Ween live in Edmonton, November 2007
|Origin||New Hope, Pennsylvania, USA|
|Genres||Alternative rock, experimental rock, avant-garde, neo-psychedelia, lo-fi|
|Labels||Elektra, Chocodog, Sanctuary, Rounder, Shimmy Disc, Schnitzel Records Ltd.|
|Associated acts||Moistboyz, Z-Rock Hawaii|
|Past members||Dean Ween
Claude Coleman Jr.
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 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", 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".
- 1 Early years
- 2 Major releases
- 3 Break up
- 4 Work with SpongeBob
- 5 Style and influences
- 6 Members
- 7 Discography
- 8 Singles
- 9 References
- 10 External links
The name Ween comes from a made up word Freeman and Melchiondo regularly used which is a combination of the words wuss and penis. Their earliest home recordings were drug fueled and free-spirited, Aaron even admitted on Marc Marons WTF podcast that in their early years they enjoyed annoying people. 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. 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.
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; it and the video for "I Can't Put My Finger On It" were again featured on Beavis and Butt-Head, both earning a decidedly more positive reception than "Push th' Little Daisies" had. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
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. 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.
On May 29, 2012, Freeman announced the end of Ween, saying, "It's been a long time, 25 years. It was a good run." 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." 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."
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."
Work with SpongeBob
In 2000, Ween wrote the song "Loop de Loop" for the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Your Shoe's Untied." Originally from The Mollusk, their song "Ocean Man" was in the credits of The SpongeBob Movie in 2004.
Style and influences
Ween's musical style incorporates elements of genres ranging from country rock, hard rock, punk rock, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, heavy metal, and speed metal, to country pop, country folk, honky tonk, flamenco, funk, pop, psychedelic pop and soul. Their lyrics are usually humorous in tone, and their influences include Prince, Thin Lizzy, Queen, The Spinners, Pink Floyd, Beastie Boys, The Beatles, David Bowie, Butthole Surfers, The Dead Milkmen, Led Zeppelin, Meat Puppets, Motörhead, Steely Dan, Talking Heads, Violent Femmes, Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, Bob Seger, Van Halen, Hank Williams, The Residents, America, UFO, and Bruce Springsteen.
- Kramer - bass on tour of UK in 1992
- Chris Williams (Mean Ween) – bass on "Alone" (The Pod), second vocals on "Little Birdy" (Pure Guava), bass (The Mollusk), live
- Scott Lowe – second vocal and whistling solo on "Don't Get Too Close" (Pure Guava), various backing vocals (Chocolate and Cheese), second vocal on "Rift" (Shinola, Vol. 1)
- Pat Frey – drums on "Baby Bitch", "Mango Woman", "I'll Miss You", "Shot Heard 'Round the World"
- Guy Heller – vocals on "Flies on My Dick" (Pure Guava)
- Bobby Ogdin, piano; Charlie McCoy, harmonica/trumpet/tuba; Pete Wade, guitar; Buddy Harman, drums; Russ Hicks, steel guitar; Bob Wray, bass; Kip Paxton, bass; Buddy Blackman, banjo; Buddy Spicher, fiddle; Hargus "Pig" Robbins, piano; Dennis Solee, clarinet; Gene Chrisman, drum – musicians on 12 Golden Country Greats
- Bobby Ogdin & The Shit Creek Boys – Bobby Ogdin, piano; Danny Parks, guitar; Stu Basore, steel guitar; Matt Kohut, bass; Hank Singer, fiddle — touring band 1996/Live In Toronto Canada/Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live 1990–1998
- Jason Fuller – keyboards in touring band 2001
- Josh Freese – drums on Quebec
- David Sanborn - Saxophone on "Your Party"
- Reverend B-ILL (Bill Fowler) - Sound of Urchin - Guitar on "Polka Dot Tail" (The Mollusk)
Early independent releases (1986–1989)
|1986||The Crucial Squeegie Lip|
|1987||Axis: Bold as Boognish|
|1987||Erica Peterson's Flaming Crib Death|
|1988||The Live Brain Wedgie/WAD|
List of notable demo tapes
|1990||The Pod Demos (The Bilboa and Big Timmy Wasserman Tape and Bilboa)|
