Anyone who’s heard of Ween will nod knowingly about the indie-rock duo’s body of work that some might call “insane.” But in a good way! The duo – featuring Aaron Freeman and Mickey Melchiondo as Gene and Dean Ween – took stoner rock to another level with deliriously absurd tracks such as “Push th’ Little Daisies” and “Don’t Get 2 Close (2 My Fantasy).”
Alas, Ween is no more, but you can enjoy one half of the duo Thursday night at Blackbird Ordinary as Aaron Freeman performs in support of his latest project, taking on the poems of Rod McKuen. He talked to Miami.com about the concert, why McKuen moves him, and who influenced him musically as a child.
What can we expect from the show?
One Martin acoustic, one Taylor and lots of beautiful harmonies. There is a mix of Rod McKuen and my own stuff, stripped down and very intimate.
What inspired you to take on the works of Rod McKuen?
The project was put forth to me by producer Ben Vaughn. A couple years back, Ween was playing in L.A., and I was on the lookout for something interesting to do artistically. Ben came by that evening, and we talked about Rod, I listened to Rod, and I loved Rod. His music and words resounded with me, and it was a pleasure to immerse myself in the man’s work. I got the chance to meet him and he asked me to sign his copy of “Marvelous Clouds.” My work was done!
Why did you "retire" Gene Ween, and how's your relationship with Mickey today?
I'll always be Gene Ween, and I'm incredibly proud of what Ween has done. I retired a time period of my life, for my own personal reasons. It wasn’t a romantic, self-aggrandizing move, but instead a decision I believe anyone would make in my particular instance, as it literally saved my life. Mickey and I will always have a relationship, and we’re both taking steps to make sure it is positive and respectful. We both deserve that.
Looking past your work with Rod McKuen's poetry - what else would you like to take on musically?
I'm currently doing some shows with Paul Green's “Jesus Christ Superstar” production. I play Judas. Really, nothing has changed with me musically - I try and write great songs. How the songs are processed and released depends on what is called for. Fifty thousand didgeridoo's? No problem.
I know some critics view Ween as both sarcastic and ironic, but the musical talent has always been obvious. What's your musical upbringing (and Mickey's, if you don't mind) before Ween?
For me, it was a father who made me listen to a lot of Mothers of Invention at age 7. Also, Donovan, Fairport Convention, Cream, etc. My mother listened to Teddy Pendergrass and Earth Wind and Fire. It was all over the place. At one point I started listening to The Beatles, and that was where things got serious. Let's see, my first concert was Kiss at age 7, and I got punched in the face at a Black Flag show when I was 11. That was awesome. I'm all over the place. If the music is good, I listen, and I must say I have a pretty good gauge. I try and make honest music. If it's funny or weird or straight up, it is ALWAYS honest.
How did you and Mickey meet, and what were your musical goals at the start?
We met in the 7th grade. We both loved music and wanted to make our own. I'm pretty sure we just wanted to hear ourselves played back on tape. Still do - it's cool.
Have you ever been to Miami, and what do you think of the city?
I love Miami. Been there lots of times. I like to listen to the Randy Newman song called “Miami”: "Put on your shorty shorts, your white shirt and come on down!"