Aaron Freeman (former lead singer of WEEN)
Wednesday May 8, 2013 @ 9:00 PM
Aaron Freeman, front man for the iconic cult rock band Ween, has gained equal notoriety and critical acclaim over the past two decades as a musical shape shifter, performing songs ranging from punk to country to metal to pop and everything in between. Not only eclectic in genre, Freeman has adopted countless musical personas, taking on new identities within each song and each album, all under the pseudonym Gene Ween.
Now, for the first time, Freeman has shed the moniker, recording a solo album and giving fans a glimpse at the man behind the mask. Marvelous Clouds is his most personal and authentic effort to date, showcasing his oft-overlooked abilities as a vocalist. As his fans can attest, however, there’s always more than meets the ear with Aaron Freeman. Ironically, he manages to articulate himself more honestly than ever on a record of songs by someone else. The record is Freeman’s interpretation of 13 songs by Rod McKuen. To many younger people today, that name means nothing. But throughout the `50s and `60s, he was one of the biggest celebrities in the world. McKuen ran away from home from an abusive home at the age of 11, finding work as a railroad worker, lumberjack, rodeo cowboy, stuntman, radio disk jockey, and Korean War propaganda writer. Finally, he ended up in San Francisco, writing and performing poetry with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. From there, his life took some even more interesting turns. His books of poetry sold millions of copies. He won a Grammy and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and two Academy Awards. He has been covered by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Madonna to Johnny Cash. Since the `70s, however, McKuen has retreaded into seclusion, leaving a generation widely unaware of his work. Now, his music is being introduced to a new generation, from the most unlikely of sources. These thirteen songs deal with struggles that Freeman deftly brings out in his performance, including love, self-identity, and societal integration. Many of the songs appear happy at first listen, hiding dark themes behind a lyrical veil. Producer Ben Vaughn masterfully found a way to emphasize this, providing a bright compelling sound just transparent enough to show the listener that there’s something menacing behind it. “When I first played Rod McKuen’s music for Aaron it was as if he was abducted by aliens,” recalls Vaughn. “The connection was immediate. It was a great thing to witness. Aaron’s ear for harmonies was exhaustingly put to use. We worked long days getting the parts just right. He got inside each song and stayed there until he was satisfied. When were done we knew we had something special.”