So tell me all about Ween

I’m just now getting into them. They’ve been around what, 15 years or so?

I bought their album Quebec, and came into possession of a few other tracks they’ve done. Wow. These guys range the gamut and then some. In addition to Quebec, I’ve also got a country version of Snoop Dog’s Jin and Juice, stuff that sounds exactly like the Eels, early ELP, Jamaican raggae, the Residents, and so on and so on and so on.

I’m amazed at their versatility, but wonder if they’re doing this as a joke, or do they really have an appreciation for all styles of music and do this as an homage?

They’re pretty eclectic, that’s for sure.

I would like to meet the model for the cover of Chocolate and Cheese. I’d buy that one just for the cover.

Unfortunately, that cover of “Gin and Juice” is by the Gourds. It is often mislabeled when it makes the rounds on file-sharing services, usually attributed to Ween or Phish. But the Gourds did that one, and I think Ween even commented that they don’t care for the song, and don’t like being associated with it.

But Ween is good, and they’re very talented to be able to run the gamut between so many diverse musical styles. Check out their album White Pepper for more genre-hopping and wackiness: everything from psychedelia to metal to a Jimmy Buffett homage (“Bananas and Blow”). And if you can, download their hilarious Pizza Hut commercial jingles off their website, which I believe is

They’ve been at it a long time, so even though they’re often tongue in cheek, I gather that they’re also serious about their music. My personal favorite is The Pod, but I’ve liked pretty much each of the five or so albums of their’s that I have. Talented guys.

I did!!

Okay, not entirely true, since I saw that it was on Grand Royal Records, I gave it a shot, but the cover definitely was part of the motivation.

The album is bizarre and freaking brilliant. Some of the songs are astonishingly (sp?) well done, even if they are put over weird or goofy lyrics. I mean, you’re listening to some stupid, pointless song and then in the middle it breaks into a perfectly brilliant acoustic section that floats on the air in a sweet melody that you can only ever hope for. I’d like to hear an album with none of the goofy stuff and just sweet music, because when they do it right, they do it incredibly well.

I’ve never heard anything else from them.

I can tell you that Ween has a song, Push the Little Daisies, that is on Hell’s Jukebox.

Hmmm…no wonder I couldn’t find it in their discography. Maybe that one that sounds like the Eels really is the Eels. I think the title is Goddamn Right it’s a Beautful Day?

Ween is that rarity: a joke/parody band whose music is still worth listening to after the joke’s gotten old.

You are correct. It’s an Eels song called “Mr. E’s Beautiful Blues.”

Ween started as a really brilliant, perma-stoned lo-fi bedroom group, along the lines of the Butthole Surfers or early Flaming Lips - little more than weird dicking around into a 4-track recorder. They managed to make a few AMAZING and brilliant albums - especially The Pod (easily their best) and Pure Guava, which approaches Zappa-esque weirdo brilliance. It’s this era that “push th’ little daisies,” “pork roll, egg, and cheese” (as seen in SNL’s “It’s Pat: the Movie”) and “Reggaejunkiejew” came from. This era is characterized by lower-than-lo-fi recording tactics, weird chipunked or darth vadered vocals, cheesy guitar effects and drum machine, and so on. But don’t discount it - there are some KILLER pop songs hidden under all the weirdness. I also need to point out that Beck owes the entire first half of his career to these two albums, and I imagine he’d be the first person to tell you that if he had any integrity.

Chocolate and Cheese found them going to a bigger label and upping the production value. They moved away from the bedroom stoner weirdness in favor of a more traditional parody mode - doing novelty Doors-esque classic rock ("take me away’), “joke funk” (“Voodoo Lady”), weirdo soul (“Freedom of '76”), Bizarre Western (“Adios, Amigo”), and the best Grateful Dead song that Jerry and Co. never recorded (“Roses are Free”). I think it’s probably their best “new era” album .

After this, they did one of their best records, and the album hat really bridges “old Ween” and “new Ween” - “Twelve Golden Country Greats.” They wrote a bunch of kooky country songs and united with a bunch of seasoned C&W session musicians to record the record, and man, it WORKS. You end up with some hilarious country pastiches (“japanese cowboy,” “piss up a rope,”), a killer homophobic western swing track (“mr. richard smoker”), and some surprisingly straight and authentic songs (“powder blue,” “I don’t wanna leave you on the farm,” “I’m holding you”). GREAT album.

The problem with Ween is that from here on out, they just degenerated into a sort of sub-Weird Al novelty band - albums like “the mollusk,” “white pepper,” and especially “Quebec” just seem SO uninspired to me - like a band that wants to finally go (semi-) respectable and just have us forget that they were doing pee pee and poo poo songs just a few years before. The songs aren’t funny enough for them to work as straight parodies (the incredibly hilarious and killer Jimmy Buffet-raping “Bananas and Blow” from White Pepper being the exception), but they’re also too kooky and wink-wink nudge-nudge to be taken as straight pop songs. They’ve kind of fallen into that bland middle ground.

I play dixieland jazz with Dave Dreiwitz’ mom and dad. Lovely people.

The Mollusk is by far my favorite album of theirs. I love the psychedelic sound they cultivated for that one. I also love Chocolate and Cheese and Quebec. Twelve Golden Country greats is also good. Oh, hell I’ll just come out and say that I love them, and I go to see them every chance I get. Some of their greatest live performances are the covers that they do. I also love the Schoolhouse Rock cover they did, the one about Paul Revere and the American Revolution.
They’re totally brown.

I’m not sure which one you mean by a sudden acoustic solo in Chocolate and Cheese, but IMO their most sublime musical moment was the sudden electric(sounding?) solo in Buenas Tardes Amigo. Like much of their other stuff it’s so great because it’s a perfect send-up of a genre in general without being derivative of one specific piece.

But my favorite song by them has to be Freedom of '76. I don’t think the singing worked out all that great, but the concept and lyrics are very well-done.