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Ween Biography

Last updated: 06/15/2010 11:00:00 AM

Ween-photo
1984 - Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo meet in 8th grade typing class at New Hope-Solebury High School in Pennsylvania. Both are making home recordings at the time and begin swapping records from their collections. The boys are visited by the demon-god BOOGNISH, prompting them to form WEEN and assume the alter egos Dean and Gene Ween.

1985 -Ween skips all developmental stages of being a rock band and are hopelessly addicted to drugs by age 15. First of two cassettes and an EP released on Bird O' Pray (intentional misspelling, fact-checkers) Records, Trenton, NJ label run by friends of Ween, Jeff Rusnak and Andrew Weiss, who goes on to produce much of the band's future output.

1986 - Ween plays first ever club show at Trenton's City Gardens, opening for the Butthole Surfers. Live "outfit" comprised of Dean and Gene on guitar and vocals respectively, and a cassette deck with the drums and bass on tape.

1987- Dean and Gene are forced to attend summer school together after failing a number of classes, most notably Biology. Summer school teacher spends months discussing quantum physics with the boys, which contributes to no visible improvement in the songwriting. Ween wins high school talent show with their rendition of "Foxy Lady".

1989 - Ween plays at a party in Maplewood, NJ, opening for friends Skunk, who are being scouted at the time by Twin-Tone Records of Minneapolis. Both bands are soon signed to Twin-Tone and Ween starts work on debut album God Ween Satan: The Oneness. Dean and Gene are living together in New Hope on a horse farm, working at a gas station and a local Mexican restaurant. Ween is booed off stage opening for Fugazi by a capacity crowd at City Gardens, establishing a pattern that will continue for the next couple of years.

1990 - God Ween Satan: The Oneness is released. Arguably the band's masterwork. The 26-song double record is produced by Andrew Weiss (who is by then the bass player in the Rollins Band) in his living room. Ween tours Europe heavily in support of the record, but never manages to do any American touring as Twin-Tone Records slowly goes out of business. Downtime is consumed by recording sessions at Chez Ween.

1991 - Ween comes into contact with Shimmy-Disc label boss Kramer, giving him some tapes of the 4-track home recorded material. Both parties agree to release the material as is. The tapes become Ween's second album, and quite possibly the unit's magnum opus, The Pod.

1992 - Planning to release another album's worth of 4-track tapes on an independent label, Ween is approached by Steve Ralbovsky, then of Elektra Records, who agrees to release that record, once again, "as is."

1993 - Pure Guava is released on Elektra in 1993. Though essentially a continuation of The Pod, it is lauded by many as the combo's defining moment. Ween tours as a duo for the remainder of the year, playing in America, Canada, Europe, and Australia (where "Push th' Little Daisies," the first ever Ween "single", actually cracks the top ten).

1994 - Much of the year is spent making the fourth Ween album, for which Gene and Dean switch to a full band format onstage, and also bid fond adieu to the 4 track. Chocolate and Cheese, recorded and produced by Andrew Weiss (who leaves the Rollins Band and joins Ween as full-time bass player) in a rented industrial space in Pennington, NJ, is released in the fall of 1994. It is hailed as an instant classic, perhaps the apex of the Ween ouevre.

(Also recorded during the C&C sessions is the Z-Rock Hawaii album, a collaboration between Ween and Japan's Boredoms.)

Chocolate and Cheese is supported by a year-long world tour and no less than three singles, "I Can't Put my Finger On It", "Voodoo Lady", and "Freedom Of '76." A video for "Freedom" is directed by Spike Jonze, and is played on MTV, by the band's account, "like once."

1995 - Following a lengthy break, work begins on material for the next Ween album. After a few months of writing, the band realizes that they've compiled a good number of tunes with a country and western flavor. They begin to investigate the possibility of making a record in Nashville, using session musicians from the golden age of country. With the help of friend Ben Vaughn (who had produced records in Nashville before), Ween compiles a list of potential players for the record. The core band is assembled by Charlie McCoy, most famous for his work on Bob Dylan's Nashville period albums, Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline. With the help of Ben and Charlie, Ween rounds up 12 of the best living players in Nashville, four of whom are named "Buddy", and book an eight-day session in November 1995.

1996 - While Ween originally has no intention of releasing the sessions (work continues on a "real" Ween album all the while), it is decided that they are too good to shelve. Hence: The fifth Ween album, 12 Golden Country Greats, released in 1996 and unequivocally perceived as the ensemble's foremost contribution to the C&W canon.

Despite having no plans to tour in support of the record (most of the players have long since forsaken the road), Ween are able to organize a scaled down version of the Nashville band for two shows at Tramps in New York. The band is led by Bobby Ogdin, one of the album's piano players as well as an alumnus of Elvis Presley's 1970s band. Spurred by the success of these shows, everyone in the band commits to a one-month U.S. tour in the fall of 1996.

1996-1997 - Having long discussed the possibility of making music at the virtually deserted beach during the winter months, Ween rents a house on the ocean at Long Beach Island, NJ. As no material is written prior to moving into the beach house, the environment plays a major role in the songwriting process, manifesting itself in a very heavy nautical theme. Days are spent fishing, recording and drinking heavily. Three or four months into this process, the house's pipes freeze and burst, flooding and ruining the beach house studio. While damage to the tapes and equipment is minor, Ween are forced to evacuate the premises and finish the album at home with Andrew Weiss producing and mixing.

1997 - The Mollusk, universally recognized as the sixth Ween album.

1997-1999 - The release of The Mollusk is followed by the heaviest amount of touring yet. By this point, the Ween live experience has expanded to a five-piece band playing three to four hours per night. Ween's longstanding open taping policy gives rise to an ever-increasing number of shows being traded by fans over the Internet. The band decides to compile a live retrospective double CD to be sold exclusively through their website (www.chocodog.com/ween) but is approached by Elektra, who ultimately releases Paintin' The Town Brown--Ween Live '90-'98 in the summer of 1999.

1999 - Material for the seventh proper Ween album takes place in a rented cottage in Maine, as well as at the once-flooded, now refurbished Mollusk beach house. Recording commences in September at Bearsville Studios in Woodstock, NY. Chris Shaw is chosen to record the material, primarily due to his involvement on Ween's two favorite Public Enemy records. ("You can really feel the 'black rage' that Chris brings to the project," comments the band.)

A few distinct factors distinguish the resultant White Pepper from the rest of the Ween catalog. Firstly, the entire record is recorded in a "band" format, more parallel to the Ween live experience. Also, there is a notable lack of the word "----" anywhere on the record. No one can explain how the ---- this happened. Additionally, the mind enhancing drugs in the Ween diet are replaced with alcohol and pharmaceuticals, giving the band new insight into the psyche of working class America. The record also features strings, horns, and female backup singers... "three very bad signs for the future of Ween," says the band.


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