FOLLOW US ON: follow us in feedly
GET THE NEWSLETTER
CONTACT US
That time Ween opened for Fugazi at City Gardens
07.28.2016
08:58 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
If you’ve read “Understanding Trump” by the cognitive scientist George Lakoff, you might recognize aspects of “strict father morality” in Fugazi’s code. It was funny, escaping the hierarchies of home and school to attend a Fugazi show as a teenager: You didn’t know which songs they were going to play, but you could be sure they would deliver a stern talking-to about your behavior before the night was over. That was a new development in rock and roll; I doubt Gene Vincent’s audience would have stood still for such a lecture, even if Gene had been the guy to give it.

Don’t get me wrong, they were great. But the values we associate with Fugazi—discipline, hard work, sobriety, authority, frugality, self-reliance—are traditionally paternal.
 

 
That’s why it’s such fun to imagine Ween, the crowned and conquering child of 90s rock, opening for them at Trenton, New Jersey’s City Gardens on March 19, 1991. Then a crazed, wasted suburban duo backed by a tape deck, Ween was still pretty loose back then, and at least as irresponsible as the Butthole Surfers: On that year’s The Pod, they encouraged their fans to believe Scotchgard™ was an excellent high. It’s almost impossible to imagine them lecturing a crowd about stage-diving. All they demanded of their fans was to keep bringing them home-cooked food.

Apparently, the show is briefly discussed in the City Gardens oral history No Slam Dancing, No Stage Diving, No Spikes. I had clean forgotten about it until last weekend, when, strangely enough, my copy of Flipside #84, in which I first read about this legendary bill, turned up during a long and fruitless search for my Pure Guava T-shirt. In Flipside reporter Ted Cogswell’s hard-hitting interview with Ween, conducted in January ‘93, Gener and Deaner cleared up some important points: if Pure Guava were a drug, it would be “love boat”; no, they had never really huffed Scotchgard™ (“Sorry kids”); and yes, they really had opened for Fugazi. All typos have been preserved out of respect for the indomitable fanzine spirit:

Ted: Wasn’t there an infamous show at City Gardens (in Trenton, NJ) once when you opened for Fugazi?
Gene: They hated us.
Ted: I heard that you guys just started, like, playing one note over and over again, and were staring into space,...
Dean: No, those are just rumors. We played that Ozzy Osbourne-Lita Ford duet, “When I Close My Eyes Forever”, They hated that. Then we did “Where Do The Children Play” by Cat Stevens.
Gene: And they hated that. It’s not a problem now anymore though, because people are starting to like our shows, so we can’t do “Where Do the Children Play”. We save that for, like, when we’re about ready to get shot.

 
More after the jump…

READ ON
Posted by Oliver Hall
|
07.28.2016
08:58 am
|
The artist formerly known as Dean Ween spearheads epic 37-minute cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’
11.19.2014
09:27 am
Topics:
Tags:


Photo credit: Beta Klein
 
The great and inventive band Ween broke up in 2012, but both parts of the group have remained musically active. Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) put out Marvelous Clouds, an impressively catchy album of Rod McKuen covers as well as an album called FREEMAN. For his part, Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) has been touring to support his side project Moistboyz’ fifth album, appropriately titled 5. (In that band, which also features Nick Oliveri of Queens of the Stone Age, Melchiondo goes by the name Mickey Moist.)

On February 21 of this year, Melchiondo “fulfilled a long-held wish,” according to Ultimate Classic Rock, when he took the stage at John and Peter’s in New Hope, Pennsylvania (long Ween’s base of operations) and cranked out a monster 37-minute version of Pink Floyd’s “Echoes,” which occupies side 2 of their 1971 album Meddle. That version lasted a paltry 23 minutes, so judging from that metric alone, Melchiondo’s version is obviously 61% better. On Live at Pompeii, the song is broken up into “Echoes, Part 1” and “Echoes, Part 2,” and the two tracks together clock in at about 25 minutes.
 

