Ween

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Ween
Ween in Edmonton Alberta.jpg
Ween live in Edmonton, November 2007
Background information
OriginNew Hope, Pennsylvania, USA
GenresAlternative rock, experimental rock, avant-garde, neo-psychedelia, lo-fi,
Years active1984–2012
LabelsElektra, Chocodog, Sanctuary, Rounder, Shimmy Disc, Schnitzel Records Ltd.
Associated actsMoistboyz, Z-Rock Hawaii
Websiteween.com
Past membersDean Ween
Gene Ween
Dave Dreiwitz
Claude Coleman Jr.
Glenn McClelland
 
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For other uses, see Ween (disambiguation).
Ween
Ween in Edmonton Alberta.jpg
Ween live in Edmonton, November 2007
Background information
OriginNew Hope, Pennsylvania, USA
GenresAlternative rock, experimental rock, avant-garde, neo-psychedelia, lo-fi,
Years active1984–2012
LabelsElektra, Chocodog, Sanctuary, Rounder, Shimmy Disc, Schnitzel Records Ltd.
Associated actsMoistboyz, Z-Rock Hawaii
Websiteween.com
Past membersDean Ween
Gene Ween
Dave Dreiwitz
Claude Coleman Jr.
Glenn McClelland

Ween was an American experimental rock band. They formed in 1984 in New Hope, Pennsylvania when central members Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) and Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) met in an eighth grade typing class. Ween has a large cult underground fanbase[citation needed] despite being less known in American pop music. The band's style is eclectic, and while they could generally be referred to as rock music, one of their defining tendencies has been experimentation with various styles incorporating a strong element of humor and absurdity. Both Gene and Dean are skilled multi-instrumentalists who overdubbed various instruments on their recordings, though they also record with the regular touring band. Gene is normally the lead vocalist and Dean the lead guitarist. Lead singer Freeman announced to Rolling Stone on May 29, 2012 that he was "retiring Gene Ween",[1] and a few days later, Ween's manager, Greg Frey, told fans on Facebook that Freeman had decided to "end his musical relationship with Ween," in order to "more fully explore and pursue his solo career".[2]

Early years[edit]

The name Ween comes from a made up word Freeman and Melchiondo regularly used which is a combination of the words wuss and penis.[3] Their earliest home recordings were drug fueled and free-spirited, Aaron even admitted in their early years that they enjoyed annoying people on Marc Marons WTF podcast. Drawing on influences as far-reaching as R. Stevie Moore, Syd Barrett, The Beatles, Queen, Frank Zappa, Prince, Butthole Surfers, The Residents, D-Minus, and the lo-fi punk movement. They self-released six cassettes in the late eighties: Mrs. Slack, The Crucial Squeegie Lip, Axis: Bold as Boognish, Erica Peterson's Flaming Crib Death, The Live Brain Wedgie/WAD, and Prime 5. Around this time, Gene also released his own tape, Synthetic Socks, which featured Dean on a few songs. Ween were often compared in their early years to other offbeat artists such as Frank Zappa and Tom Waits, though they would eschew such comparisons.[citation needed] Ween's public debut was a "Purple Haze" cover closing a 1987 talent show featuring Lauren "Rainbow" Fihe on drums. Ween gained local recognition by playing bars in New Hope, PA such as John & Peter's on Main Street, and still frequent the establishment to this day.[citation needed]

Major releases[edit]

Ween signed to Twin/Tone Records in 1989 and released their first album GodWeenSatan: The Oneness. Produced by Andrew Weiss, it was made up of an eclectic 26 tracks.

The band released their second full-length album, The Pod, in 1991. Recorded on a four-track cassette recorder from January to October 1990, the album borrows its title from the Solebury Township, Pennsylvania apartment in which it was recorded. The duo's use of drum machines, pitch-tweaked guitars and vocals and drug-laced humor became a trademark part of their sound. The cover of The Pod was a parody of the cover of the 1975 Leonard Cohen album, The Best of Leonard Cohen, but with the head of Mean Ween (bassist Chris Williams) in place of Cohen's.

Pure Guava, the first of a series of releases on the Elektra label, featured their highest charting single, "Push th' Little Daisies" (1992) which gained them media and MTV attention, as the video was a highlighted target on MTV's Beavis and Butt-head.

