For more than a quarter of a century, Aaron Freeman (Gene Ween) and Mickey Melchiondo (Dean Ween) have been operating on the fringes of the rock world as Ween, one of the weirdest cult bands to ever land on MTV.
Under the aliases Gene and Dean Ween, the pair built up a relatively small but rabid following, but went relatively quiet in recent years — the band hadn’t put out a new album since 2007’s La Cucaracha. Now, Freeman says the band will be permanently pushing up th’ little daisies.
“It’s time to move on,” Freeman told Rolling Stone. “I’m retiring Gene Ween. It’s been a long time. It was a good run.” He recently released his first solo album Marvelous Clouds and will continue to make music under his government name.
Unfortunately, this all came as a surprise to Melchiondo, who was apparently not aware that his lifelong musical project was being retired. “[It’s] news to me, all I can say for now I guess,” Melchiondo wrote on Ween’s Facebook page. There hasn’t been an official statement about the status of the band, and though it’s been five years since their last album, the pair played concerts together at the end of 2011.
In their heyday, Ween were embraced by the 120 Minutes generation that also made bands like the Butthole Surfers, Ass Ponys, They Might Be Giants, and Primus into semi-mainstream sensations. The ’90s turned out be their their most successful and productive period, cresting with 1994’s Chocolate and Cheese, 1996’s 12 Golden Country Greats, and 1997’s The Mollusk.
But they remained beloved by their core fans, and by several similarly oddball tastemakers in the mainstream as well: Their song “Ocean Man” appeared in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, and “The Rainbow” showed up on Chef Aid: The South Park Album.
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