Photo credit: Beta Klein
 
Joining Melchiondo for the performance are Guy Heller (vocals), Bill Fowler (guitar and vocals), Ray Kubian (drums), Sean Faust (keyboards), and Chris Williams (bass). If you have any doubts about Melchiondo’s ability to write and execute a lengthy hard-rock guitar piece, I urge you to listen to “Woman and Man,” an epic 11-minute slab of ass-kicking rock that constitutes the penultimate track of Ween’s 2007 album La Cucaracha

As Melchiondo explained, “We grew up watching Live at Pompeii all the time and finally got to execute this song properly.” I’m no Pink Floyd authority, but I listened to the Pompeii version and the Deaner version back to back, and I think the 2014 version holds up pretty well.
 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider
|
11.19.2014
09:27 am
|
Teen Ween you’ve never seen: Another cult band’s high school talent show
03.04.2014
09:45 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Last week, DM treated you to the high school talent show set by Mike Patton’s Mr. Bungle, who would go on to become a proggy art-metal phenom in the ‘90s. Today, we bring you such a set from Ween, a duo of high-as-fuck, genre-hopping, weirdo rock homagistes who found completely unexpected MTV success in 1992 with “Push th’ Little Daisies,” and went on from there to find a Deadhead type following among fellow marijuana enthusiasts.

Ween’s first three albums, GodWeenSatan: The Oneness, The Pod, and Pure Guava, are hilarious, rambling affairs full of sophomoric stoner humor—there’s no telling how many bongrips and inane giggles met their maker during the zillion or so times I listened to stuff like “Pollo Asado,” and “Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy)” on repeat—and genre-savvy nods to basically any and every kind of music they happened to like. For Chocolate & Cheese and 12 Golden Country Greats, they narrowed their focus to explorations of soul and country, respectively. They returned to the unpredictable with 1997’s The Mollusk, and after that, I can’t tell you much, as by then I fell off of the weed—and Ween—wagons. I’ve really only skimmed their later output (thank you Martin Schneider and Spotify), though I found quite a lot to like about what I heard. They made well-regarded albums for very, very high people until 2012, when singer/guitarist Gene Ween announced the end of the band.
 

 
But that unlikely career arc began at New Hope-Solebury High School in lovely New Hope, PA, right across the Delaware river from Lambertville, NJ, where young Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo) and Gene Ween (Aaron Freeman) collided with destiny and possibly a Graffix bong (for tobacco use only) with a Dark Side of the Moon sticker on it. Melchiondo was kind enough to share some old footage with us:

I saw you posted a video of Mister Bungle at their high school talent show so I thought I’d mail you this equally awful clip of Ween at our talent show (which we won). It’s me (Deaner) on guitar, Aaron (Gene Ween) on bass, Christina Serino on drums, and our friend Scott Lowe (who is now a nationally syndicated DJ) on vocals. After losing for 3 years we finally won this year, our juinior or senior year, I can’t remember? It’s “Boys” by the Beatles.

Before the predictable commenters injure themselves by speed-typing while hyperventilating, yes, many, many people are aware that the song was originally recorded by The Shirelles.

So here’s that video. Why not watch it with a bud?
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch
|
03.04.2014
09:45 am
|
Gene Ween is no more: Download the final demo recordings of ‘Gener’
11.15.2013
04:38 pm
Topics:
Tags:

Aaron Freeman, formerly of Ween
Aaron Freeman, formerly of Ween
 
In May 2012 it was announced that Ween would be breaking up for good. Anyone who’s been following the progress of the band can plainly see that the breakup was mostly the doing of Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween), whereas Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) seemed perfectly content with the status quo, that is, the intact and occasionally inactive duo they’ve been since the mid-1980s. (For his part, Melchiondo has been spending his time fishing on the South Jersey shore—in fact, you can pay to spend a few hours in his company reeling in a few flounder.)

