From the pages of Cygnals Zine, Issue #9, Spring 1997
"It's all about the high sh*t." The first words out of Gene Ween's mouth upon answering the telephone.
I can only assume he was talking to sidekick Dean Ween (Mickey Melchiondo), sharing a downtown Detroit hotel room after spending the night on the tour bus. Gene, known as Aaron Freeman to the police and anyone who needs his real name, is groggy, but fresh from a good healthy shit.
Based on previous interviews with Gener I'd read in other zines, I figured I might be in for a tough time. But little did I know that Gene Ween would be a more challenging interview than any politician or scientist I've ever talked to.
I introduce myself. "Did you just talk to this guy?" asks Gene to Dean. "Yeah, you were in the toilet," he answers. Woo-woo. Gene/Aaron puts down the phone, grabs a cigarette and comes back for the interview.
Warner was kind enough to send me a copy of Ween's current release, 12 Golden Country Greats, an enjoyable mix of Ween wackiness with country hurtin'. A country record from drug-punk-funk-alterna-whatever boys Ween? What must the record company have thought? "They didn't really know until it was finished, until we handed it in." Once finished, they were good about promoting it, I'm told, but I still haven't seen a video from it.
Ween's drug use is legendary, but Gene says that's over. "Not after the big bust in '92, there's no big drug lifestyle anymore. I can't talk about it. Pretty ugly." Yeah. Right.
I made the mistake of bringing up one of my other favorite bands, They Might Be Giants. I'd read Ween doesn't like them. "No, not really. Can't say as I do. A little too smart college boy for me. I was never into smart college boy music."
Aside from an anticipated tour with Marilyn Manson (is he kidding?) And last year's tour with Foo Fighters, Gene poo-poos opening for anyone. "It's something that we've never really done, and it's something that we're not going to start doing. I think we're a little different than that, our whole trip. Forty minutes in front of Beck isn't really where it's at. There's nobody out there that I like enough to do that with. Ninety-nine per cent of opening bands stink. Cuz of these stupid fucking club people who try to find a They Might Be Giants type band. So not only aren't they like They Might Be Giants, they're worse than They Might Be Giants. Which is hard to imagine."
Stupidly, I mention I saw TMBG opening for Hootie (ack!) And the Blowfish at Skydome a week earlier. "That sounds like a nightmare. Goddamn. Why am I even talking to you?" I lose his attention even more. "I got athlete's foot, I think...uhh, yeah?"
Pushing my luck after talking to Ween about Frente, I ask if he's heard of Cub. "Cup?" Cub. "I think 99% of that cute girl shit sucks. Alternative girl-rock. Very popular right now and they all sound the same."
After nearly twenty minutes of trying to pull more than "yeah" or "it's cool" answers from Gene, I wrap up the interview.
Follow up 2008:
- The October 23, 1996 show that I interviewed Ween for was later released as Ween's first live album, and a must-have for Ween fans. The release of "Ween: Live in Toronto" marked the launch of Chocodog Records.