words by Michael Todd | photo by Bridget McQuillan
Yoni Wolf opens the next WHY? album with a bit of recovery: “When I got better from the mumps, yes, my swollen neck and nut shrunk / But, though subtle, I can smell distinctly some sick and swollen stink still to this day stays with me.”
So profound was the affliction’s effect on Wolf that the rest of Mumps, Etc., released Oct. 9, is, well, et cetera. Or so the first 36 seconds of “Jonathan’s Hope” would want you to think.
In other words, that isn’t to say Wolf has nothing else important to say. Just as the Cincinnati-born-into-Messianic-Judaism rapper paced The Waiting Room stage on Sept. 6, owning it and running away from it at the same time, his words through headphones could just as well been spoken from a psychiatrist’s couch. Thing is, Wolf is the enigmatic attention-stealer who batted away our question asking if social media helps broaden a fanbase with the response, “I’ve been able to have sex with a couple of girls from the internet at times, which is nice.”
As we awkwardly laugh on the back porch of Krug Park, interviewer Steven Ashford says, “You’re not too shy about it?” and bandmate Liz Hodson, after motioning the “cut that part of the interview” signal says, “There’s not much he’s shy about.” While Wolf and his music in WHY? like to put it all out there, what they don’t want is an unfinished product reaching listeners' ears. Mumps, Etc. made it past the gates to the masses through a leak of an earlier test version of the master, weeks before it was set to drop.
“That I don’t like,” Wolf says, and even his tiny, striped Indiana basketball shorts can attest to the seriousness of that statement:
Interview by Steven Ashford
Edited by Chevy Anderson
Michael Todd is Hear Nebraska's managing editor, a proud one at that for the collaborative effort on this story. The last time he leaked anything, well, let's not talk about it. Reach him at email@example.com.