BAIT AND BULLETS Captain Dean Ween

 

“There’s room for my
life for both things to coexist”:
the
Ween guitarist talks about being a registered sea captain, and more.

 

BY RANDY HARWARD

 

“I must be givin’ off the impression [that I want to quit
Ween],” says Dean Ween – or rather, Captain Dean Ween. Interviewers, he says,
seem to believe his new gig doing fishing charters – as a real-deal sea
captain! – is a career change. “I’ve been a fisherman my entire life. I’ve put
in as much time on the water as anybody out there. Just because nobody is aware …”

 

So no, he’s not abandoning Ween for life on the high seas.
He treats music and fishing the same, doing just enough of each so that neither
becomes a drag. “And why the hell would I wanna stop playing music? I have the
greatest job in the world. I’m in a band and I get paid to play fucked up
music.”

 

BLURT angled for specifics about Cap’n Deaner’s other
greatest job in the world, and discovered what happens when Ween weirdness and fishing
collide. Suddenly, a fishing trip, if it wasn’t your bag to begin with, sounds like
a helluva good time – with or without the dude from Ween. Go to his official
website (the, fishing guide one, not the Ween one) for lots more details, plus
some pretty awesome catch photos.

 

***

 

 

BLURT: Other than the
obvious, doing it for a living, what are the perks of being a sea captain?

 

DEAN WEEN: [laughing]
I think it’s a healthy lifestyle. For me, anyway.

 

Chick magnet?

 

No. Not at all. We were talkin’ about that the other day,
how we’re gonna make a calendar. Like, the main bait that we fish with is
bunker. It’s like the nastiest, oiliest bait fish. Pretty much everything in
the ocean feeds off bunker-or menhaden. So we’re thinking of doing this
calendar: Bunker Bitches. Just the
horrible women that you see fishin’, the grossest, most vile, fuckin’… I don’t
know if anyone would buy it.

 

What’s the weirdest
thing you’ve pulled from the depths?

 

You know in Jaws and
they open up the shark and there’s fuckin’ license plates and shit? And they
go, ‘Oh, he came out of the Gulf ‘cause there’s a Louisiana tag’? There’s all
sorts of debris that comes up all the time. I fish in Jersey, so I see a lot of
medical waste. But nobody would tell you that’s weird. It’s actually so
commonplace. [laughs]

 

What is it, like
biohazard containers?

 

Yeah, stuff like that. You see a lotta syringes and fuckin’
rubbers, and you know, someone saw something the other day and grabbed it, then
he realized what it was, like an IV bag or something.

 

Sick. Now they’re
gonna have a new special on the Discovery Channel about the AIDS shark.

 

The further you get away from the city, the better. We’re
down far south enough that it’s not as bad. But if you fish up north in Sandy
Hook… you see a lot more of it. Fishin’-wise, we had a thresher shark a couple
weeks ago, which is pretty incredible. That’s a real shark; that’s not like
some pussy-ass shark. Right now there’s all this hype goin’ around in Jersey
like there’s so many sharks this year, around the beaches. One washed up
yesterday and one the day before.

 

People get freaked out by any shark that has teeth. But the
fact of the matter is these are just your garden variety sharks. They’re always
around. Every summer, they’re always there, where you swim. There’s not a
chance in Hell they’re gonna bite somebody. It’s just not gonna happen. There’s
sharks and then there’s, like, real
sharks.
Tiger sharks, thresher sharks, mako sharks, great white sharks… But
yeah, we hooked a thresher shark only in about sixty feet of water, maybe,
2-1/2 miles off the front beach. We were striper fishing and I saw its tail
come out of the water right behind the boat where our live baits were at. Then
like five seconds later, I thought the pole was gonna snap in half.

 

We were tied into the thresher shark for about an hour and
forty minutes. The sun went down, we were out there, it was total Jaws shit, gettin’ dragged around by a
fuckin’ gigantic thresher shark.

 

Did you land it? Or
did you have to cut it loose?

 

No, not really. We didn’t have the gear to land it. I mean,
you shoot it. That’s how you land a shark. I’m serious! You get it boatside and
you fuckin’ shoot it. You know. We would’ve needed two gaffs, guns… We got it
boatside a couple times, then he broke us off. I don’t know what we would’ve
done with him, anyway. Like drag him back and have a crane lift him out by his
tail? I have no interest in any of that shit.

 

So how big was it?

 

Oh, it was probably six feet of shark, but six feet of tail.
Yeah.

 

I’ve got Shark Week
on the brain-

 

– I’ve been watching shark shit on TV, too.

 

Have you ever seen
sharks jump out of the water, like on Air
Jaws
?

 

Yeah! Makos will do that. Makos and threshers-but when
they’re hooked. But I’m not-with all due respect to the shark fishermen out
there, but… I have a fascination with sharks, like anybody does, you know? When
we have an opportunity to go after them, we do. Especially in the summer months
when they’re around, when the water’s warm enough. But tournament shark fishing
is big-money shit.

