For nearly 30 years, Aaron Freeman was known endearingly to his listeners as Gene Ween. The co-founder and lead singer of the surrealist and whimsical psychedelic band Ween, Freeman was a vocal shape-shifter that helped define the continually evolving sound of a band that innovated through emulating. From bedroom band to an epic live act, Ween recorded 11 studio records in 28 years before Freeman put an end to the project in 2012. Realizing the band’s loose lifestyle had led to a life of addiction, Freeman decided to get help.
“Basically my brain was fried,” says Freeman. “I just couldn’t get out of the cycle of addiction. Everybody knew it, but it takes the person to finally get it. Six months in, it finally clicked and I realized things had to change. If you sit in the barbershop long enough, you’re going to get the haircut. I knew that I had to change a lot about my life and really protect myself from things that aren’t necessarily other people’s fault. When I first got home from rehab, I didn’t know if I was going to write another record; I didn’t know if I was going to make music again.”
After battling a creative block and recording an album of Rod McKuen covers, Freeman, now two years sober, returns with his first album of original work since the band’s demise. He says his creativity just flowed one day.
“I think my music all gathers in my subconscious for a while. Usually what happens is it gets stored in there and then it just spills out. That’s just always how I’ve worked. One day I was just sitting here on the porch that I’m sitting on now, looking out at the rocks and the chipmunks with my guitar and it just came out. It just kept coming and all of a sudden I had 15 or 16 songs. It was great. I really didn’t know if I could write again, so to feel it coming out of me from that same place that it always had was just great. They say if you keep going with something, good things will happen by default. And they did. I just see this record as a really nice bonus to the bigger picture. I really identify myself as an artist and songwriter and I can do it in a healthier way.”
Using his given name with an undeniable and inherent metaphor within, FREEMAN shows Freeman at his most honest and heartfelt, but fans will still find those unmistakable Gene Ween stylings that have always tied his songs together.
“I don’t have to sing about that ‘Jimmy-Jack-Pammity-Flack’ like Ween did,” notes Freeman half sarcastically. “It was fun and it was great, but my songwriting hasn’t changed much. Things change, but they don’t change that much. This record is stripped-down, which I’ve always wanted to do. There are no bells and whistles on this one. I was feeling simple and tender and I wanted it to feel like that. Only the music matters. That’s really the bottom line. I made this record, and even if this record sucked, it would be a statement that ‘hey you can move on and you can do this,’ and I think a lot of people appreciate that in life. I’m glad to maybe be an example for some people. If there are some fans that are pissed because maybe we broke their adolescent dream… whatever!”