Chocolate and Cheese followed in 1994, featuring tracks influenced by 70s pop/rock and soul, such as "Freedom of '76" and "Voodoo Lady," the latter of which appeared on the Road Trip and Dude, Where's My Car? soundtracks. The "Freedom of '76" music video was directed by Spike Jonze. At this time, Ween began to expand their live and studio line-up, providing both a crisper production sound in the studio and an easier live setup (up until this time, Ween had been using DAT tapes to provide backings for their songs). Chocolate and Cheese was also produced by Andrew Weiss, who has gone on to produce the majority of Ween's albums and become the duo's primary collaborator in the studio.

Ween turned to Nashville studio musicians for the recording of 12 Golden Country Greats (1996) which only contained ten tracks. There are two theories regarding the title of the album.[citation needed] The first claim is that it refers to the dozen veteran musicians, known as The Shit Creek Boys, who played on the album. The second claim refers to the fact that the band did indeed record twelve songs during the demo sessions for the album. When it came time to record the actual album, the band chose not to use two of the songs but also decided not to change the album title. The two removed songs were titled "I Got No Darkside" and "So Long, Jerry". "So Long, Jerry", a tribute to the then recently deceased Jerry Garcia, was featured as a B-Side on the "Piss Up a Rope" single.

The nautically themed album The Mollusk followed in 1997. Some fans and critics[who?] consider the album to be a culmination of Ween's penchant for satire, deconstruction, and pastiche, including 1960's Brit-pop, sea shanties, Broadway show tunes, and especially progressive rock. In 2007, Melchiondo himself named The Mollusk his favorite among Ween's oeuvre.[4]

The band's desire to pursue alternate forms of media led to the MP3-only release Craters of the Sac (1999), presented by Dean for online download and free trade. Elektra Records released a live compilation titled Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live 1990-1998 in 1999.

This was followed by White Pepper (2000), their pop-themed album and final studio set for Elektra. The track "Even If You Don't" was made into a music video directed by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Shortly after the release of White Pepper Ween started the Internet radio station WeenRadio, which was awarded third best Internet music site by Rolling Stone.[5]

Ween signed to Sanctuary Records in 2003 and released Quebec, their first studio set in three years. In 2004, they released Live in Chicago, a DVD and CD set that compiled tracks from two energetic live performances.

In February 2006, Dean and Gene, along with their band, rented an old farmhouse and converted it into a working studio. After writing over 50 songs and recording rough versions through 2006, they picked through them and, with Andrew Weiss as producer, re-recorded album versions for what would become The Friends EP and the full-length La Cucaracha which was released October 23, 2007 on Rounder Records.

Ween formed their own label in 2001, Chocodog Records, which oversaw the release of several self-produced live sets. Paintin' the Town Brown, which was compiled and mastered by the band, was meant to be the first Chocodog release. According to Dean Ween, once the album was completed, Elektra realized the sales potential of the CD and denied Ween the right to release it through Chocodog. Later, Ween released the first official Chocodog album, Live in Toronto (a live recording from the 1996 tour, in which Ween performed with Bobby Ogdin & The Shit Creek Boys). The limited-pressing CD, available exclusively through the band website, became an instant collector's item. Subsequent Chocodog releases (Live at Stubb's and All Request Live) were produced in higher volumes to meet demand. In 2005, the label released Shinola, Vol. 1, the first installment of a rarity compilation series, and announced plans to re-release the 1987 cassette tape by Gene, Synthetic Socks.

Co-founders Gene (left) and Dean (right) Ween in 2009

On September 21, 2008, Dean Ween announced on the official Ween website that they planned to release a CD-DVD combo before Christmas of that year. He stated, "This time we’re going to be going all the way back to the days when we were still a duo with a cassette deck in the early 90’s. It’s probably the brownest CD on the Chocodog label yet." That CD was titled At the Cat's Cradle and was recorded live at the Cat's Cradle in Carrboro, North Carolina on December 9, 1992. The duo emulated their early performances, using only a Digital Audio Tape (DAT) player for their backing tracks. The package also included a DVD featuring some video of performances from the same era.[6]

On March 10, 2009, Dean Ween announced on the official Ween website that he and Gene had started to rehearse once again. He added that fans should expect to see a "new look" Ween soon.[7] A potential new album was most likely postponed, as no further news about it surfaced.

On February 3, 2010, Ween released a new song, "DC Won't Do You No Good", that became available through a Target Cancer website.On July 28, 2010, the National Post featured an article with an interview with Dean Ween, in which it was stated that the band is due in the studio this winter to start work on its twelfth album.

