The Deaner Album is the debut album from The Dean Ween Group, to be released October 21, 2016 distributed by ATO Records. Dean Ween – aka The Deaner – recorded the album in several locations but finished it at his dedicated studio facility in Lambertville, NJ, across the river from his native New Hope, PA.
On The Deaner Album, Dean brings his love of classic guitar rock to 14 original compositions (including four instrumentals) that echo everything from classic rock to cracked country to the quirky mix of soul, funk, metal and punk that defined Ween. “My tastes are very mainstream; I love Jimi Hendrix and Santana and Zeppelin, but my ears are always open,” The Deaner says. “P-Funk, they’re right up there with the Beatles. That’s what my influences were – that and punk rock – and I wanted all that in this album.”
“I got inspired about two years ago when I started this band and it hasn’t dried up yet,” he says. “I’m starting to realize what I want to get out of the Dean Ween Group and it’s just more of all the good things I’ve ever liked about the records I’ve made. It’s a solid record. I don’t care if people like a record or not. If I know I put a lot of work into it, then I can live with it forever. I have no regrets musically about anything I’ve ever done… Ween, Moist Boyz, Chris Harford, whatever. And I got there with my record. A lot of work went into it and I hope it translates when you hear it.”
“After Ween stopped, I put my guitar down for almost a year,” Dean says. “I’ll never do that again. I’m so into practicing and writing and being good at my craft right now. I’m back in playoff shape. I write and play and record all day, every day, and I’m going to keep it there for the rest of my life.”
Once he started performing live with the Dean Ween Group, it was inevitable he’d start writing songs for his new band too. Once he started, he couldn’t stop. “I never forget ideas. I can write a chorus, a melody, a rhyme, a lick, they never go away,” The Deaner says. “So there are a lot of scraps on this record that became fleshed out. Most of these songs started from one of the scraps, and then there’d be nothing left of it by the time I was done with the song. I still do that, I’ll always do that.”
“I don’t know if you’re allowed to steal from yourself,” he adds, “but I think you are.”
Initially, The Deaner Album found Dean moving to a more ensemble approach to recording, as he enlisted the services of current bandmates as well as old friends including the Meat Puppets’ Curt Kirkwood, legendary punk drummer Chuck Treece, and guitarists Mike “Kidd Funkadelic” Hampton, Scott Rednor, and Bill Fowler among others. “If I woke up in the middle of the night with an idea, I’d call a session and have the whole band come in and learn the song and play it together,” The Deaner says. “That was really different for me. I could actually show some patience and not just half-ass it. If I needed a drummer, I’d get the best drummer I could to play that particular song.“
Another huge change for Dean was moving into his own studio, converted from an old chicken coop in the woods of Western New Jersey on a patch of land donated by a friend’s father. “I think finally having my own studio has been a big part of why this record is as good as it is,” he says. “All the gear I’ve acquired over the years that’s been in storage and my garage and my attic, it’s all in one place now. Every guitar I’ve ever bought, every amp, every pedal, every effect, all in one place and it’s all getting used all the time. I’m there pretty much all day, every day, all night, every night, doing something – recording, practicing, mixing. It’s in the country, in the woods, nobody can hear us, and I’ve got a sound system in there powerful enough to power a big club. And you can go outside in your underwear and smoke a cigarette or blow off a grenade and nobody’s going to hear you.”
The Deaner recorded three of the tracks on the album by himself, playing all of the instruments. That includes “SchwarzPete,” a loving tribute to guitar hero Les Paul and the collection’s oldest song, originally written years ago for a TV pilot. “I always wanted that song to be on a record,” he says. “I love that style of guitar playing.”
Before diving headfirst into The Deaner Album, Dean produced and engineered Moistboyz V, his fifth collaboration with punk singer Guy Heller. “My idea was to do the Moistboyz’ record and my record at the same time, but I realized I needed to focus on one record at a time and shelved my record for a bit,” he says. “Then when I moved into my new studio a year or so ago, I just really went all in on my record, no distractions, no side projects. I did a lot of gigging, but that just benefited the record because my playing and singing just kept getting better.”
The Deaner has contributed to numerous projects helmed by his close friend Josh Homme including albums by Queens Of The Stone Age, Mark Lanegan and The Desert Sessions as well as working with Yoko Ono, Ben Vaughn and many others.
He also hosts the weekly “Invitational Jam” at the venue John & Peters in New Hope. Musicians who sign up for this perform with the house band which consists The Deaner, the instrumental backbone of Ween, Mike Hampton (Parliament-Funkadelic), Vincent Martell of Vanilla Fudge, and many others. Players fly in from all over the country to get in on the action. He also holds a captain’s license and run his own charter fishing company out of Belmar, New Jersey.
For more than 30 years, Dean Ween has been best known as the guitar-slinging partner of Gene Ween in the international cult band Ween. Dean and Gene formed Ween as middle-school students in 1984 and released nine studio albums (five on Elektra Records) and six live albums before going on hiatus in 2012. The group reunited in 2016 and plans to continue performing live. The Dean Ween Group includes touring Ween members Claude Coleman Jr., Dave Dreiwitz, and Glenn McClelland as well as Bill Fowler formed about two years ago as a way for The Deaner to get back into live performance.