Ween gets away with murder. It is one of the few bands that writes, records, and releases exactly what it wants. The group's songs can be daring, funny, offensive, and tender. Composed of Mickey Melchiondo (aka Dean Ween) and Aaron Freeman (aka Gene Ween), Ween has released nine full-length records so far. Mr.Melchiondo was kind enough to share his thoughts on recording when he should have been shoveling snow.
Okay, the first thing I have to know is what the hell is the end solo in "Voodoo Lady"?
If I remember correctly, [producer] Andrew Weiss did a lot of that. I think it's a [Yamaha] SPX90 or an old rack mount Effectron-type delay that has knobs you can turn and hold buttons. So you can go, "WAHH UNH EEH AHH!" and scroll through the programs while turning the knobs. A lot of the stuff we do, especially when we do things with Andrew, has tons and tons of tracks. And then when it comes time to mix, you just sort through it. It's sort of the P-Funk way, except white. [laughs] It's actually a huge part of our listening. Up against The Beatles, Parliament Funkadelic has been my favorite band since I was a teenager. I started buying the Funkadelic records when they were still a quarter. Andrew turned me onto them.
So you've known him for a long time?
Yeah. We've known Andrew and been working with him since around '85.
I was curious about what his role is exactly. Calling someone a producer can mean a myriad of things. How early does he get involved in the production?
We didn't work with Andrew on this last record actually.
Yeah. But in the past, except the country record, he's had a huge, huge, huge role in all the records. And it's been different every time. For the first album, we went to his house, sat in his living room and made GodWeenSatan for about a year. We did tons and tons of songs starting with the first track. While we were doing that, we were also working at home. Aaron and I lived together then, and we were doing things on the 4-track. But the stuff at home was more who we were, because we did it every single day. So when it came time to do the second record, we decided to use the 4-track stuff rather than re-record everything at Andrew's. So we did the next two albums that way, except Andrew mixed all that stuff and made it sound a hell of a lot better. In my opinion, Pure Guava is one of the best-sounding records done on a 4-track-because of Andrew mostly.
So that's a cassette 4-track record?
That album and The Pod were done on a Tascam Porta-3, or Porta-4. It had these dial faders on it instead of knobs.
What were you using for mics?
Just a Realistic Highball. We used this one sucky mic that we got at Radio Shack on all that stuff. And it wasn't because we were trying to have a lo-fi aesthetic about it. Later on, everybody was, "Oooh lo-fi." But, to us, we always thought it was dog shit. It was just the mic that we had. We didn't even have a [Shure] Beta 57 or any other standard mic.
It's interesting — over the years Radio Shack has had some gems.
All my shit is Radio Shack at home, not my receivers. But my speakers have always been Radio Shack. I used to have this little mixing console that we used to do every thing on. It was for DJs. I would DJ school dances and parties with that. But in the early days, before we even had the 4-track, we would use that with two tape decks and bounce back and forth. We also have one of those cheese-dick reverbs that they made back then. It's a Realistic reverb unit with only one setting. And we got a Realistic "Moog". Have you ever seen one of those?
No! When did they come out?
I guess in the '70s. The Mollusk CD is done with that thing — a lot of the synths on it anyway. It was licensed by Moog to Realistic. It's really small.
Cool. I was wondering what you guys used for a synth. So going back to GodWeenSatan, you said you were working simultaneously at home and at Andrew's.
Were you re-recording things at Andrew's that you had come up with at home?
We brought in all of our 4-track tapes and re- recorded everything for GodWeenSatan in...