On August 11, 2011, Dean quietly released a MP3-only collection of songs called The Caesar Demos, named after the band's original working title for Quebec, to friends on his Facebook page. In his comment, he stated the songs were all recorded between 2001 and 2003 while drummer Claude Coleman, Jr. was recovering from injuries sustained in a car accident, and that many of the tracks featured only himself and Gene. In addition to a handful of recordings that eventually made the album, the demos feature several alternate takes as well as a number of songs that have remained unreleased.[8][9]

Break up[edit]

On May 29, 2012, Freeman announced the end of Ween, saying, "It's been a long time, 25 years. It was a good run."[1] Melchiondo appeared to be unaware of this, stating on his Facebook page "This is news to me, all I can say for now I guess."[10] On July 20, Melchiondo addressed the supposed "break-up" and stated "I can only speak for myself, but as far as I’m concerned, as long as Aaron and I are both alive on this planet, Ween is still together. We’ve never broken up. The idea of quitting is just laughable. This isn’t something you can quit. This is a life sentence."[11]

Later, Freeman confirmed his departure from Ween was triggered by his desire to remain sober, saying "All that matters to me is that I’m getting sober. Becoming an out of control drug addict and alcoholic is my own fault and I take responsibility for it. I HAD to leave the Ween organization to stay sober."[12]

Work with SpongeBob[edit]

In 2000, Ween wrote the song "Loop de Loop" for the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Your Shoes Untied."[13] Originally from The Mollusk, their song "Ocean Man" was in the credits of The SpongeBob Movie in 2004.[14]

Style and influences[edit]

Ween's musical style incorporates elements of genres ranging from country rock,[15] hard rock,[15] punk rock,[16] progressive rock,[16] psychedelic rock,[15] heavy metal,[16] and speed metal,[15] to country pop,[17] country folk,[17] honky tonk,[17] flamenco,[16] funk,[16] pop,[16] psychedelic pop[15] and soul.[16] Their lyrics are usually humorous in tone,[18] and their influences include Prince,[19] Thin Lizzy,[19] Queen,[19] The Spinners,[19] Pink Floyd,[19] Beastie Boys,[19] The Beatles,[19] David Bowie,[19] Butthole Surfers,[19] The Dead Milkmen,[19] Led Zeppelin,[19] Meat Puppets,[19] Motörhead,[19] Steely Dan,[19] Talking Heads,[19] Violent Femmes,[19] Frank Zappa,[19] Jimi Hendrix,[19] Bob Seger,[19] Van Halen,[19] Hank Williams,[19] The Residents,[19] America,[19] UFO,[citation needed] and Bruce Springsteen.[19]

Ween joined members of Japanese group Boredoms to form noise rock supergroup Z-Rock Hawaii, and Dean is also a member of Moistboyz which sometimes features Dave Dreiwitz during live performances.

Members[edit]

The various line-ups of Ween were built around Dean (left) and Gene (right) Ween

Final line-up[edit]

Past members[edit]

Worked with[edit]

Discography[edit]

Early independent releases (1986–1989)[edit]

YearTitle
1985Mrs. Slack
1986The Crucial Squeegie Lip
1987Axis: Bold as Boognish
1987Erica Peterson's Flaming Crib Death
1988The Live Brain Wedgie/WAD
1989Prime 5

List of notable demo tapes[edit]

YearTitle
1990The Pod Demos (The Bilboa and Big Timmy Wasserman Tape and Bilboa)
1990Pandy Fackler
1991Pure Guava Demos
1992Chocolate & Cheese Taster – Demos Summer 1992
199412 Golden Country Greats Demos
1995Mollusk Sessions (Released 2007)
1997White Pepper Demos
2001–2003The Caesar Demos (Released 2011)

Studio albums (1990–present)[edit]

YearTitleLabel
1990GodWeenSatan: The OnenessTwin/Tone, reissued 2001 Restless
1991The PodShimmy Disc, reissued 1995 Elektra
1992Pure GuavaElektra
1994Chocolate and CheeseElektra
199612 Golden Country GreatsElektra
1997The MolluskElektra
1999Craters of the Saconline only MP3 release
2000White PepperElektra
2003QuebecSanctuary
2005Shinola, Vol. 1Chocodog
2007La CucarachaRounder Records

Live albums[edit]

YearTitleLabel
1999Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live 1990–1998Elektra
2001Live In Toronto CanadaChocodog/Schnitzel Records Ltd.
2002Live at Stubb's 7/2000Chocodog
2003All Request LiveChocodog
2004Live in ChicagoSanctuary
2008At The Cat's Cradle, 1992Chocodog/Schnitzel Records Ltd.

