Why?

A feast for the ears, but a nightmare for google search, Oakland's Why? kicks off a nearly two-month tour in SF this week. The music is a combination of an infinite number of styles – from hip hop to indie to psych and beyond.

I spoke with Yoni Wolf, Why?'s mastermind, over the phone last weekend about his motivations for playing music and the evolution of the band.

Wolf was raised in Cincinatti as the son of a rabbi. He said his religious upbringing has stayed with him as an "urge inside me to get to the bottom of things," and a "feeling like there is some kind of truth out there to find." And while Why?'s lyrics drift toward the profane at times, it's not rare to feel as if you're getting a dose of philosophy. The dizzying shift in point of view is demonstrated perfectly in "The Hollows."

[audio:http://www.anticon.com/pr/The_Hollows.mp3]
Why? - "The Hollows"

Why? has steadily built a base of enthusiastic fans with their prolific output. Their popularity reached a high after the release of their last album Elephant Eyelash in 2005. Wolf said that as the band's popularity grows, the process adapts to suit it.

"It can't help but change the way you think about what you're doing in a way,” he said. "With each record, I become a little more aware of what I am trying to communicate."

Keeping the older Why? in mind, there's a pretty clear shift with the latest album, which Wolf acknowledged as being true. It's somehow more aggressive.

"I was allowing anything to come through without holding back," he said.

Prior to pressing the new album, the band released a cover of The Cure's "Close to Me" as a free download for a limited time. Wolf said there was originally no intent to release the cover, but that it just happened.

"I go through periods where a song sticks out to me," he said, "and I listen to it over and over; dance in my bedroom like a girl in a teen movie or something." Perhaps without realizing it, fans were getting a sneak peak at the mood that permeates the band's forthcoming release – dark, complex, compelling.

Though none of the three core band members seems to have any problem with losing hair, the new album is titled Alopecia, and comes out next Tuesday, March 11th on Anticon.

Why? will play at the Great American Music Hall tomorrow with Dose One, Cryptacize, DJ Odd Nosdam and DJ Jel. 9pm, $13.