Weird for the sake of being weird, Ween has managed to attract a pack of rabid followers, and brothers Dean and Gene Ween have even created a few hit singles, like the annoyingly catchy "Push Th' Little Daisies" and "Voodoo Lady." Early Ween records–like The Pod and God Ween Satan: The Oneness—sound like the work of two permanently stoned teenagers, but the band made a startling about-face on its straight-faced, profanity-laced 1996 country album, 12 Golden Country Greats. After the country detour, the band returned with The Mollusk, an album partially inspired by a flood at Ween's rehearsal space. Dean Ween (real name: Mickey Melchiondo) recently dispensed worldly wisdom in a conversation with The Onion.
The Onion: How did the country album come about, and how did fans react to it?
Dean Ween: There was no "Ween goes country" plan, or anything like that; it's just that we were leaning in that direction. There were maybe five songs we knew we were gonna put on that album that were kind of countryish, so we decided we should just write five more and go down to Nashville and do it. Because we can, you know? I've learned a lot throughout all of this—it was definitely a rad move. I figured it would bum some people out, but at the same time that's not what influences us when we make our records. We basically want to make records that we're satisfied with first. We want people to like 'em and all that, but… Even I don't really like country-western after the 1980s. I like the badasses of the old day, like Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash. And the kids hate country. They think of Garth [Brooks]. You can't really expect a 15-year-old kid to know the music of Roger Miller or Hank Williams.
O: The album cover—an old painting of a cowboy—sure looked weird with that parental-advisory sticker on there.
DW: I don't know why they keep giving us that sticker. I hate that thing. It ruins the artwork, and they do it on all our records. We get flak for everything on some level every time we make a record. And we don't really have much use for people who are offended by our albums or album covers. Or the language we use.
O: Do you feel you run the risk of being considered a mere novelty?
DW: No. Yeah, we've been accused of being that way since the beginning. That's the price you pay for being funny, know what I mean? We take that shit over all our records, and it doesn't bother me so much. I've gotten used to it. We're not out to make a statement, and we could make any kind of record we wanted to. I think we could make a real downer of an album, but that's not really where it's at for us. We're just out to have fun, and a lot of people don't like to see that.
O: With the new song "Mutilated Lips," did you envision that as a radio single?
DW: We've never really set out to write a single. A lot of people do that when they've got to make their mortgage payment or something, you know what I mean? We've been around a long time now, and I've seen what it's like to have a big MTV hit. It's not necessarily the best thing for your career. I think if it happened to us, it wouldn't kill us, though, because we've got a lot of records with a lot of songs on them. And with The Mollusk, it's more of an old-school Ween record in a way, a step forward and a step backward. It was recorded by us, so there are a lot of mistakes, and it's pretty sloppy. So we're not thinking about singles.
O: Does Ween—a band often associated with marijuana use—advocate changes in drug laws or hemp legislation? Have you ever appeared in High Times?
DW: No, not at all. A lot of bands are really blatant about it and want to play benefits for NORML and all that, but we never wanted to. We're not a band that champions any sort of cause, you know what I'm sayin'? I don't rock for fuckin' choice; I don't rock for this or that, you know what I mean? We just want to make music, really. It was always sort of a matter of record where we stood on it, so there was no reason to drive it home. We don't smoke like that anymore, you know what I mean? That was as close to a religion as I had for all those years. I used to just wake and bake and smoke all day and then all night, you know? It just doesn't work like that for me anymore. But I won't deny that pot and music are a winning combination, you know what I mean? It's just a fact. I'm not saying that people should smoke and listen to our music, but you definitely missed out on something in life if you haven't done that, you know what I mean? If you never smoked and listened to "Are You Experienced?," you've missed out on a big thing.