It became apparent that Freeman has been battling substance abuse for a good long while: he had a few “problematic concerts” in the last years of Ween and had showed considerable weight gain. He’s since successfully completed a rehab regimen and is looking trim these days. For him, the sad dissolution of one of the most fertile groups of recent years was necessary to his own well-being: “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.”

Since the breakup of Ween, Freeman has stopped doing solo performances under the name Gene Ween and has started using his own name as a performer. Last year he released Fabulous Clouds, a touching album of covers of songs by Rod McKuen.
 
Gener's Gone
Gener’s Gone: The Final Demo Recordings of Gene Ween (2009-2011)
 
Today Freeman quietly dropped an unexpected message to his fans, via email: what is most likely the final nail in the coffin of the persona of Gene Ween. On the bandcamp.com website, for a suggested price of $6, you can download Gener’s Gone: The Final Demo Recordings of Gene Ween (2009-2011), which has six tracks. If you are a Ween fan or generally wish Freeman well, I highly recommend laying out the six bucks.

The last song of the set of songs is called “Gener’s Gone.” For anyone who’s been following the progress of Ween and Freeman over the last few years, the lyrics just could not be more gut-wrenching:
 

“Gener’s Gone”

Gener’s gone
Let’s hold a candle up for Gener
He loved you all just like his children
And it broke my heart to say goodbye

Where have you gone?
Some say you took off with the Argus
Prancing lightly with the Stallion
No man should ever be so free

If everyone had a hit, there’d be a poll to count up the styles in culture
If I could sing like the old man, he’da slapped my back and ground me for a week
But the kids in City Hall strut along, their beauties by their side
I see them and love them with tears of age falling from my eyes

Gener’s gone
Could be there be hope for redemption?
Maybe he’s locked up in detention
A detention of time

Fly Gener
Fly Gener fly

If everyone had a place
A place to go with other like-minded people
A simple place
Where Betty throws the ball to Jimmy
The new youth pushes limits of destiny and fate
I look to them with love and forgiveness
I forgive them

Gener’s gone
Let’s hold a candle up for Gener
He loved you all just like his children
It broke my heart to say goodbye

 

I’m a huge Ween fan, so this new material, along with all it implies—it’s hitting me hard. In my opinion, Ween richly deserve the descriptor “criminally underrated”—their jocular approach to songcraft and their ability to mimic pretty much any form of popular music has won them a devoted following of obsessives but has (IMO) also meant that the pointy-headed critics have tended to forget them in favor of depressing acts like Radiohead (you know it’s true). I deviate from most Ween fans in that I consider Ween’s last four or five albums to be possibly their strongest material. Most Ween fans favor The Pod or Chocolate and Cheese, both of which date from the early 1990s—I love the early stuff too, but I find myself constantly returning to their later work. Some of my very favorite Ween tracks include “Woman and Man,” “Light Me Up,” “Your Party,” and “Transitions,” all of which were released in 2005 or later. The epic “Woman and Man” in particular pretty much melts my brain every time I hear it.

On the Bandcamp page, there is a terse note that will tear to pieces the heart of any truly “brown” fan of the Boognish: “After 20+ years of near-fatal drug & alcohol abuse (thankfully culminating with intensive but successful rehab), AARON FREEMAN (aka Gene Ween) was left in a dire financial situation. All proceeds will go directly to Aaron, as he continues down the path toward creative freedom and personal health.”

For those who want Freeman to release more music in the future, the info section ends with these words: ” On that note, we have received a two word personal statement from Aaron: “stay tuned.”
 

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Push th’ Little Daisies: Alt rock weirdos Ween split after 25 years together
Dean Ween reveals the two guitar solos he’s been ripping off for years

Posted by Martin Schneider
|
11.15.2013
04:38 pm
|
Dean Ween reveals the two guitar solos he’s been ripping off for years
08.20.2013
10:42 am
Topics:
Tags:


 
Anyone who’s ever given Ween’s 1991 album The Pod a good listen is aware that Dean Ween (real name: Mickey Melchiondo) is willing to try pretty much anything on the guitar, a quality that has permitted him to craft some of the most inventive and startling guitar solos of the last twenty-five years. Ween is famous for moving all over the musical map in their songs, and Dean Ween’s evidently endless ability to transform is a good part of the reason why.