 

Is there a legendary Big
One you’re chasing? What would be your dream catch?

 

 Yeah, I mean there
are benchmarks I wanna hit. I live on the Delaware River. I don’t do as much
guiding on the river now, because I enjoy the ocean a lot more. I was doin’
both before. Now I’m doin’ mostly the ocean; I only do the river about a month
a year. But yeah, I wanna catch a five-pound smallmouth on the river. I’ve had
a bunch over four, but five is like – it would go on my wall. A fifty-pound
striper, striped bass, somethin’ like that. These are pretty common goals among
people who fish this area a lot.

 

Have you ever had a
charter take a turn for the weird?

 

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. That is pretty common because most of my
charters are Ween fans that are charterin’ me. There’s a lot of novice
fishermen in there, which is great. People do it for different reasons, though.
There’s some people that are mildly into fishing and then I get some people who
just wanna spend the day with the dude from Ween and ask a buncha dumb
questions. And that’s fine. I’m totally professional about it; I’m used to that
and I can handle it. I don’t even have a problem with it – I’m realistic. But
they might read this so I don’t wanna be too specific. But oh yeah, I get I get
fuckin’ creeps and weirdos and scumbags and…ugly girls… [laughing] You don’t know who you’re getting ‘til you’re at the
boat. Then they’re standin’ there and you’re fuckin’ stuck. Uh-oh.

            I get
people that are just dicks. Not like, yellin’ at me dicks, but I had a couple
guys last year, it was like bein’ in Seinfeld or somethin’. Two really older, creepy, cynical people. Everything was
sarcasm and bitterness all day. I’m thinkin’ to myself, You paid me all this money to take you out for seven hours on a boat…  and everything was negative the whole time. It
was like, okay… I should be charging more. You’re under the sun with birds
chirping and blue-green water, blue sky… It was just that level of venom. They
were New Yorkers, by the way. Total fuckin’ New York shit, man.

 

God forbid it
happens, but you know the sea captain’s cliché, the wooden leg? Should you lose
your leg, how would you like it to happen and what type of wood would you
choose for a prosthetic?

 

[laughs] Oh, god.
I don’t know about the leg part, but your hands are totally at risk. There’s a
bar that we drink at in Point Pleasant. That’s right where the entire
commercial fleet goes out. It’s called The Broadway. It’s kind of famous. It’s
been there a long time. It’s a fishermens’ bar. And there’s a club there called
The Nine Digit Club ‘cause all those commercial guys are missin’ fingers.
They’re all long-liners and draggers and shit like that. If you’re filleting
fish every day and you’re workin’ with fuckin’ leader and line and hooks that
are bound to fuck your hands all up? I don’t know how I would get a wooden leg
unless I went overboard and got chopped up by my own propeller. But the hand
thing’s pretty probable.

            It all
comes back to Jaws. That’s the way to
lose it. You want a fuckin’ shark to bite it off.

 

How about a hook for
a hand?

 

A hook would be great. It would be worth losin’ my guitar
playin’ career if I could have a hook because of a shark. Totally. I would
trade it. But only if it was a hook.

 

But you’d make it
work somehow, right?
 

 

Yeah. Maybe. I never understood guys like that, the drummer
from Def Leppard with only one arm. How brave. Just fuckin’ quit. Do everybody
a favor. Just quit so we can get a drummer with two arms that can play well.

       I don’t feel
that way about Ween. I just did an interview before this and I must be givin’
off that impression by doin’ this. He said, “Yeah I guess when you do this for so
long, it becomes a job. And then it’s like, do somethin’ else.” Well, no. I’ve been a fishermen my entire
life. I’ve put in as much time on the water as anybody out there. So for me to transition into doin’ this, just
because nobody is aware that I’ve been doin’ it my whole life…

       I’m very
conscious of the fact that I don’t wanna overdo it and have it be a drag. I’ve
been very careful with Ween the same way over the years. We don’t do anything
we don’t wanna do. We just won’t cooperate with you. We’ll make it so
impossible that you’ll quit in disgust, anybody that pressures us to make any
decisions, we’ll retreat so fuckin’ fast and you’ll get nothing out of us.

       We don’t tour any
more than we want to. We don’t open for bands. We’ve never done that, unless
it’s someone we like that we’d enjoy seeing every night. Even then, we’ve done
very little. I’m the same way with fishing… I do it because I enjoy it. The trick is to steer at
every turn to keep it that way.

       So I’m not
doin’ this because of Ween. Every time I do press, people ask me if I’m moving
away from the one thing to do this full time. Why the hell would I wanna stop
playing music? I have the greatest job in the world. I’m in a band and I get
paid to play fucked up music. There’s room for my life for both things to
coexist. Ween affords us with so much free time. If we’re not out on the road,
we’re just here. You know?

 

[An edited version of
this appeared in the 9th issue of BLURT, which can be purchased
right here.
]

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