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Aaron Freeman: Return to Form


“I like writing songs that aren’t literal, that can be can be interpreted by a child and an old man alike,” says Aaron Freeman.

Aaron Freeman's Gear

Martin D-28
Gibson Les Paul 1958 Historic

Mesa/Boogie Dual Rectifier Trem-O-Verb
Music Man 212

Boss DS-1 Distortion
Electro-Harmonix Stereo Polychorus
MXR Carbon Copy Analog Delay
MXR Micro Flanger
MXR Phase 90 Phaser

Strings and Picks
D’Addario EXL110 strings (.010–.046)
Martin SP Lifespan Phosphor Bronze strings (.012–.054)
Dunlop Tortex .60 mm picks

Talk about your benchmarks in terms of guitar playing.
I was just thinking about this. One of biggest influences on electric was Paul Leary from the Butthole Surfers. We opened for them in ’86 at City Gardens in Trenton, New Jersey. It was probably one of most influential concerts I’ve been to. It blew me out of water, took me into a realm of darkness that I’d never been. It really altered me. Paul is so amazing. For so many songs, like “TP Parter,” he tunes way down, with all strings kind of loose. He’s just what I like in guitar playing, not at all virtuosic—just simple and fucking dark, in the best way possible.

Can you describe your songwriting process?
It hasn’t really changed much over the years. Anyone who’s listened to Ween knows that my signature style is pretty simple. I like writing songs that aren’t literal, that can be can be interpreted by a child and an old man alike.

I’m very influenced by the Beatles. I really place an emphasis on the melody and oftentimes have a chord progression played over and over instead of concentrating on words, making sure that the melody that fits in with the timing that I want. Once you have a good melody and a simple—or complex—guitar part, things just take off from there.

You know, I learned how to write a bridge 15 years ago, thanks to Andrew Weiss, our producer. Before that, in any given song, I’d pretty much play the same pattern over and over.

One more thing: I really play by ear, and I just fuck around on guitar without really knowing what I’m doing. I don’t worry about labeling what I’m playing, like if it’s a Bm7 to E progression or whatnot. Instead, I just come up with cool chords that sound great together—again, never very complex, though a lot of the songs I like, from Yes to Slayer, do get more complicated.

YouTube It

Aaron Freeman, post-Ween, plays unplugged in Chicago.

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