Exclusive With Claude Coleman of Ween
Article By Adam Perry
Ween, the ever-experimental and edgy Philadelphia rock band, is back. With frontman Gene Ween(born Aaron Freeman) in recovery from substance abuse, the brilliantly oddball group will play three shows this weekend at 1STBANK Center, and the list of subsequent dates is growing. Other than a statement last fall and a recent Facebook post from Dean Ween (né Mickey Melchiondo), which promised that the three Broomfield shows will include 94 songs and no repeats, Ween’s reunion — according to its management company — has been interview-free.
Unless, of course, you ask the drummer.
Claude Coleman Jr., Ween’s drummer since 1993 and the singer of such refined classics as “Put the Coke on My Dick” and “Deez Nutz,” experienced a near-fatal car accident in 2002, and despite that obstacle and his previous intimations that life in Ween might not be all “Chocolate and Cheese,” he seems more than ready to perform with the band again.
When Coleman is asked if he was more surprised by the upcoming reunion than he was by Freeman announcing his retirement in 2012, he replies, “Boognish almightily rose through the smoldering, smoking cracks of subterranean Earth and into the sky, and slapped Gene and Dean upside their heads with 25 feet of flaccid penis and told them to get their shit together. In other words, the universe more or less initiated the return of Ween.”
And off we go.
“I think everyone felt the return was an inevitability,” Coleman continues. “If you’ve got a business and people are lining up for miles and miles, waiting year after year on the street for you to just open and sell to them, eventually common-fucking-sense trumps ego, and you open the door to…make the world happy while feeding your family in the process. Musicians can be so self-important and uptight. There’s an old joke: ‘How do you make a musician complain? Get him a gig!’”
Denver fans aren’t complaining that these reunion gigs are happening here, but the question persists among Ween’s audience: What’s the connection between the band and Colorado?
“Colorado has always had big love for Ween,” Coleman says. “I would bet we could pull off a residency at Red Rocks. As far as why Denver — well, our last shows as a band were at the Fillmore, so it seems a fitting place to pick back up, I reckon. That, and you have awesome edible medicinals for stress.”
Coleman adds that “the band as players are in the best form of our lives,” and he urges fans to “expect a bloodletting.” No new Ween album is in the works just yet, as “everyone’s easing back into things.”
Easing back into playing together includes figuring out the balance of having fun and staying healthy physically and mentally.
“I can’t speak for anyone else’s mental and physical well-being,” he says. “For me, I’ll be in recovery for the rest of my life trying to reclaim feeling on the lost side of my body, working to overcome chronic pain and paralysis. It took a painful while to re-acclimate to playing three-hour Ween shows again, so while I’ve sort of figured it out, I’m still trying to get another .03 percent more control of my body so as not to smash my knuckles open into everything from the loss of sensation. It’s a challenge I’m down for.”
Asked about the anticipation that the bandmembers and their fans are feeling, Coleman gushes, imagining those first moments back on stage.
“We’re doing so much rehearsal work, overcoming a lot of emotional strife, drama…wading through a pond of poo to get to the flowery meadow under a blue sky and open sun. That moment when we’ll walk out, everything will be love and magic, and, yeah, I imagine there’ll be an ovation for like twenty minutes. Which will be intense. It’ll bury all the bullshit; it’ll squash everything and anything else there is, and we’ll be under a roar of love and appreciation that you can’t walk away from or pretend to be unaffected by.”
Despite the talk of standing ovations, Coleman ultimately focuses on the fans: “It should be powerfully humbling, an acknowledgement that no one of us is more important than the music, than any music, and how it serves people’s lives. It’s the kind of lesson and moment you receive once in a lifetime.”
8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, February 12-14, 1STBANK Center, 11450 Broomfield Lane, Broomfield, 303-410-0700.