By Courtney Harrell
By Kyra Scrimgeour
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In the past fifteen years, the pair has tweaked its creative approach in subtle but significant ways. When Melchiondo and Freeman started recording what would eventually become The Mollusk, for example, they implemented a plan they'd first formulated as teenagers: They rented a house on the New Jersey shore, sequestered themselves for days, and focused on the music.
"That whole Mollusk record — that's my favorite Ween record, and I think it always will be," Melchiondo notes. "We didn't have anything written; the first seven songs that we wrote ended up on that record. We were writing like one or two songs a day the first week or two there. When we drove home, the best parts had been written and recorded. It just happened really, really fast.
"We always said we have to go down to the shore in the winter, when there's nobody down there and all the traffic lights are turned off," Melchiondo goes on, "There's something about that environment — it's total isolation. You can always just stop and take a walk along the beach."
The Ween brothers have also drawn on input from their rhythm section, which has remained constant for the band's recent history. Drummer Claude Coleman Jr., bassist Dave Dreiwitz and keyboardist Glenn McClelland have figured on all of the band's releases for more than a decade.
"It's been about fifteen years with the five of us," he says. "They're definitely involved. I mean, White Pepper was a band record when we got into the studio. Some tracks we cut as a band. On La Cucaracha, I know we did 'Woman and Man' that way, 'Your Party,' 'Bare Hands.' There are always a handful of songs that are better like that."
But at its creative core, the band is still about a pair of collaborators who met in a New Hope-Solebury High School typing class as teenagers. It's remained rooted in Mickey Melchiondo and Aaron Freeman's common ties, similarities linked to their backgrounds in the same small New England town.
"The best stuff happens really, really fast, and I know Aaron would tell you the same thing," Melchiondo notes with surety. "We both write a lot on our own, but all my favorite Ween tunes were written by both of us. They were done in like forty minutes."