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.
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, which has garnered them a large underground cult following. 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”.
Ween signed to Twin/Tone Records in 1989 and released their first album GodWeenSatan: The Oneness. Produced by Andrew Weiss, it was made up of an eclectic 26 tracks. 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.
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. 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.
Ween turned to Nashville studio musicians for the recording of 12 Golden Country Greats (1996) which only contained ten tracks. The nautically themed album The Mollusk followed in 1997. Some fans and critics consider the album to be a culmination of Ween’s penchant for satire, deconstruction, and their appreciative mastery of genres, 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, after writing over 50 songs, Ween 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 May 29, 2012, Freeman announced the end of Ween, saying, “It’s been a long time, 25 years. It was a good run.”