If you’re a fan of the band Ween, then you know Deaner, and if you aren’t, then you should be. Less commonly known as Mickey Melchiondo, he is the guitarist and co-songwriter of the recently reunited Ween with Aaron Freeman, or Gene Ween. Apart from Ween, he also plays in his two side-projects, the Moistboyz and the Dean Ween Group, the latter of which just released its first LP this October. Dean Ween Group is “a rotating cast of characters fronted by the man himself, Dean Ween,” which consistently includes other Ween members, Dave Dreiwitz, Glenn McClelland, and sometimes Claude Coleman Jr. The new album is viewed as Deaner’s first solo LP and is called “The Deaner Album.”
Chock-full of inside jokes and glimpses into his personality, the debut solo record is so intimate and so Dean Ween that the only way to get closer to the man himself would be to just hang out with him on a porch and get munted. Deaner’s ambition for the album was to live out his dream of being a “guitar-player guy.” With Ween, the music was more about the songs and concepts, while guitar work came second or was not important at all. The Deaner Album greatly succeeds as an outlet for Deaner’s desire to rock out and challenge himself. The result is a heavy, brown and blue, rock & roll gem. He’s said it before, “We don’t even know how to make weak-sauce music.”
Many of the songs are inspired by other musicians, mostly guitar players, and Deaner doesn’t leave much room for the imagination with titles like “Dickie Betts” (after founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, Dickey Betts) and “Garry” (after Garry Shider of Parliament-Funkadelic). “Bundle of Joy” is indirectly influenced by “Midnight Rambler” from the Rolling Stones, while “Mercedes-Benz” is a fusion of Dean Ween’s obsessions with Prince and Parliament. And, though you wouldn’t know it immediately, “Doo Doo Chasers” is actually Dean Ween’s idea of a Funkadelic B-side cover. Even the song “Schwartze Pete,” an old Ween demo that he dusted off and included on the album, was an homage to Les Paul’s legendary style.
The intimacy of the album doesn’t only come from the insight to Dean Ween’s influences, but also because he had a ton of friends/fellow musicians record on it with him, and obviously had a blast doing it. The inside of the CD is a two-page photo compilation of all the people who helped with the LP. Deaner recorded all the instruments on four of the tracks, but there is still a staggering list of guest players for the rest of the LP. On guitar: Joe Kramer, Curt Kirkwood, Bill Fowler, Scott Rednor, Jono Manson, Tim Nayfield, and Michael Hampton. On Drums: Chuck Treece, Claude Coleman Jr., Ray Kubian, Sim Cain, and John Michael. On bass: Dave Dreiwitz, Michael Jude, Gabe Monago, and Lucas Rinz. On Keys: Glenn McClelland and Stephen Haas. Additional vocals by Guy Heller and Carol Brooks, with Ralph Liberto providing horns.
The final blast of sincerity in this album comes from songs like “Charlie Brown,” “You Were There,” “Bums” and “Gum.” With tracks like these, Deaner expresses his genuine personality while also affirming that parts of him haven’t changed a bit since he recorded GodWeenSatan: The Oneness in his adolescence. According to Melchiondo, “Charlie Brown” spawned from his lifelong love of the Peanuts series, “You Were There” is based on a joke between him and his fishing buddy Nick, and “Bums” sums up his life in a nutshell. The basic point of “bums” would be that he and his friends are night owls, so when you’re just waking up, they are in their prime. The song “Gum” is indeed a treat for longtime fans of Dean Ween. The song itself is infantile and silly, with the main focus being the child-like lyrics (“I like gum! All kinds of gum!”) and some interesting guitar “solos” drenched in effects. Dean Ween describes the inclusion of this track to be necessary proof that he is “just as pathetic in 2016, and still makes sad-ass tunes like this.”
After a two-week tour for the initial release, DWG is now gearing up for another small tour from the northeast to the south to promote The Deaner Album. Last April, they headlined the Megalomaniacs Ball with Mike Dillon, Stanton Moore, and friends. Many of the songs from that setlist were early versions of songs from the new record, so anyone who enjoyed that show would love the new album and absolutely should not miss Dean Ween Group’s return to NOLA on February 1st. The location is world-famous Tipitina’s and Claude Coleman Jr.’s solo project “Amandla” will be opening. Go buy The Deaner Album and don’t you dare miss the show.