Don’t let their name fool you. Joseph is actually a band comprised of three sisters who hail from the Pacific Northwest. We actually talked to them back in 2015, and you can read that here, but a lot has happened since then. Last year, the band released a new album, You’re Alone, No You’re Not, to much critical acclaim. They are currently touring in support of it, which has already included some late night show appearances, as well as a stint alongside Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. I had the chance to sit down with the Closner sisters backstage at Hangout Festival. They had plenty to talk about, including that run with Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, their new album, and their experiences at Hangout Festival.
What do you think of Hangout Festival so far?
Natalie: It’s so amazing!
Meegan: I’m just waiting for the oysters.
Allie: Freaking out!
Wait, they have oysters backstage?
Meegan: Yes, oysters on the half shell at 4 p.m.
Alright, we’ll you’re going to have to lead me here again.
Natalie: Just stay. Don’t leave.
Have you ever been to this area of the gulf coast, either personally or on tour?
Natalie: No, it’s our first time here. The thing that’s so cool about this, is that it’s so totally different here than anywhere else.
Tell me about it. The humidity is no joke.
Allie: I love it!
Alright so back to Joseph. Your set was great by the way! Natalie, you’re the catalyst of this band. Story has it that you weren’t liking your solo work.
Natalie: Well…. Yeahhh. Basically yes.
So you recruited your sisters to form what is now Joseph. Was there ever a time where you reached out to anyone else? I mean, if you weren’t liking your solo work, why was keeping it in the family your first instinct?
Natalie: Oh, that’s a good question!
Allie: Nobody’s ever asked that.
Natalie: I had a hunch about them. I had heard them singing to the radio when we were kids.
Allie: Rascal Flatts
Natalie: Yes, Rascal Flatts primarily. They were in a play in high school, rather a musical, and I was really impressed. And they were just working in Seattle at the time. Meegan was working at a grocery store, Allie was working at a coffee shop, and I kind of knew I could snag them. I knew that if I showed them the vision it was going to be incredible. The first time that we worked on something, I knew that it was going to be great.
Okay, so flipping to Meegan and Allie. Was it a tough decision to give up whatever you had going and form this band?
Allie: We didn’t know what we were saying yes to, and were weren’t really doing anything then. So we were like, yeah sure, we’ll sing backup for some songs.
Natalie: At first Allie was like, ‘yeah I can’t make it to the show tonight’. They didn’t have any idea what it meant to be in a band. I had to take them no shows and be like, ‘this is what a band looks like’.
Meegan: We didn’t really go to shows. We went to two shows growing up. One of them was Rascal Flatts. We never really went to shows. Actually the first band you [Natalie] took us to was Eisley, which is a band of sisters.
Sister bands, or more largely all female bands, are in right now. It’s so cool.
Natalie: Yes! I wasn’t trying to follow a trend though. I just happened to have sisters that were impactful. It’s pretty cool.
You’ve thrown around Rascal Flatts a couple of times already. Have they influenced any of your music?
Natalie: Well, not anymore.
Allie: I think we learned how to harmonize with them. They taught us how to do runs and have agility. I’m not kidding.
Meegan: They have the formula. Our favorite song has so many of the elements of their songs. Like, it kind of starts out slow then it ramps up and hits you in the face. So maybe. Maybe Rascal Flatts is why we are the way we are.
I had to ask about them because it doesn’t seem to farfetched given that you are opening for Tim McGraw and Faith Hill next week.
Natalie: Yes! That’s true. That’s true.
Allie: Totally random.
Yeah, that’s along the lines of what I was thinking. How did that happen?
[collective mumbles and confusion]
Collectively: We actually don’t know.
Natalie: From what we’ve heard….
Allie: No that’s all hearsay. We’ve heard a reason for what kind of band they were looking for, but we actually don’t know if any of that is true.
So… Do they know you’re opening for them?
Meegan: No, they know we’re opening. We don’t know why.
Collectively: We don’t know why. Nobody knows why, but we’re excited!
Who broke the news that this was happening?
Natalie: Our manager.
Allie: He was like, ‘here’s this thing, if you guys wanna do it’. Meegan and I were like, YEEEES! We don’t do country music, but that’s what the two of us grew up listening to. We get to play in the Moda Center, which is where the Blazers play. So why not?
Meegan: Maybe they’ll think we’re like the Dixie Chicks.
Natalie: Well, and that’s why we’re just doing this as a trio. We’re not doing it with a full band, so it’ll feel a little more country.
Are you going to do any country covers? Rascal Flatts?
Natalie: We’ve actually had a lot of people ask us that. Our tour manager was like, you guys should cover “Truck Yeah”.
Allie: Oh my gosh! Rascal Flatts is still on the table.
Back to what you all actually do haha. You just have been touring in support of a new album I’m Alone, No You’re Not.
Natalie: Yep! We released it back in August.
Your first album was self-released. This one was released after landing a record deal. How was the experience different this go around?
