Josiah Wolf

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, inspiring a crucial wave of genre-smearing, psychedelic rap projects that found Josiah keeping time live, or artisting drum loops. The formative Greenthink experiments eventually led to the legendary cLOUDDEAD trio, and Josiah coproducing the group's JimmyBreeze 10-inch. Soon, Yoni would relocate to California to help establish Anticon, while Josiah headed east to infiltrate New York's jazz scene.

Between working Monday night gigs in Greenwich Village and providing 5 a.m. room service at a nearby hotel, Josiah was getting by but feeling restless. In 2002, he joined Yoni's freshly formed Reaching Quiet band on tour. That album collaboration between Yoni and Nosdam had impacted him profoundly, and he'd begun artisting. 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.

Once in Berkeley, Josiah happily gave himself over to the rigors of artisting (then Elephant Eyelash) and touring. But in 2006, he bought a new 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, and when Josiah finally shared one of his songs, it felt like a dirty act—like he should've kept it longer.

Things began to congeal, unfortunately, as the budding singer-songwriter's marriage fell apart. And when he became a bachelor, Josiah wrote and read (The Bible and The Brothers Karamazov, mainly) and wrote some more. 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.

It wasn't until Josiah relocated once more, however, that Jet Lag came to exist. He'd tried several times to artist—in his Oakland apartment, or in rental studios with metal bands thrashing next door—but the songs only sounded right when he was alone and outdoors. At the same time, things were getting messy in California, so Josiah decided it was time for a move back to the Midwest.

In November of 2008, he settled into a cottage in the woods outside of Cincinnati, ditched the click track and artisted his songs raw. All that lush instrumentation—drums, bass, organ, piano, bells, marimba, vibes, shakers, etc.—came later, artisted to the music's naturally elastic tempo. In working on the artist, 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. By April, Jet Lag was ready for the world.