MidPointMusic: great presentation with @topicdesign at the AMA luncheon Friday. enjoyed the folks we met and learned much!
Josiah Wolf, like his younger brother and WHY? bandmate Yoni, has never been able to escape the call of music. His father, a Cincinnati rabbi, taught him drums at the age of 9, so that curly-haired kid could provide the backbeat for worship service. Later, he’d dabble in darker arts (i.e. grunge) and fall in love with the hard bop of Thelonious Monk on his way to the University Of Cincinnati’s music conservatory. In college, the Wolf boys made fast friends with then-unknowns like Doseone and Odd Nosdam. The formative Greenthink experiments eventually led to the legendary cLOUDDEAD trio, and Josiah coproducing the group’s “JimmyBreeze” 10-inch. It hadn’t previously occurred to Josiah to write or sing, but Yoni’s outsider M.O. spurred him on, resulting in 2003’s lo-fi and long out-of-print The Josiah EP. Inspired, he moved out west to become an integral part of WHY?’s rebirth as a full band. In 2006, he bought a guitar and began to teach himself Silver Jews songs in secret. Unbeknownst to even his brother, he took vocal lessons and practiced several hours a day, hoping to coax out the voice he’d always known was there. The lyrics came, and the music too. His obsessive dedication took place between tours, and on them as well – on a week-long stay in Berlin with WHY?, he’d escape to an old graveyard each day in order to play. For nearly three years, Josiah honed the songs that would make up his LP debut. In November of 2008, he settled into a cottage in the woods outside of Cincinnati, ditched the click track and recorded his songs raw. All that lush instrumentation – drums, bass, organ, piano, bells, marimba, vibes, shakers, etc. – came later, recorded to the music’s naturally elastic tempo. In working on the record, Josiah hardly saw another person. Instead, he saw snow, trees, big skies and an old stove burning the wood he’d collected while walking the property.