|1991||Pure Guava Demos|
|1992||Chocolate & Cheese Taster – Demos Summer 1992|
|1994||12 Golden Country Greats Demos|
|1995||Mollusk Sessions (Released 2007)|
|1997||White Pepper Demos|
|2001–2003||The Caesar Demos (Released 2011)|
Studio albums (1990–present)
|1990||GodWeenSatan: The Oneness||Twin/Tone, reissued 2001 Restless|
|1991||The Pod||Shimmy Disc, reissued 1995 Elektra|
|1994||Chocolate and Cheese||Elektra|
|1996||12 Golden Country Greats||Elektra|
|1999||Craters of the Sac||online only MP3 release|
|2005||Shinola, Vol. 1||Chocodog|
|2007||La Cucaracha||Rounder Records|
|1999||Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live 1990–1998||Elektra|
|2001||Live In Toronto Canada||Chocodog/Schnitzel Records Ltd.|
|2002||Live at Stubb's 7/2000||Chocodog|
|2003||All Request Live||Chocodog|
|2004||Live in Chicago||Sanctuary|
|2008||At The Cat's Cradle, 1992||Chocodog/Schnitzel Records Ltd.|
|1992||Sky Cruiser EP||White Records|
|1994||I Can't Put My Finger On It EP||Elektra Records|
|1994||Freedom of '76 EP||Flying Nun Records|
|1994||Voodoo Lady EP||Flying Nun Records|
|1996||Piss Up a Rope/You Were the Fool EP||Flying Nun Records|
|2000||Stay Forever Promo EP||Mushroom Records|
|2000||Stay Forever Red Vinyl EP||Mushroom Records|
|2007||The Friends EP CD and limited edition picture disc 12"||Chocodog//Schnitzel Records Ltd.|
|Year||Title||US Alt.||AUS||UK Singles||Album|
|1992||"I'm Fat"||-||-||-||Non album single|
|"Push th' Little Daisies"||21||18||-||Pure Guava|
|"Sky Cruiser"||-||-||-||Non album single|
|1994||"I Can't Put My Finger on It"||-||-||-||Chocolate and Cheese|
|"Freedom of '76'"||-||-||152|
|1996||"Piss Up a Rope/You Were the Fool"||-||-||116||12 Golden Country Greats|
|1997||"Mutilated Lips"||-||-||-||The Mollusk|
|2000||"Even If You Don't"||-||-||135||White Pepper|
|"Stay Forever "||-||-||138|
|2003||"Tried and True/Mountains and Buffalo"||-||-||-||Quebec|
|2005||"Monique the Freak"||-||-||-||Shinola, Vol. 1|
|2010||"DC Won't Do You No Good"||-||-||-||Non album single|
- "Push th' Little Daisies"
- "Freedom of '76"
- "I Can't Put My Finger on It"
- "Roses Are Free"
- "Voodoo Lady"
- "Even if You Don't"
- "Transdermal Celebration"
- Darrin Levin. "Aaron Freeman Closes the Book on Ween". Rolling Stone. Retrieved May 29, 2012.
- Frey, Greg. "Aaron Freeman Ends Musical Relationship With Ween". Official Aaron Freeman Facebook Page. Retrieved May 31, 2012.
- "Ween Documentary".
- 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.
- David Kushner, The Top Ten Best Digital Music Entities of 2000, Rolling Stone, December 28, 2000, retrieved October 2, 2007.
- "Ween". Chocodog.com. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
- "Ween". ween. Retrieved 2011-07-07.
- "Ween . Net | Ween News | Ween Tour Dates | Ween Music | Ween Video | Gene Ween | Dean Ween". Ween.net. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- Krinkle, Henry (2011-08-15). "HENRY KRINKLE'S HOUSE OF SOUND: Ween: Caesar ("quebec" demos & unreleased tracks)". Henrykrinkle.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Ween Facebook page".
- "MTV Hive interview".
- "Glide Magazine".
- The Billboard Albums: Includes Every Album That Made the Billboard 200 Chart - Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- Billboard - Google Books. Books.google.com. 2004-10-23. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- Phares, Heather. "The Pod - Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Phares, Heather. "GodWeenSatan: The Oneness - Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Thomas, Stephen. "12 Golden Country Greats - Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- Ankeny, Jason. "Ween". AllMusic. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
- "Ween Strikes Back With 'La Cucaracha'". Billboard.com. Retrieved 2011-09-14.
- "Ween Songs ••• Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- "Ween Free Music Videos". MTV. Retrieved 2014-05-14.
- Official website
- Ween on Myspace
- Ween at the Internet Movie Database
- Browntracker - Live Ween BitTorrents
- Weenhub - Ween on DirectConnect
- Ween collection at the Internet Archive's live music archive
- New Hope-Solebury School District
- Ween at Rolling Stone
- Ween on iClips