DEAN WEEN: KEEPING ROCK DIRTY & MOIST
"I think that my inspiration with Moistboyz is other shitty rock and
roll. As corny as it sounds, rock and roll is as close to a religion as I
have. And I will kill someone - I will punch someone in the face, it's
important to me - it's important that people understand and agree with me.
It's important that people get off on Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd or whatever
it is I really like. And it bothers me to see people getting off on whatever
the nu-metal thing of the day is, or fake music that isn't made with any
feeling - that's passionless and weak. It's rock and roll. It's a mortal sin
to pose, and it's a mortal sin to make pussy music. That's my inspiration
for the Moistboyz."
Moistboyz is Dean Ween's (aka Mickey Melchiondo) other band, the one he so eloquently broke down for us above. One should be hesitant to call Moistboyz a side-project, as Mickey tells us, "It's kinda funny because I think people look at it like a side-project, but it's not. We have four albums out, and we have five times as many songs that we haven't released. I mean between all the records, I think there's forty tunes, and I'd bet there's one-hundred-and-fifty more. So it's not really a side-project; we know exactly what it is that we need to do when we get together. It's very focused and there is a heavy, heavy work ethic to it." While the Moistboyz output has been prolific, and the content potent, when your other band is of cult legend status like that of Ween, whatever else you do will unquestionably be overshadowed.
KEEPING IT MOIST
With Ween, Mickey has built one of the most independent, free-reigning, freakish bands of the day. They seem to do whatever they want whenever they want, regardless of record labels, clubs, publicists, managers, or really anyone else's desires or concerns. They are completely self-indulgent and in it for themselves. Yet somehow they are able to get away with it. So why even bother with starting another band when your band does whatever the hell you want anyway? "I've never felt that Ween has restricted me from doing anything musically," Mickey tells us. "It's a different partnership – Ween is very much a partnership – Aaron [Freeman aka Gene Ween] and I split the duties pretty equally, and in Moistboyz it's exactly 50/50 - I write all the music and Guy does all the words." As Mickey thinks back to when he first started Moistboyz with Guy Heller back in 1992, he elaborates, "I know Guy going as far back as my last couple years of high school. So he's local — he's one of my friends. We spend a lot of time hanging out, and he's been on a bunch of Ween records. We were making music together on the four-track, just he and I, and it was taking shape. It was taking a very defined direction, and it was really getting us off – both of us – so we gave it a name: Moistboyz.
With their fourth album, aptly titled IV (Sanctuary 2005), Guy and Mickey have more or less continued to do what the Moistboyz have been doing for thirteen years, make punk-heavy, angry as hell, sleazy-ass rock. There's nothing complicated about it, and in some ways like Ween, it's an acquired taste. But where Ween twists and turns into almost every genre of music, Moistboyz just slam you in the head track after track. Guy screams and yells, and Mickey sloshes on his guitar. It's the kind of music you hear in dark bars late at night where everyone is tattooed, pierced, and pissed. Mickey has no trouble finding the words and tapping into the core of where Moistboyz are coming from: "We want it to terrify people. When you hear it, it should sound like a fucking jet is landing on your house. We want it to sound huge and scary, which is how rock and roll should sound. It should scare the fucking shit out of people, and their parents should hate it. But we also keep it cheap. There's nothing subtle, there's nothing hidden. We're not trying to make art; we're trying to make rock and roll."
For those still trying to attach the sound of Ween to that of the Moistboyz, the stretch may be a bit far. Mickey makes it clear, "I'm not gonna compare it [Moistboyz] to the Ween stuff because they are just two very different children. I think that the first Moistboyz, along with The Mollusk by Ween, are two of the best records I have ever been involved with, ever." Mickey continues to dissect the stark differences, "It's [Moistboyz] way more structured. I wouldn't say it's worlds-apart different, but it is different. Ween is very, very, very experimental. For the most part, we're always trying things. And with Moistboyz, we really develop the songs in a piece-by-piece kind of way." This structure versus the freedom of experimenting is perhaps the most accurate way to explain the vast differences between the two bands. While there may be moments of a Ween show, or album, that sound like the Moistboyz, Ween's music refuses to stand still from album to album, song to song, set to set. Part of what makes Ween - Ween is the ability to play a song like "The HIV Song," next to "Stay Forever," next to "Bananas and Blow." Moistboyz show none of this dexterity and no such ADD, maybe that's the point. Moistboyz are straight-ahead in their sound, attitude, and delivery. No gray area, no "Brown," just lots of gritty black.
