Ween makes a video with the creators of South Park.
Photo and words by Shem Roose
Imagine going to see the concert of one of your favorite bands. Easy enough. Now imagine throughout the entire concert, the band plays the same song for their first set, second set, and encore. This is kind of what seeing the making of a video is like. If you’re really a fan of a band, then you’ll go see them play one of their songs over and over–especially if you can go for free.
I was given the opportunity to watch Ween make the video for the song “Even If You Don’t” from their latest album White Pepper. I arrived on the set early in the morning, and the entire band was already on stage getting ready to start playing and be filmed. There were twenty to 30 production people in the club, including Trey Parker and Matt Stone (cocreators of South Park) who were directing the band, cameramen, lighting, and the guy running the smoke machine. After three or four takes, Trey had everyone feeling relaxed with his laid-back approach and clear ideas on what he needed from each individual.
Dean and Gene Ween have developed a friendship with the creators of South Park over the past few years. Ween contributed a song to the soundtrack for Chef Aid, and they’ve all interviewed each other in Mean magazine. It seemed the next natural step would be for the two creative groups to make a video together. Ween’s last video for the tune “Spirit of ’76” was directed by Spike Jonze, but for some reason MTV didn’t feel it was poppy or flashy enough for the very demanding Total Request Live viewers.
The story idea for “Even If You Don’t” is Dean and Gene bring their girlfriends to a club for a surprise. They walk them blindfolded to a table set with roses, candles, and drinks. As they seat the girls at the table, they remove the blindfolds and rush up on stage to play a song written especially for them. As the band plays, the girls become disinterested, and their wandering eyes get the best of them. The girls periodically leave the table to go to the bathroom, get another drink at the bar, or shake their rumps on the dance floor. In doing so, they begin to flirt with the bartenders and other men in the club. All the while, their men up on stage are playing their hearts out for them. I’m not going to give the ending away, but don’t expect to see Kenny, Cartman, Chef, or Mr. Garrison in the video.
Between takes I had a chance to talk to Matt Stone about snowboarding. Being from Colorado and having snowboarded for many years, he said he looks at TransWorld on flights–actually admitting to only looking at the photos. Dean and I talked about game seven of the Trailblazers versus the Lakers. He was as disappointed as I that Portland lost. Filming went on into the evening, and as the last scene was finished, everyone literally breathed a sigh of relief when the smoke machine was turned off once and for all. Trey invited the whole crew back to his house for a barbecue and assorted mind-altering substances–typical Hollywood scene. What a guy!
So keep a lookout for the new video on MTV, especially if you want to see the ending to this splendid creation by the South Park guys. If you don’t see it, start flooding the TRL hotline and piss off Carson Daly by demanding he play it because it’s better than all the current pop crap MTV plays. And, if you like pop songs, but are unsure about Ween and want more of a lyrical edge, you’ll probably be surprised at how your musical taste buds are changed by “Even If You Don’t.”
Caption: Gene and Dean still smilin’ after all these years.