Josiah Wolf is the drummer for Why?, an indie band gracing the stage of the Spanish Moon on Oct. 31. Why?’s 2012 tour, which supports their latest release, “Mumps, etc.,” will not only take the band to Baton Rouge, but to places like Zagreb, Croatia and Toulouse, France.
Josiah is the older brother of Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf, who fills the mic with his smart and off-beat rhymes. The clever nature of the group’s lyrics and unique style has garnered them worldwide attention.
Although both the Wolf boys went into music at an early age, each did so at his own pace.
“I guess I was a little more serious about music first, because I went to school for it. Yoni got into recording. But we had another band together before we moved to California,” Josiah said.
That move from their Ohio roots put the Wolf brothers in the Berkley music scene by 2000.
Yoni had used Why? as his stage name since 1997, but he re-purposed the nomenclature into a four piece band in 2005.
The core group is comprised of Josiah and Yoni Wolf, Doug McDiarmid, and Liz Hodson, Josiah’s wife. Since the Wolf family has a majority stake in Why? there could have easily been tension among the members, but Josiah sees the situation as positive.
“Overall, it’s a good thing,” he said. “We’re very close since my wife and my brother are on the road with me. You don’t have to live your life on the phone talking to people who are somewhere else.”
Yoni wrote most of the songs on the “Mumps, etc.” album while recovering from a broken hand and the mumps, which slowed the work pace and also led him to adjust the song topics and album title.
Besides Yoni’s health issues, there were other factors that affected the album’s content. One song, titled “Kevin’s Cancer,” is about the terminal disease of a fan, who Yoni described as “the best listener an artist could ever ask for.”
Although the fan struggling with cancer seemed to have the most contact with Yoni, other band members, including Josiah, were also drawn into exchanges with him before his death.
“He only passed away recently, but the song was written before that. It just came about that way. I emailed him messages. He had a real way about him that inspired us,” Josiah said.
When it was time to record “Mumps, etc.” the whole group collaborated on arrangements to back up Yoni’s lyrics.
“Before Yoni started working on the demos, we got together and went through his poetry. We just sat down and worked on one demo a week,” Josiah said.
For this tour, Why? expanded their four-person group to make an extra dynamic live show.
“This is our biggest band with six of us on the stage. It’s a little more percussion/vocal-heavy. We have two drummers and two female singers on this tour,” Josiah said.
Also, after years together building a fan base, the band has just enough notoriety to get a bit of ‘practical luxury’ on the road.
“We can afford to go out on a bus, which makes it a lot more relaxed,” Josiah said. We’re able to get a full night’s sleep. We just try to play good shows and enjoy ourselves.”
See the bus and the band when Why? plays Spanish Moon on Oct. 31 with Naytronix & The Black Swans. Tickets cost $15 and are available at www.ticketweb.com.
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