Natalie: I think the biggest thing that changed was, well, we refer to our team as having these really long arms that can reach really far. There were things like how we couldn’t even book a 100 capacity venue in our hometown. It’s really hard to break in to playing real gigs. When we wouldn’t hear back from a venue, we’d just play a house gig. And, it was amazing. We wouldn’t change anything. I love that that’s how we got our start. What’s been amazing along the way is all these people that come alongside you and have all this great rapport and all these relationships. And, they share them with you. They opened doors we just couldn’t have ourselves.
I first heard of you all courtesy of Sirius XM.
Natalie: Seriously?! Ah, they’ve been so good to us! They were the first one’s to play “White Flag” actually. How cool is that feeling you get when you hear your song on the radio or see your name on these festival lineups?
Natalie: It’s pretty rad.
Allie: Mind blowing.
Natalie: Well, Ellen [DeGeneres] heard it first on Sirius XM.
Natalie: Mhmm. We played her show not long after.
Allie: And Sheryll Crow! She played on Ellen and said she heard it on Sirius XM. And then Tim McGraw and Faith Hill were on Ellen. She was like, ‘Oh I heard this band Joseph is opening up for you. I love them.’ They had no clue what she was talking about.
Natalie: No, they know who we are. They were just a little dazed that day.
Well, Ellen has a good taste of music. That’s a testament of how good you are if she personally chooses you to appear on her show.
Natalie: I love her. She’s been really cool to us.
You also played The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
Natalie: That was epic. That was our first TV appearance.
The Tonight Show is like the premier late night slots to perform on, but from what I’ve read, Ellen has more influence into the bands her show books, which is almost a truer testament of your success.
Natalie: Yeah, they all have booking agents, but it sounds like with Ellen she’s more involved. She’s so cool. I’m like, how do you even have time for that?
You can answer this one collectively or individually. Five years ago, where were you? Five years from now, where are you going to be?
Allie: So five years ago… That would have been right before we started the band, right?
Natalie: Let’s think about where we were living. I graduated in 2009 so we were living in the house with all the girls. I was living in Portland nannying four children under the age of 4. It was a riot. And yeah, I was recruiting them I guess. Oh no no no.
Meegan: Yeah, it was before that.
Natalie: You’re right. You’re so right.
Meegan: Allie and I were in Seattle. We had just quit college. We were living in a house with six other girls, so eight of us. I was working at a bakery making coffee, which I hope to one day own an espresso machine so I can make my own, even though I don’t drink coffee. I can invite all my friends over and make them lattes. Allie was working at Kent’s Market.
Allie: Yeah, I was working at a grocery store in Seattle.
Meegan: Oh yeah, that right when I went gluten free. I was like, I’m doing it.
Are you still gluten free?
Meegan: Yeah. There was a stint in there where I started eating gluten again, but mostly, I’ve been off of it since 2012.
Allie: Wow, that’s awesome.
Natalie: Okay guys. Five years from now!
Meegan: Somebody’s going to have a baby.
Natalie: Oh no. I don’t want to think about babies. The thing I’m excited about is the next album.
Allie: Probably a baby or two in there.
Natalie: Five years, we’re back here [Hangout Festival] and they’ve created a stage that’s out on the ocean and we’re playing on it.
Allie: Meegan and I will be 31 at that point. That’s ancient. You’ll [Natalie] be 35 at that point.
Natalie: I’ll definitely have some grey hairs. You’re right. I’ll probably have a baby by then. But, we will probably have two more albums by then. Gosh that’s so awesome to think about. It’s going to be so good. I hope it’s going to be a career. We’re going to be like Brandi Carlile. How many albums does she have? Like six albums, seven albums. I want to be someone like that. She can go anywhere. She can play a theater of like 500 to 1200 people and people care. It’s like part of them. That’s what I want.
Allie: I also wouldn’t mind having a couple fun little break into the pop scene kind of songs. I think that’d be so fun.
Meegan: Why not?
Allie: Maybe we’ll have one country song so we can dip into the country scene.
Allie: Maybe we can get a rapper on one of our songs.
The pop scene would love a sister band.
Natalie: What about the pop scene? Are there any sibling bands?
Natalie: But they’re not really pop. They’re like rock. The other band that’s kind of breaking in that scene is Broods. They’re a brother-sister band. Our radio team has been working the Hot AC format [top 40 for adults, less rap and hard rock] and it’s been going pretty well.
Allie: But maybe for this next album we’ll have a really poppy one.
You just need a song with big drops and no melody.
Allie: Maybe we won’t even sing. That’s the formula. You know what song I really like right now? That Julia Michaels song, “Issues”. My friend showed me that song and I thought I’d be the only person who knew about it. Shows how much I know.
Meegan: Radio is interesting. I follow the top 40 on Spotify and there’s artists that just pop in with one song and I’m like, ‘okay, I’ve never heard of this person’. Then they’re gone and you never see them again.
The interview was pretty much over at this point, but Barns Courtney came around the corner and joined the table. Luckily, I was able to chat with him later that day.