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Popular Oregon folk band Joseph comes to the Mystic Theatre

PLANNING TO GO?

What: Joseph, in concert with Deep Sea Diver

When: Monday, March 2, 8 p.m.

Where: Mystic Theatre, 21 N. Petaluma Blvd.

Admission: $28 (VIP $99)

Information: MysticTheatre.com

Breaking up is hard to do.

So hard, in fact, that when the Oregon-?based folk-pop band known as Joseph came dangerously close to calling it quits a few years back, they ultimately couldn’t do it. Perhaps some of that is due to the fact that the fan-favorite trio - Natalie Closner Schepman, Allison Closner and Meegan Closner - are sisters, with Allison and Meegan twins. On the other hand, being family and being in a band together brings its own set of challenges.

“People come up to us all the time and say, ‘I could never do it. Not with my brother or sister,’?” laughs Meegan Closner, calling up to chat about Joseph, their new album “Good Luck, Kid,” and their upcoming international tour, which brings them to Petaluma’s Mystic Theater on Monday, March 2. “Friendship in a family can be a complicated thing,” allows Closner. “To be honest, we have worked really hard to push through our family roles. Natalie is four years older than Ally and I. In the beginning, there was a lot of the older sister stuff. She did a really good job of opening the space for us to come up and be an equal with her, and we had to work hard to do that, to grow up and step up to rise to her level. So the family part is just the family part, and then on top of it, we’ve really just worked really hard to stay friends.”

Named for the small town of Joseph, Oregon, Joseph has built a solid following of fans ever since the sisters self-released 2014 album “Native Dreamer Kind.” Attracted in part to the idea of three sisters singing together, but mainly to the band’s smart, razor-sharp lyrics and hook-filled tunes filled with enjoyably unpredictable melodies and catchy, inventive arrangements, Joseph’s fans are faithful, loud and numerous.

With a brand new album, “Good Luck, Kid,” released at the end of 2019, that fan-base is likely to grow even larger.

Asked about who the sisters write their songs for, the fans or themselves, Closner admits that as they’ve grown in popularity, there is sometimes a temptation to give their followers more of what they like the best, but to do that would put at risk the band’s own natural evolution in style. The new record, to that point, has been praised by music writers for demonstrating a profound new depth, maturity and strength, born - at least in part - out of the sisters’ near-miss with ending the band.

“Strength. I like that word ‘strength’ for this album,” says Closner. “This one does feel like it has a lot of strength in it. The girls and I have been through a lot by this point. So in creating ‘Good Luck, Kid,’ we were writing from a deeper well of being friends, and having individual lives. We’re four years older than we were with the last record we released. Four years! That’s crazy! So we’ve definitely, hopefully found some deeper level of maturity and strength. And I think a lot of that comes from our friendship.”

Back to the question of who their songs are written for, Closner has another thought.

“On our first record, ‘Native Dreamer Kind,’ that was really all us, all about us and basically for us,” she says. “With the second record we released, our first with ATO records, “I’m Alone, No You’re Not,” and this new record, we definitely incorporate the audience, in a way. I mean, now we have an audience, and we’re aware of it. We can’t help but be influenced by that, to a degree. But once you know people are listening, it’s too easy to just go, ‘Okay, what do our audiences want to hear? What should we say that will make those specific people feel some impact?’ But every time we’ve tried to write from that place, it’s become kind of preachy and weird. So we’ve had to backpedal. Now we just write for ourselves. That’s ultimately what our audience really wants.”

According to Closner, she and her sisters have been consciously trying not to think about what anyone else expects or demands.

“We just try to write our songs from an honest place in our hearts,” she says. “It can be difficult to do, but it definitely leads to a better song.”

In Joseph, the songs are written by the entire band, with each member taking a crack at penning lyrics or composing tunes, changing it up from song to song. Sometimes, they collaborate with other musicians.

“Honestly, I think we’ve experienced every songwriting scenario you can imagine in creating what we make,” Closner says. “Natalie is the most prolific, out of all of us. She’s the oldest, so she’s been writing music for like, ten more years than the rest of us. She brings 50% of the songs to the table. I might bring a song once in a while, but it’s usually not great right-off-the-bat, the way Nat’s are. Mine take a lot of mutual discussion and finessing after I write them, all of us talking out loud, analyzing what it is I wanted to say and how I can say it better.”

PLANNING TO GO?

What: Joseph, in concert with Deep Sea Diver

When: Monday, March 2, 8 p.m.

Where: Mystic Theatre, 21 N. Petaluma Blvd.

Admission: $28 (VIP $99)

Information: MysticTheatre.com

Allison, she adds, is especially good at melodies and figuring out what Meegan calls, “the heart of the song.”

Some of Joseph’s tunes begin with the melodies, and then the lyrics are added, some the other way around.

“Every song has a different origin story,” she acknowledges. “Every song develops in a different way. I don’t think we’ve ever developed the same song in the same way twice.

Occasionally, a Joseph song might even arise out of thin air.

“We might be doing sound check before a show, and then something just happens,” Closner says. “That’s exactly what was happened this one time, when I was checking my mike, and I just started improvising this melody.” She demonstrates. “Da da da-da, da da-da da doo da da-da. And someone was like, ‘Gasp! Record that! We need to make that into a song!” And that song ended up becoming ‘Room For You,’ which is the last song on our new album.”

But then, she goes on, there are songs like “Fighter,” the first single from “Good Luck, Kid,” which began with a very clear idea.

“In that case,” Closner says, “it was about the relationship between the girls and I, what happened during a particularly bad time - the time we almost broke up the band - and how we wanted to move forward with together. So the song sprung from a specific place, an idea we wanted to explore.”

As is the case with many of Joseph’s songs, the lyrics can be interpreted in a number of ways. “Fighter” could be taken as being about a romantic relationship, or a call for inner strength and self-awareness.

You think you’re keeping the peace

While you creep, creep away from me

You think you’re keeping the peace

Don’t keep yourself from me

Wide eyes, eyes white

I want a fighter

Don’t lie this time

I need a fighter

You’re my bright side

I want it brighter

Don’t leave me in the dark

Don’t leave me in the dark

“Fighter is about us, it’s about how we almost broke up what we created together, because of how hard it is sometimes, because here’s always so much stuff,” she says. “But we’ve done it. We did the work and we’re together, and it’s good. It’s amazing to be friends with each other and also be family. At this point, we are truly closer than ever. And we’re making some of the best music we’ve ever made.”

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