Aaron Freeman Talks Billy Joel Tribute | Using Gene Ween Name

By Scott Bernstein Feb 20, 2015 9:40 am PST

Earlier this week Brooklyn Bowl announced it will host Gene Ween Does Billy Joel on May 28 and one of the many surprising things about the announcement was the usage of “Gene Ween.” You may recall that Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman told Rolling Stone he was “retiring Gene Ween” as part of an interview that essentially served as notice Ween had broken up. Freeman discussed the return of Gene Ween, the Billy Joel tribute, his relationship with Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo and more with Fly Magazine.

One of the many things we learned from the interview is that the Brooklyn Bowl show may not be it for “Gene Ween Does Billy Joel.” When asked whether the tribute was real, Freeman responded “Yeah, it’s real. I’m doing it with Paul Green and the School of Rock. I love Billy Joel so I had this idea to do a complete cover band. We’re going to be doing at least a 90-minute set and a couple cool shows.” As for now, there’s only one Gene Ween Does Billy Joel show on the books.

Why did Aaron decide to use the Gene Ween moniker for the project? “At the end of the day, people know Gene Ween. It’s not anything I should be ashamed of,” Freeman said before adding, “I was really having an identity crisis and that happens – just what you said – so it’s important to separate those things. You get lost in who you are. As I grow and get more confident in who I am and my sobriety it’s like, ‘Oh yeah, Gene Ween.’ It’s a positive thing and it represents the work I did since I was 16.”

Those hoping the return of the Gene Ween persona means a potential Ween reunion is in the works shouldn’t hold their breath. Fly asked Freeman about the last time he spoke with Mickey “Dean Ween” Melchiondo, “I don’t know how much I want to get into it. It’s cool you know.” Does Gener miss playing with Deaner? “Nah. I got bigger fish to fry,” Freeman responded.

Dean Ween feels differently as he recently shared the following on Facebook in regards to the potshots Gener was taking regarding Deaner’s comments on the upcoming Ween Minus Gene shows, “I think that a lot of people misinterpreted what I meant when I posted that Ween playing these southern shows was an open invite to audition new singers. There is only one Aaron Freeman, and one Mickey Melchiondo. I don’t mind playing a few tunes here and there with a different person on the mic, like Guy, but watching the Chicago DVD makes me realize how much I miss being the guitarist and having Aaron sing. We are brothers in a way that is impossible to explain, maybe even closer. I pray that the day comes when we can work together again—I have a lot of talented friends and songwriting partners but what Aaron and I had was something beyond telepathic. So please don’t bash him or think that I’m looking for a replacement, because it’s impossible. I’m the only one with the right and qualifications to sing our songs when all is said and done. Ween will live forever. Aaron is doing what he has to do right now, and that’s all there is to it.” Clearly, the pair still aren’t on the same page nearly three years after Ween broke up.

Aaron “Gene Ween” Freeman talks about many additional topics including the history of Ween in his fascinating chat with Fly Magazine. Tickets for Gene Ween Does Billy Joel are on sale now.

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