Mean Ween

Ween

[ween]

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 and Dean Ween. The name Ween was a cross between the words "wuss" and "peen". Ween collected a large underground fanbase despite being generally unknown in pop music.

Early years

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 6 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 eschewed 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, IN, on drums.

Major releases

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 send marijuana directly to the brain by use of nitrous oxide, which was said to leave the user intoxicated for days, but nauseated. The cover of The Pod used 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 & 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. There are two theories regarding the title of the album. The first is that it refers to the dozen veteran Nashville studio musicians who played on the album. The second is that the band did indeed record twelve songs during the demo sessions for the album, but upon the removal of the tracks "I Got No Darkside" and "So Long, Jerry" (the latter of which was a B-side on the "Piss Up a Rope" single) they decided not to rename it.

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 3rd 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 3 years. In 2004, they released Live in Chicago, a DVD and CD set that compiled tracks from three 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.

On 21 September 2008 Dean Ween anounced 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."

Miscellaneous works

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 heavy metal 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 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 School House 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.

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.

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".

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

In 2003, "Ocean Man" from The Mollusk reappeared on television when Honda used the song in an advertisement for its 2004 Civic Coupe. In 2004, the song appeared during the ending credits of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. "Ocean Man" was also featured on the 2008 Skateboarding film, "Baker Has a Deathwish".

In 2005, "Oh My Dear (Falling in Love)", from The Pod, appeared in the film The Motel as the title song. It also became the DVD Menu song for the film once it was released on DVD.

In 2007, "It's Gonna Be A Long Night" from quebec was featured as the theme song for the launch of internet TV channel RawVegas.tv. "It's Gonna Be A Long Night" was also featured in season 3, episode 14 of the FX television show The Shield. This song also appeared in the soundtrack of Tony Hawks Underground 2. Also from the Quebec album, "Captain" was used in the season 2, episode 2 of Dexter. However, Ween's track was replaced on the DVD version of the Dexter episode by an imitation piece, and not "Captain" itself.

In 2007 "You Fucked Up" from "GodWeenSatan: The Oneness" was featured as the last song in the first episode of the third season of Weeds (TV series)

In 2007, on the show "Bionic Woman" the character Nathan was shown using a laptop with numerous Ween "Boognish" stickers on it.

Members

Current members

Past members

Organization

  • Management – Greg Frey Management
  • Booking – High Road Touring
  • Legal – George Regis
  • Business Manager – RZO, LLC

Instruments

Discography

Early independent releases (1986–1989)

Year Title
198X Mrs. Slack
1986 The Crucial Squeegie Lip
1987 Axis: Bold As Boognish
1987 Erica Peterson's Flaming Crib Death
1988 The Live Brain Wedgie/WAD
1989 Prime 5

Studio albums (1990–present)

Year Title Label
1990 GodWeenSatan: The Oneness Twin/Tone, reissued 2001 Restless
1991 The Pod Shimmy Disc, reissued 1995 Elektra
1992 Pure Guava Elektra
1994 Chocolate & Cheese Elektra
1996 12 Golden Country Greats Elektra
1997 The Mollusk Elektra
1999 Craters of the Sac online only MP3 release
2000 White Pepper Elektra
2003 Quebec Sanctuary
2005 Shinola, Vol. 1 Chocodog
2007 La Cucaracha Rounder Records

Live albums

Year Title Label
1999 Paintin' the Town Brown: Ween Live 1990-1998 Elektra
2001 Live In Toronto Canada Chocodog
2002 Live at Stubb's 7/2000 Chocodog
2003 All Request Live Chocodog
2004 Live in Chicago Sanctuary

EPs and singles

Year Title Label
1992 I'm Fat Vital Music
1992 Push th' Little Daisies Elektra Records
1992 Sky Cruiser Sub Pop
1992 Sky Cruiser EP White Records
1993 Push th' Little Daisies Elektra 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
1996 Piss Up A Rope Diesel Only Records
1997 Mutilated Lips Elektra Records
1997 Ocean Man Elektra Records
2000 Even If You Don't Mushroom Records
2000 Stay Forever Promo EP Mushroom Records
2000 Stay Forever Red Vinyl EP Mushroom Records
2005 "Monique The Freak" limited edition one sided etched 12" Chocodog/Schnitzel Records
2005 "Gabrielle" limited edition one sided brown 7" Chocodog/Schnitzel Records
2007 The Friends EP CD and limited edition picture disc 12" Chocodog/Schnitzel Records

Appearances

Year Title Label
1993 En Esch - Cheesy TVT Records
1994 Frente - Lonley Mushroom Records
1995 Kostars - Klassics With a K Grand Royal
1995 Used & Recorded by 3RRR Vol.2 Radio Release
1996 Ben Vaughn - Instrumental Stylings Bar None Records
1996 Yoko Ono-Rising Mixes Capitol Records
1996 Schoolhouse Rock! Rocks Atlantic Records
1998 Hub - Hub SLASH RECORDS
1998 Chef Aid: The South Park Album Columbia
1999 Ben - Wool Ben Chatrer

References

External links

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