Over the past two hours drummer Claude Coleman Jr. has been taking questions from Redditors as part of the latest Ask Me Anything thread. Coleman, who was the long tenured drummer for Ween before the band broke up and also sits behind the kit for Eagles of Death Metal and his own amandla project, responded to many questions in part to promote the indiegogo crowdsourced fundraiser for the third amandla album.
[Photo via Claude on Reddit]
As you can imagine, the most asked question revolved around Ween’s breakup. Here’s Claude’s response to a question about how he felt about the way the band broke up…
I don’t think it’s any kind of secret how things transpired when Aaron broke the band up. Every one understood the motivation behind the decision, but yea, the way it went down was tad bit abrupt and with little warning. It was like, your wife/husband deciding to break up with you on tv, and your phone blowing up for hours on end with your friends directing you to your husband/wife’s interview where she/he is explaining to someone that they’re no longer your partner, then by the end of the day, it’s on CNN.com. The following day you’re looking at a Spin.com timeline of your 25 year career – it was a bit surreal, a bit harsh, but everyone understands his decisions, and I along with everyone wishes the best for him. Ultimately it was a catalyst for some needed change of direction in my life.
When asked a follow up about Gener and Deaner’s current relationship, he responded:
I honestly can’t speak for their relationship. Bands are like polygamy – almost literally so. Sometimes break-ups need a cool down period. Sometimes they regain companionship – sometimes they’re enemies until the end of time.
What’s Claude’s favorite story from his time in Ween?
I have too many stories competing for the top spot. Mickey’s memory is better than mine. I like the stories involving him, and wrecking cars in the woods, deserting them and running home with sirens blaring across the Delaware valley and having cops show up at his house to chew him out for an hour threatening arrest – then telling how much they love Chocolate & Cheese and letting him off! There’s like a dozen of those – dude has a rock guardian angel over him.
Coleman played in Eagles of Death Metal with Josh Homme and has kind words for the QOTSA front man in response to a question about whether Josh was “a huge dick”:
Josh Homme is obviously a brilliant fucking dude and a pal and the internet is no place to slander a friend – even if he were a dick. Plus the dude is the size of fucking Ohio and would knock a dude out from here to Saturn. I hope he’s not coming for you right now.
Claude also told his origin story of how he first met Deaner and Gener:
I was in a band Skunk, in the early 90’s. Andrew Weiss was our producer, and Andrew was putting out all the early Bird O’ Prey Ween tape releases, consequently to become their/our producer. We did a few shows together, and we all became friends. We had Ween open up for us in our bass player’s basement – it was our label showcase for TwinTone- our A&R guy flew in from Minneapolis, and we had Ween open for us. Just us, and the guy who was signing us to TwinTone. Times were real different!
Ween opened for us, and Dave Ayers signed them pretty much instantly, then and there, he totally got it.
What was the drummer’s favorite period of Ween?
Hmmm there was a period for about 8 years or so, where I literally couldn’t believe I was involved with something so profoundly amazing, on so many different levels; Ween was the best friking band in the world – it was every band in the world – and we got to do it for hours on end in the most circus-like atmosphere that you couldn’t invent. Fans dressed in costumes, followed us everywhere. Maybe up until White Pepper, would be my favoritie period. It was absolutely divine, the insanity and music made. I’ll never, ever forget every demo that would come in when they were doing a new record. It was song after song after brilliant fucking song, just effortless! They would be cracking themselves up at the tracks,. It was so special and unreal. Eventually it became bigger than itself in a way – not any less amazing – just different. Apples and oranges – both succulent fruit if you know what I’m sayin.
You can read all of Claude’s responses over at Reddit.
[Hat Tip – JR Hevron]
[UPDATE 6/25 – 1:30PM ET]: Claude returned to the thread and added a few more thoughts. Most importantly, he dives into his need to crowd source funding for the new amandla album…
I’m crash – landed back in Austin area. Whilst I crack open another frosty beverage and delve back into the hundreds of questions here, I would like to first address this issue my seeking funding through crowd-sourcing means.
There is a lot of misinformation and a lot of presumptuous hubris regarding a subject matter that none of the people questioning the matter seem to have any experience with. I understand some are simply curious which is totally fine, but with a few others, frankly, it’s comes off as insulting and a shortcut to thinking.
As I addressed in this post –http://www.reddit.com/r/ween/comments/1gssm4/hi_i_am_claude_coleman_jr_the_drummer_for_ween/cao47jb – I am a independent, contracted musician, paid by incident, by the gig, by the tour, by the whatever. If there is no incident, there is no income. Ween’s last work was New Year’s Eve, 2011. My last work with EoDM was one gig a month ago. Wow, I really must be rolling in it, huh.
I am familiar with many very, very famous musicians in NY, who are similarly struggling, working the door at clubs, supplementing their lives with whatever they can because they don’t have enough gigs and the work is not steady. I delivered flowers this past Valentine’s day. Picture that.
Notoriety does not equate to wealth – just because your girlfriend knows I’m the drummer in her favorite band, just because I play on big stages…this this does not automatically translate into a viable, sustainable income and a fantasy super-rich lifestyle. It’s fragile, short-lived work that at the end of the day struggles to cover a quarter of a person’s average expenses for a month of living.
Independently contracted musicians are on a completely different economic structure system than songwriters. They’re not on the record contracts. They don’t receive publishing income; the mechanical royalties received on the work they do is a trickle from a flaccid penis.
Currently, I live out of my car, sleeping in a studio control room in a friends home, with no consistent income to speak of, hustling around as I work on other people’s music. I have no complaints at all – I have the wealth of strong spirit and beautiful people in my life. But this is my realty until I get grounded once again after which, I won’t be asking for donations – I didn’t for the first two records I made. But this idea of me needing to sustain some kind of ‘lifestyle’ that I’m now accustomed to from my years of rock stardom is truly, truly absurd.
I acquired a home only through a near-death car accident rendering me in lifelong chronic pain that I’m now going to lose from divorce and a loss of my work with Ween, because I cannot afford to live in it; it faces foreclosure if it’s not sold. It is only because I am so in the red and in arrears with everything and everyone that I’m seeking help to make this record at all, the first time I’ve ever done so – my first two records were paid for my own money. I’m unsigned, unrepresented, and self-funded.
If someone really wants, I can support this argument with tax returns, with contacts of friends who’ve loaned me cash to get heating oil; to put gas in my car to get me to my carpentry gig. Whatever you need to put this issue to bed already.
I’m doing this AMA to promote my efforts to make a record, to meet the fans I’ve played to for over 20 years, in order to help me make more music. I have tremendous love for the people who show me love, even for those who are blindly ignorant to the realities of a life of musicianship. But please take your ignorance of the subject elsewhere so I can focus on connecting with these people that matter to me most, or please try and digest what I’m saying and stop bringing it up. It’s distracting to the fun being had here.
Coleman discusses the hardest songs he’s had to learn from Ween’s original days of Gener and Deaner performing behind a drum machine…
I really appreciate that question, because there are a shit ton of drum machine songs that are more or less absolutely impossible to replicate on a drum set – mickey does that intentionally – that I more or less just approximate to the best of my ability, using great cunning and my devilishly handsom looks! Schetches of Winkle and Reggae Junkie Jew are totally brain busters!
The drummer talks about Deaner and Gener’s role in a potential Ween reunion…
Ok, ok having said that, yes all issues and hopes around the idea of a Ween reunion falls on the heads of those two. They must become friends again, to make music again, and its that simple. It’s not outside of the realm of possibilities.
Like I said, with the proper motivation and energy, you make happen whatever the hell you want to. Everyone – myself included – will have to wait and see.