-holed way of creating and less of a chance at becoming successful," he says. "Why outsource something if you've got a vision? It's never existed before, this chance to be your own complete business person. But it's hard to do. It's hard to switch from one to the other."
The band's sound has also become more hard-on than the acoustic-based records fans may know from its bast. Hard on Romance has got more of what could be described as an alternative '90s feel.
"I don't want to be a folk rock band anymore," says Van Witt. "I don't want to be any genre. I've become freer with everything. I like to collaborate a lot and I enjoy reigniting the flame by playing with other people. But we've always had an all for one, one for all mentality in this band. It's never felt like "my" project. I don't think I could've done any of this by myself. I'm always surrounded by musicians who are better than me."