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Dean Ween: The term "side project" makes me want to vomit

Dean Ween: The term "side project" makes me want to vomit
Photo by Beta Klein

Ween broke up nearly two years ago, but Dean Ween -- AKA Mickey Melchiondo -- has been keeping himself plenty busy. He goes by Mickey Moist when he's playing with his other band (don't call them a side project) Moistboyz. They released their fifth album, V, late in 2013 and followed that up with several tours with a backing band featuring Queens of the Stone Age vet Nick Oliveri. He also has a new band called The Dean Ween Group, and recently played with a Ween cover band in Chicago. In addition to his musical endeavors, he is still running a fishing guide service.

The Moistboyz recently embarked on a short tour with old pals the Meat Puppets, which includes the Moistboyz's first-ever stop in the Twin Cities at the Cabooze on Saturday. Gimme Noise connected with Melchiondo ahead of the show to talk about the Moistboyz tour and what the future holds for both of his bands.

Gimme Noise: It seems like the Moistboyz are playing more shows and hitting cities you've never been to, how have the shows been going?
Dean Ween: The shows have been incredible, we have an awesome backing band with Nick, Haas, and Hoss. We haven't had time in the past to do as much touring as we should have but now we're getting to reap the benefits of that. Moistboyz live is something that doesn't happen a whole hell of a lot, or not as much as it should. Our live shows are where we really shine in my opinion. Most of the shows are sold out and we leave people confused, thoroughly satiated, and dumbfounded by the rock they just witnessed.


Are you enjoying playing more intimate venues where the crowd is right in your face?
Honestly, the size of the crowd never has mattered to me. I prepare the same way and get more nervous the smaller the venue.

Which songs are you playing?
We do a very balanced set as far as our material goes. We play about 20 songs and they're mixed from all of the albums. At this point after five records we have a nice big catalog of great songs to choose from and have our own fans instead of just Ween fans coming out to hear a "side project". Actually that term makes me want to vomit. How many bands are even around for 20 plus years and make five records anyway?

Had you been wanting to do a tour with the Meat Puppets or was this just a case of the right time at the right place?
I've done some touring withe Meat Pups in Ween and they are good friends. It's a perfect fit, I love those guys personally and obviously I'm a mega-fan of their music too, so it's great all around. One of the only bands I've ever played with where I watch their set every night. The other was Crazy Horse if that gives you an idea of where I rank the Pups.
 
Where does your new band, The Dean Ween Group, fall musically compared to Ween and/or the Moistboyz?
I'm not sure yet, I'm making up the DWG as I go along. I have a bunch of new tunes I haven't tried out yet and I'm experimenting with different lineups every show right now.

Will you be continuing to tour as the Moistboyz, or moving on to shows with The Dean Ween Group, or both?
Both. after this Moistboyz tour is over we don't have any more dates but I expect that to change. It's too good to just stop for awhile. we have too much momentum and a new album out that people are still discovering. I love doing it, I'm hoping someone adds us to their mega-tour as an opening slot/band. If not, I'm sure we'll keep going regardless.

With new albums either already or soon to be released and several tours with both bands, does that mean fishing is on the back burner in 2014?
I'm trying to make sure I do a comfortable balance of both. Being a full time charter boat captain is harder than being a touring guitarist, honestly. I love fishing and I love chartering, but the two things don't balance out right as far as the hours go. I ran too many trips the past few years and it took a toll on my body. Too many times I went right from a gig to the boat at 4 a.m. That makes it a little less fun, especially when you have a lot of passion for both things, you don't want to to compromise your health -- you wanna do your best at the things you love. It's tough, the juxtaposition between the two.


Dean Ween with the Meat Puppets.

You have a long history with Minneapolis going back to Ween's first albums that were released on Twin/Tone Records, do you have any favorite memories?
Too many actually. I love the Twin Cities. I always tell people when they ask "where would you live if you moved from New Hope [in Pennsylvania]?" the answer is always Minneapolis, no lie.

Moistboyz open for the Meat Puppets. $15, 18+, Saturday, April 5 at the Cabooze. Tickets.

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