Earlier this year Dean Ween appeared on the Internet show Guitar Moves, hosted by Matt Sweeney, and rapped for a while about his influences and revealed a key penis-related trick to being a good guitarist.

Before getting to all the intricacies of major seventh chords and minor sevenths and “F-sharp thirteenths” (!)—this in the process of explaining how he came up with the bed for “Mister Would You Please Help My Pony,” off of 1993’s Chocolate and Cheese—Dean copped to returning to two classic 1970s songs for inspiration over and over again: the Allman Brothers’ “Blue Sky” (guitarist: Dickey Betts) from their 1972 album Eat a Peach and the title song off of Funkadelic’s 1971 album Maggot Brain (guitarist: Eddie Hazel).
 
Allman Brothers Band, “Blue Sky”:

 
Funkadelic, “Maggot Brain”:

 
Ween fans will remember that Dean and Gene Ween (real name: Aaron Freeman) paid tribute to Funkadelic on Chocolate and Cheese in the form of the album’s fifth song, “A Tear for Eddie”—the “Eddie” in question being Eddie Hazel. In the episode of Guitar Moves, Dean also relates the experience of sharing an elevator with Dickey Betts when he was twelve years old—“it was like being in an elevator with Sonny Barger or something, from the Hells Angels, except worse, he was like green and pockmarked….”

For the most part, Ween made its reputation off its first three or four albums and then settled into a comfortable cult status for the last decade or so of its existence (the duo broke up in 2012). As a band that ventured dangerously close to “novelty act,” Ween was cannily able to secure a modicum of creative independence despite delivering five albums to major label Elektra over eight years, but they never quite garnered their critical due as a major contemporary act that produced literally dozens of jaw-dropping ditties.

There’s also a vague feeling that the quality of Ween’s output may have dropped off somewhat after their 1997 genius concept album The Mollusk, but I for one don’t agree. There are loads of gems to be found on White Pepper, Quebec, Shinola Vol. 1, and La Cucaracha.
 
Guitar Moves, episode 6:

Posted by Martin Schneider
|
08.20.2013
10:42 am
|
Push th’ Little Daisies: Alt rock weirdos Ween split after 25 years together
05.30.2012
07:00 pm
Topics:
Tags:

image
 
After an onstage meltdown in Vancouver last year led to a spell in an Arizona rehab facility, Ween’s Aaron Freeman told Rolling Stone yesterday that the band is no more:

For most of his life he’s been Gene Ween, the nimble-voiced frontman of one of rock’s great genre-hoppers – but Aaron Freeman is finally ready to put his alter-ego to bed. “It’s time to move on,” Freeman told Rolling Stone from his home in New Jersey. “I’m retiring Gene Ween.”

So does that mean the end for Ween, the band that Freeman formed with high school friend Mickey Melchiondo (a.k.a. Dean Ween) in New Hope, Pennsylvania, in the mid-Eighties?

“Pretty much, yeah,” says Freeman. “It’s been a long time, 25 years. It was a good run.”

Freeman, who released his solo debut Marvelous Clouds earlier this month, says there’s no animosity towards his bandmates or Melchiondo, who he met in the eighth grade. He says the pair are still on speaking terms, even though he’s been contemplating the decision for the past eight years.

“For me it’s a closed book. In life sometimes, in the universe, you have to close some doors to have others open,” says Freeman. “There’s no, ‘Goddamn that such and such!’ For me, I’d like to think it’s a door I can close finally.”

Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) left the following message on his Facebook wall:

“This is news to me, all I can say for now I guess.”

My two favorite Ween songs, from their “difficult” album, The Pod.

“Dr. Rock”:
 

 
“Captain Fantasy”:
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
|
05.30.2012
07:00 pm
|