EPs[edit]

YearTitleLabel
1992Sky Cruiser EPWhite Records
1994I Can't Put My Finger On It EPElektra Records
1994Freedom of '76 EPFlying Nun Records
1994Voodoo Lady EPFlying Nun Records
1996Piss Up a Rope/You Were the Fool EPFlying Nun Records
2000Stay Forever Promo EPMushroom Records
2000Stay Forever Red Vinyl EPMushroom Records
2007The Friends EP CD and limited edition picture disc 12"Chocodog//Schnitzel Records Ltd.

Singles[edit]

YearTitleUS Alt.AUSUK Singles[21]Album
1992"I'm Fat"---Non album single
"Push th' Little Daisies"2118-Pure Guava
"Sky Cruiser"---Non album single
1994"I Can't Put My Finger on It"---Chocolate and Cheese
"Freedom of '76'"--152
"Voodoo Lady"32-122
1996"Piss Up a Rope/You Were the Fool"--11612 Golden Country Greats
1997"Mutilated Lips"---The Mollusk
"Ocean Man"---
2000"Even If You Don't"--135White Pepper
"Stay Forever "--138
2003"Tried and True/Mountains and Buffalo"---Quebec
2005"Monique the Freak"---Shinola, Vol. 1
"Gabrielle"---
2010"DC Won't Do You No Good"---Non album single

Music videos[edit]

Appearances[edit]

YearTitleLabel
1993En Esch - CheesyTVT Records
1993Freedom of '76: The Jane Pratt ShowLifetime Entertainment
1994Frente! - LonelyMushroom Records
1994A Merry Little Christmas : A Holiday Sampler from Elektra & EastWestElektra/EastWest
1995Kostars - Klassics With a KGrand Royal
1995Used & Recorded by 3RRR Vol.2Radio Release
1996Beautiful GirlsMiramax / Elektra
1996Ben Vaughn - Instrumental StylingsBar None Records
1996Yoko Ono-Rising MixesCapitol Records
1996Schoolhouse Rock! RocksAtlantic Records
1997Wah²German TV Show
1998Hub - HubSLASH RECORDS
1998Chef Aid: The South Park AlbumColumbia
1998The X-Files: The AlbumWEA
1998Magna Plasm: Volcom Stone Surf MovieVeeco Productions
2002Run Ronnie Run soundtrackNew Line Productions Inc.
2002Morvern CallarWarp Records
2000SpongeBob SquarePants (Season 2, Episode 1 "Your Shoes United)Sire/London/Rhino
2004The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie – Music from the Movie and More...Sire/London/Rhino
2008Weeds: Music from the Original Series, Volume 3N/A
2009G.N.A.R (ski film)N/A

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Darrin Levin. "Aaron Freeman Closes the Book on Ween". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 29, 2012. 
  2. ^ Frey, Greg. "Aaron Freeman Ends Musical Relationship With Ween". Official Aaron Freeman Facebook Page. Retrieved May 31, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Ween Documentary". 
  4. ^ Usinger, Mike (2007-11-08). "Dean Ween picks his favourite Ween disc, gives the back story on La Cucaracha". Straight.com. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  5. ^ David Kushner, The Top Ten Best Digital Music Entities of 2000, Rolling Stone, December 28, 2000, retrieved October 2, 2007.
  6. ^ "Ween". Chocodog.com. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  7. ^ "Ween". ween. Retrieved 2011-07-07. 
  8. ^ "Ween . Net | Ween News | Ween Tour Dates | Ween Music | Ween Video | Gene Ween | Dean Ween". Ween.net. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  9. ^ Krinkle, Henry (2011-08-15). "HENRY KRINKLE'S HOUSE OF SOUND: Ween: Caesar ("quebec" demos & unreleased tracks)". Henrykrinkle.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  10. ^ "Ween Facebook page". 
  11. ^ "MTV Hive interview". 
  12. ^ "Glide Magazine". 
  13. ^ "The Billboard Albums: Includes Every Album That Made the Billboard 200 Chart - Google Books". Books.google.com. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  14. ^ "Billboard - Google Books". Books.google.com. 2004-10-23. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  15. ^ a b c d e Phares, Heather. "The Pod - Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  16. ^ a b c d e f g Phares, Heather. "GodWeenSatan: The Oneness - Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  17. ^ a b c Thomas, Stephen. "12 Golden Country Greats - Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  18. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Ankeny, Jason. "Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10. 
  20. ^ "Ween Strikes Back With 'La Cucaracha'". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2011-09-14. 
  21. ^ "Ween Songs ••• Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 
  22. ^ "Ween Free Music Videos". MTV. Retrieved 2014-05-14. 

External links[edit]