RECORDING and TOURING
"They're two totally different things and I love them and am totally addicted to both of them." Mickey continues, "I guess I enjoy recording more in an overall way because we're in a privileged position where people get to hear our music. That we get to release it on record labels, for that I will always be grateful – and amazed. You know, if we do a great song sitting in our bedroom with two pairs of headphones on and people get to hear it and it comes out world wide, that part of it is amazing, and I love that. In a way, it's around forever. When it comes out, it becomes a part of the whole big song that's been going on forever-and-ever. But touring is more of an ego-trip; it's like some hedonistic kinda shit. You go out there and you have a great gig or whatever and you talk to some fuckin' jerk-offs and some hot chicks you want to fuck, and then you go back to the hotel and then the night is over and then that's the end of that and now it's just a memory, it goes into the air."
Don't let Mickey fool ya - it's not all hot bars, "jerk-offs," and "hot chicks." He's been at this for some time, and he's learned a few things. He's no young buck anymore; he's got a four year-old son, and he's gained some perspective. "Ween's been touring for like sixteen years. Now it's more about, I go out and just want to enjoy myself. I enjoy talking to people more, and I enjoy trying to see some things, experiencing what's best about a city. Like when you're in Seattle, making a point of going out and getting crab legs, some good seafood." But then again, we are talking about Dean Ween here, the guy who is half of the brain behind one of the most twisted groups still around. "I have a lot of musical hatred. I definitely feel like when I pick up my guitar before a gig, whether it's Ween or Moistboyz, I want to kill people with it. Literally, I want revenge for something. I don't know what it is, but I want it."
SO WHAT DOES DEAN WEEN DO BEFORE THE GIG?
"I'm very much all about a routine. No matter who I'm playing with, my routine is to be alone – completely. I don't like to fucking talk to anybody. I stay in the hotel all day. I'll sleep like three or four different times during the day and sit and smoke cigarettes and chill. I don't go to movies before gigs, I don't go out to dinner, I don't socialize. I kinda just sit and get my game face on. I like to be nervous, I like to be hungry – like physically, I eat like eight hours before the gig, and that's it. I get a little bit loose – back when I was a degenerate drug addict, I used to get destroyed, but now I'll drink a bit before we play, have like four or five beers and just get loosened up but not destroyed. And that's it - I don't practice, I don't play, nothing like that."
"You know, I've always said, and I stand behind it - I don't care who listens to the music or how they hear about it or find out about it. Everyone used to ask me if it makes me mad that so many people first heard about Ween because of Beavis and Butthead? And it was like, no, it doesn't make me mad. Well for one, it was one of the greatest shows probably ever on television, and two, what does it matter how they find their way to the music? If they hear it and are interested enough to go buy our record, well that's great. It's just a means to an end. As a matter of fact, one of the things I'm most proud of with Ween is that our crowd is all over the place. We have ex-hippies, burnt-out fifty year-old hippies, we've got frat boys, there's fucking Phish fans, scumbags, punk rockers, drug addicts, criminals, black people, white people, hicks, and I'm really, really proud of that. And I think Moistboyz are definitely going for the kids specifically. But really, we don't think about it. But it is sort of geared towards – it is angry rock and roll."
"Our fans on the internet are very uptight and protective about people spilling over from like Phish covering our music or doing these festivals like Bonnaroo or Vegoose festival coming up. And while it's not something I want to be exclusively married to – like this is what we are, this is what we do - because a lot of those bands do every single one of these festivals. So it's something that we try to keep a limit on, but all we're doing is getting up there and playing our music for people. And if it gets them off, I really could care if we're playing for 100,000 homeless people or 100,000 Mexicans in Mexico. It doesn't matter to us - we're standing up there playing. And if it's a bunch of hippies on acid, that's pretty standard rock and roll format. That's pretty much how it's been for thirty or forty years now. So it seems pretty normal."
WEEN CAN JAM! BUT DON'T WEAR THAT BEANIE
No one in their right mind would ever call Ween or the Moistboyz a "jam band," but as Mickey tells us, "I love to jam. I've done more jamming than anybody. I come from a jam background where we get together, and we play for five hours." But here's the kicker: "We don't record it, we don't do anything with it, and we leave it right there in the rehearsal room. I would never subject anybody to it."
Sure, you may say that lots of "jam bands" work hard in the studio - that they have their own style of songs, and they focus when it's time to reel it in. Maybe you think it's only on stage where the jamming really gets going. Well, Mickey's got plenty to say about that as well. "Ween does a fair amount of jamming on stage, but it's in the context of our songs. We never just take it out. I don't think it's fair. I think you're cheating people. At a festival it's like four days of five hundred guys wanking endlessly, with like the conga player with the Rasta beanie on. Fuck you, pal. I'd like to take a beer bottle and smash it in his face. I like to do all kinds of things, and I'd say the first Bonnaroo festival I would rank in the top three experiences I've ever had being in a band. It was the most people we've ever played for by far, and they put us on the main stage before The Dead. I rank it up there as one of the highlights of our career."