Joseph is a band of three sisters from Portland, Oregon, whose new album Good Luck, Kid (ATO Records) has garnered critical acclaim from a variety of media outlets and whose single “Fighter” has moved up the Billboard AAA charts. By phone, Natalie Schepman, Meegan Closner, and Allison Closner discussed the new album, working with producer Christian “Leggy” Langdon, and nearly breaking up the band.
Glide Magazine: How do you think the new album is different than previous recordings?
Natalie Schepman: It’s funny because I didn’t think people were going to say it was different when we finished it. To us it felt like a natural progression sonically. We have been getting a lot of people saying it’s different. Thematically we realized the last album, I’m Alone, No You’re Not, was this moment of sitting in your feelings and a lot of self-talk. This album is very activating. There are all the feelings. Now you’re in the driver’s seat. Sonically, it’s a broader dynamic palette.
Meegan Closner: I think why it feels like a natural progression to us is because of our live show we were doing by the end of the last record cycle for I’m Alone, No You’re Not was a full band rock-folk show. It felt like a natural progression to become more pop-rock. When we were making it, we were thinking about the live show and what we wanted it to feel like.
Glide Magazine: You mentioned the themes. When did you notice you had some themes you were building on, and how did that affect the album?
Allison Closner: We ended up working with this creative director named Patrice Lighter. We gave her the record and were talking with her about what we wanted to do. It really wasn’t until after talking with her that she was like, “Do you realize you have six references to driving on this record?” Natalie said, “If I had known that, maybe I wouldn’t have put so many on there.” That become a big thing for us when Patrice unearthed that for us. That was after the album was already done. We put the songs together more by feel – just that we sensed these songs needed to be together. Patrice had a bird’s-eye view. She wasn’t looking at it like we were.
Glide Magazine: Sometimes it helps to have that outside voice. What did Christian Langdon bring to the album that it might not have had otherwise?
Natalie Schepman: Leggy is one of those galactic human beings that creates things. What we bring to the table is singing and songwriting. When we hire a producer, we’re really hiring another part of the band who is such a key player. The way we did it with Leggy, which was different than how we’ve done it in the past, we gave him all of the demos. Then we would leave and come back to his studio and he would have put together a vibe or a rough draft. His rough draft would be a lot of people’s final draft. He’s phenomenal and a perfectionist. We would sit on the couch and listen and close our eyes and take it in. We would edit from there. This feels like this song. This part doesn’t feel like this song. We were basically the editors, and he created this landscape for us that was really exciting.
Glide Magazine: Do you think you’ll work with him again?
Natalie Shepman: We would definitely work with him again.
Allison Closner: The first person we ever recorded with is a guy named Andrew Stonestreet. When we recorded with him, he created this space that was magical or spiritual. It felt like we were able to be absorbed in the music as we were recording. Since then we’ve been looking for producers that can bring that same energy and atmosphere. Leggy did that a million percent. It felt like we were able to record our vocals precisely. Also we were able to cry while we were singing it and laugh. Not every producer offers that, so it was pretty special.
Glide Magazine: “Fighter” is about how the band nearly broke up. How close did you come to breaking up, and what would you have done if you had broken up?
Natalie Schepman: We come from a family with a style of communication that’s grin and bear it and hide it under the rug for far too long. Doing what we’re doing, you just can’t do that. We had years of stuff that had built up and finally exploded one night. I had said in my heart in that moment, “I can’t do this like this anymore.” It’s funny that you ask because I have asked myself this question. The album was already written at that point. It probably would have been some creepy thing in the middle of touring if we hadn’t worked it out.
Allison Closner: I don’t even want to think about it. It would have been so brutal. We’ve been able to walk into this album cycle in celebration and excitement. We’ve all been very clear in our relationships and we all feel very resolved.
Glide Magazine: It’s nice to know that you worked through that.
Allison Closner: I think we had to work through it. Plus, being siblings, there’s never a time where I want things to go unresolved. We’re family for life and we’re going to see each other at Christmas. It wouldn’t have been worth it to not work through it. I don’t want Christmas to be awkward for the rest of our lives.
Glide Magazine: What would you be doing if you weren’t making music?
Allison Closner: I quit college right before starting this band. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Since being in this band, I understand a little more what I enjoy doing besides music. I didn’t even know I enjoyed doing music until I got into this band. That feels lucky. Something I’ve become really interested in is – I’ve developed a few auto-immune diseases – I’ve been really interested in naturopathic medicine. I think if I weren’t doing this, I’d be involved in some naturopathic field of study.
Meegan Closner: I think I would be working on an organic farm or working at a local place, having a garden, and working at a farmers market. I love that kind of stuff. So basically making no money.
Natalie Schepman: If I couldn’t be doing a band, I decided yesterday that I would want to be one of the co-writers we worked with and have a studio. I guess that’s still music. I honesty don’t know what I’d be doing if I weren’t making music. I can’t think of anything else.
Good Luck, Kid is available everywhere. Check the band’s website for tour dates.