The Black Keys had Mike Tyson, and Aaron Freeman has Jack Black. Yes, the star of such comedic fare as School of Rock and Nacho Libre has helped the man formerly known as Gene Ween launch his new band FREEMAN, “leaking” the project’s lead single and album info via his Facebook page. On July 22nd, the band will release its self-titled debut album, serving as Aaron Freeman’s first original recordings in over seven years.
The 12-track effort was produced by Chris Shaw (Bob Dylan, Public Enemy) and comes just two years after Freeman’s solo debut, his Rod McKuen tribute record Marvelous Clouds.
According to a press release, the new album features a distinct spiritual influence, as Freeman turned to Kabbalah readings and James A. Michener’s novel The Source as he overcame his substance abuse problems.
“There’s a lot of spiritual stuff on here because that really helped me,” Freeman says. “I listened to a lot of reggae—’Jah gonna help me through Babylon,’ you know? I listened to a lot of Paul McCartney too, and I thought, if he can do this, break up the fucking Beatles, I can certainly break up Ween and be okay.”
Adds Freeman, “I wrote the songs I wrote in Ween despite all the drugs and alcohol I was doing, not because. Most people don’t get sobriety at all. They assume you’re this better-than-thou monk sitting on a mountain, judging everybody. It’s not that way: You have to let everybody do their thing, and you get weirder.”
Even as he looks to the future, though, Freeman maintains a special reverence for Ween. “I want this record to pay homage to Ween,” he says. “These are the same songs I would’ve written in Ween — except without (ex-bandmate) Mickey (Melchiondo, a.k.a. Dean Ween).” As the press release explains, several tracks even “hark back to the role-playing that was a hallmark of Freeman’s back-catalog.”
Below, check out the album’s lead single, the Black-approved “(For a While) I Couldn’t Play My Guitar Like a Man”. As promised, Freeman continues in a similar vein as Ween, crafting a slow, methodical acoustic ditty about the loss of that oh-so crucial male vigor. Even if it’s something of an extended goof on impotency, the blues-rock vibe and extra pained vocals prove that Freeman’s gained a lot of clarity and insight in recent years. If you’re looking for a place to classify this, just call it the slack-rock version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”.
01. Covert Discretion
02. The English and Western Stallion
03. (For a While) I Couldn’t Play My Guitar Like a Man
04. El Shaddai
05. Black Bush
06. Gimme One More
07. More Than the World
08. All the Way to China
09. Golden Monkey
10. Delicate Green
11. There Is a Form
12. I Know a Girl