Ween is an alternative rock group formed in 1984 in New Hope, Pennsylvania when Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo met in an eighth grade typing class. The pair became known respectively as Gene Ween and Dean Ween. Ween has a large underground fanbase despite being generally unknown in American pop music.
Their earliest home recordings were anarchic and free-spirited, drawing on influences as far-reaching as Syd Barrett, The Beatles, Queen, Prince, Butthole Surfers, The Residents, 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 was 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; the piece featured a solo, stand-up, acoustic bass and Lauren "Rainbow" Fihe, from Elwood, Indiana, on drums.
Ween was signed to Twin/Tone Records in 1989 and released their first album GodWeenSatan: The Oneness in the following year, a 26-track smorgasbord of wild eclecticism. The band's second album, 1991's The Pod, became a fast fan favorite, as the duo's use of drum machines, pitch-tweaked guitars and vocals and drug-laced humor became a trademark part of their sound. The Pod, according to Ween-lore, was written under the influence of Scotchgard, but this was later refuted by Gene and Dean themselves as being "the most slime-bag thing we could think of." The contraption on the album cover is not a Scotchgard inhalation device, but a bong-like device used to propel marijuana by use of nitrous oxide, which was said to leave the user intoxicated for days. The cover of The Pod was influenced by the cover of the 1975 Leonard Cohen album, The Best of Leonard Cohen, but with the head of Mean Ween (sometime bassist Chris Williams) wearing the mask, pasted onto that of Cohen.
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, heralding 70s pop/rock and soul influenced tracks such as "Freedom of '76" and "Voodoo Lady," which appeared on the Road Trip soundtrack. 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).
Ween turned to Nashville studio musicians for the recording of the authentically-spirited 12 Golden Country Greats (1996) which only contained ten tracks. According to Aaron, "That's why it's called 12 Golden Country Greats, even though there's only 10 songs on there. The 'greats' are those Nashville session guys."
The nautically-themed masterpieceThe Mollusk followed in 1997, demonstrating Ween's satirization, deconstruction, and appreciative mastery of genres, including 1960's Brit-pop, sea shanties, Broadway show tunes, and especially progressive rock. Fans, critics and the band themselves have since considered the album to be their definite opus. 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 entitled Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live 1990-1998 in 1999, 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 White Pepper Ween started the Internet radiostation WeenRadio, which was awarded third best Internet music site by Rolling Stone.
Ween also formed their own label at this time, Chocodog Records, which oversaw the release of several self-produced live sets. The aforementioned 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 the first installment of a rarity compilation series entitled Shinola, and announced plans to re-release the 1987 cassette tape by Gene, Synthetic Socks.
The two 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 , 2007 on Rounder Records.
On September 21, 2008, Dean Ween announced on the official Ween website that they plan to release a CD-DVD combo for this Christmas. He states "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 is titled "At the Cat's Cradle" and was recorded live at the Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, North Carolina on December 9, 1992. This showcases a typical early performance by the duo, with just a Digital Audio Tape (DAT) player as backing tracks. The package also includes 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 have started to rehearse once again. Most likely (although not confirmed) for a new album in 2009, as Dean mentioned that we will see a "new look" Ween soon.
Miscellaneous works and pop culture references
Ween has participated in various outside collaborations over the years. The band joined members of Japanese group Boredoms to form noise rock group Z-Rock Hawaii, and Dean is also a member of hardcore band Moistboyz. Ween's songs are used in several film soundtracks, including The X-Files; Beautiful Girls; Dude, Where's My Car?; Road Trip and Herr Lehmann, and on television they have contributed to MTV's mid-1990s show The State ("Voodoo Lady"), SpongeBob SquarePants ("Ocean Man" and a song about tying shoes "Loop de Loop") and Grounded for Life (the theme song and background music). The team recorded "The Shot Heard 'Round the World" for a 1996 tribute album of classic Schoolhouse Rock! ditties with the likes of Better Than Ezra, Blind Melon, and Moby. Ween had been asked to write a theme song for Greg the Bunny which was rejected.
"Piss up a Rope" can be heard playing in the garage near the start of the movie "U-Turn". It can also be heard in the background in a scene in the cafe from a May 2008 episode of English soap Eastenders.
Ween's music has been used for several snowboard video parts, including the notable use of "Johnny on the Spot" during snowboarding legend Peter Line's part in the 2000 Mack Dawg film, "The Resistance".
The band has made several on-screen appearances, including performing on Letterman, on MTV's Oddville, in puppet form on Crank Yankers, as part of "Chef Aid" in South Park, and on film as themselves in It's Pat.
Dean made significant contributions to two projects by his friend Josh Homme: The Desert Sessions and Queens of the Stone Age. On the critically successful 2002 Homme album Songs for the Deaf, Dean played guitar on "Mosquito Song", "Gonna Leave You", and "Six Shooter".
In 2002, the advertising agency for Pizza Hut approached the duo to record a promotional jingle, which resulted in a 30-second recording of "Where'd the Cheese Go?". It epitomized Ween-style irreverence but did not appeal to the agency, and Pizza Hut rejected several versions of the song outright. True to form (and somewhat indignant), Ween re-recorded the same song with new lyrics as "Where'd the Motherfuckin' Cheese Go At?". Both versions are available here.
On Australia Day, 2009, 'Your Party' was named as No. 55 in Triple J's Hottest 100 of 2008. This was the band's fourth Hottest 100 appearance, previously charting in 1993 at No. 40 with 'Push Th' Little Daisies', twice in 1997 with 'Mutilated Lips' at No. 36 and 'Waving My Dick In the Wind' at No. 97, and 'Gabrielle' at No. 66 in 2005.
Dean Ween, pseudonym for Mickey Melchiondo ? lead guitar, vocals, etc.
Gene Ween, pseudonym for Aaron Freeman ? lead vocal, guitar, etc.
Dave Dreiwitz ? bass
Claude Coleman, Jr. ? drums
Glenn McClelland ? keyboards
Andrew Weiss ? producer, bass, etc.
Jason Fuller ? keyboards in touring band 2001
Mean Ween (Chris Williams) ? 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 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
Management ? Greg Frey Management
Booking ? High Road Touring
Legal ? George Regis
Business Manager ? RZO, LLC
Dean Ween ? Fender Stratocaster, Fender Musicmaster
Gene Ween ? Gibson Les Paul, Martin D28
Dave Dreiwitz ? Rickenbacker Bass, Fender Precision
Claude Coleman, Jr. ? drum Workshop kit, Bosphorus Cymbals