His brother Josiah played drums at worship service as a tot, dominated Concert Band as a teen, and fell in love with the compositions of Thelonious Monk on his way to University of Cincinnati’s music conservatory. Doug McDiarmid would eventually get expelled from UoC for carrying a stun gun, but was first conceived by two French teachers and taught piano while in kindergarten. He went to high school with the Wolfs, where he played in Steve Miller cover bands. In various permutations together and with other now-notables (Dose One, Odd Nosdam, Mr. Dibbs, Slug), these three created and/or contributed to a number of freewheeling rap and lo-fi bedroom-rock related projects, some still unexcavated: Miss Ohio’s Nameless, Apogee, Greenthink, Reaching Quiet, and the now seminal cLOUDDEAD. Their wildest dreams were achieved when they relocated to the West to make pop-inflected psychedelic folk-hop.
Yoni was the first to make the move. For four years, two EPs and one color-drenched album (2003’s Oaklandazulasylum), WHY? was his alone. He honed his trademark delivery—that sickly sweet, half-rapped, singsong-suicide style—shined up his wry, picturesque poetry on life, love and self, and developed a clip-and-collage composition aesthetic using keyboards, toys, guitars, samplers and anything worth banging on. When Doug and Josiah joined Yoni in Oakland, they brought a hoard of instruments and the ability to wail on every last one of them. By chops and imagination, WHY? grew into a thing of flesh, bones and fully fledged songs. In 2005, the band released Elephant Eyelash, and suddenly that once tenuous future seemed solid. Critics swooned; ladies lauded; WHY? did not rest. They toured (with Silver Jews, Yo La Tengo, and Islands). They collaborated (with Danielson, Department of Eagles, and Subtle; Yoni made Hymie’s Basement with Fog’s Andrew Broder). They put out yet more music (the Rubber Traits EP and “Dumb Hummer” 7-inch). In February of 2007, the trio temporarily relocated to Minneapolis and became five, officially inducting Andrew Broder and Mark Erickson of good-art friendlies Fog into the band, then recording their new work live. As can be expected, Alopecia is a fantastic offering of raw sweat and dreams inspired by nothing more or less than the infinite erring bits of daily existence.-Myspace
"This record is really the least hip-hop out of anything I've ever been involved with." That quote from Yoni Wolf about the follow-up to Why?'s Alopecia gave some fans of the art-rap act reason to pause. Such uneasiness is unwarranted though. Alopecia was also more rock-oriented and was the Anticon. crew's best. During the Alopecia sessions, Wolf and Co. recorded more songs, ten of which compromise Eskimo Snow. Though both albums were recorded during the February 2007 Minneapolis sessions, the Eskimo tracks avoid the segmented recording of Alopecia, for a more "resigned" and "open" sound. Wolf also noted that Eskimo Snow is a "bit more wild, and the drums have more room mics."-~ Kyle Lemmon/Prefixmag