It’s our pleasure to help Shawna and Keifer Thompson, better known to their fans as Thompson Square, welcome to the world the arrival of little Cooper, their newborn son. Taken along on this gestational journey, all their Thompson Square fans, including moi, has shared personal moments throughout as they eagerly awaited his arrival.
— thompson square (@thompsonsquare) January 24, 2016
For those not familiar with this country music duo, Thompson Square is one of country music’s most loved couples and one of only a few that are duets. Their musical talent began in Nashville as they both came to town to pursue a music career. Immediately smitten with Shawna, Keifer knew she was the one. At a recent show at Kegs Canalside in Jordan, NY, Keiffer took a moment to speak with NYS Music about their pregnancy, musical journey, and upcoming album.
Kathy Stockbridge: Hi Keifer, so excited to be welcoming you and Shawna back to New York again. You both have been together and performing together now for several years however your careers started as individual artists. Explain the journey a bit to those that may not know the story.
Keifer Thompson: Hey there, well we moved to town obviously not knowing each other as individual artists doing our own thing. We dated three years and then were married three years before we decided that this was not what we wanted. We wanted to be together all the time, so that is when Thompson Square was formed and that’s when everything started taking shape for us.
KS: Some things are just meant to be.
KT: That is true.
KS: Do you both come from musical families?
KT: Shawna does, I do not. There is actually no musical talent at all in my immediate family.
KS: What drew you in that direction?
KT: Well my grandmother was a poet and a writer and sometimes a singer. I think I got everything I have from her.
KS: So, what were some of your early influences in music as you were growing up?
KT: It’s all rooted in traditional country music. For me, my first exposure was Elvis, and Roger Miller , and all the traditional music. For Shawna and I both, we had siblings that exposed us to 80’s rock and roll as well, but really we love everything, every genre.
KS: I can tell, you’ve got this rock and roll edge to your music.
KT: Yeah we definitely lean more towards that than anything else.
KS: Can you give the readers a timeline perhaps of you coming to Nashville and your journey to today?
KT: We met in Nashville the very first week we were there. We were doing our own individual things . We met at the Nightlife in 1996, it’s kinda like a Nashville version of a karaoke bar. They have a live band, they play whatever song you want, so you get up and sing. So we met there and I hit on her the first night. I had been dating someone else at the time for about five years and had broken it off when I moved from Oklahoma to Nashville. I knew it wasn’t the right one for me, and at the time wasn’t planning on finding my wife, much less the mother of our children, but God works in mysterious way you know. We were performing together in the house and I would play down on Broadway and she would come in and sit in with my band on the weekends. I think we were too close to it at the time to see that what we had we extremely special (the singing together). It was just unique and sounded different than everyone else. But that wasn’t why we started Thompson Square. Thompson Square was formed out of necessity to be together all the time.
KS: And congratulations to you both on your wonderful news on the baby. I am so excited for you guys. Loved how you announced it to your fans on Instagram as well. How did that come about?
KT: Yeah we were trying to figure out how we would announce it. I just happened to pick up a can of Diet Coke one day that said “Dad” on it. And then we thought that might be a good way of telling our fans. You don’t want to go over the top with it. We wanted it to be organic and real, and that’s how it was.
KS: (and just so you know, they were not drinking the sodas…just using them as props)
KS: I think it was really cool that you wanted to share this with your fans. Some people in the business like to keep their private lives very private, but you guys shared this with all those that love ya’ll.
KT: Because the fans are a huge part in our being where we are, we’ve grown with our fans, and we now know what our fans want from us and yes that’s the music, but we also are one of a few married couples doing this so they want to know what’s going on with us as much as a couple as they want to know what’s going on with our music.
KS: Yes, it’s a connection, the personal relationship we have with a musician, knowing them not only as a performer but on a personal level that forms that connection and following. They like your music, but also as individuals. So thank you for sharing an insight into your personal lives as well as professional lives.
KT: Thank you. KS: Now you spend a lot of time on the road touring, do you plan on taking the little one with ya and what are you most excited about having him out on the road with ya?
KT: Yes, I think just discovering the whole thing as it unfolds as it will be a totally new experience for us. We have no idea what to expect, this little one will be extremely well traveled.
KS: Yes, he will have a jetset life? Will you be decking the tour bus out for him?
KT: Yes, we’ve been talking about that. We’re taking all the advice in and deciding for ourselves what’s best for our situation. I don’t know, I’m just really excited about the whole experience and meeting him. Our whole lives have been music, and we just got to a point where we knew we didn’t want music to rule every aspect of our lives. We love it, but we also didn’t want to miss out on kids and family and that whole aspect of our lives. We didn’t want to turn 60 or 70 years old and regret not having children and a family. Those are the things, those life decisions, that when you get out of your 20’s you kinda start looking at things a little bit different. And thank God for it as we are so excited about the whole deal, it’s going to be a really cool process.
KS: I love it! There is nothing like it. In fact when I was pregnant I found myself singing to my son all the time before he was born. Do you find yourselves doing that yet?
KT: Yes, and in fact we have started dabbling in writing some nursery rhyme stuff, and it’s really been interesting to see how we’ve changed as far as we’ve never had these emotions or influences before where we’re simplifying our lyrics and talking to him as though he’s already here with us. It’s a whole different thing, but it’s so very cool. KS: Cravings. I would be remiss to not ask Shawna what she’s been craving. And as far as that goes, the husband ends up going through this pregnancy thing as well, are you craving anything?
KT: She’s craving sleep. Haha. She went through the whole pickle thing in the beginning, but it wasn’t crazy combination things, it was just pickles but then she didn’t want meat she wanted only carbs, which we’ve heard is pretty common among new moms. We’ve been really lucky, she hasn’t been sick, she hasn’t had any complications at all so we’re really thankful for that as that would make traveling almost impossible.
KS: Now you guys happen to be working on a third album. What can your fans expect from this next album?
KT: The only way I can describe it is, it’s pure Thompson Square. Whatever you think Thompson Square is, that’s what this one is going to be. And then there will be some surprises along the way too. We took a little shot in the dark with Trans Am and that’s a huge part of who we are, that rock style, the edge, and it really connected with our fans, but not in every way we needed it to, to sustain itself. That song really didn’t work the way we wanted it to and the way a lot of our fans wanted it to, but you live and you learn. You try things and sometimes they fail, and sometimes you win. So we’re kinda at that stage right now where we’re going back into the studio. We’ve cut about 6 or 7 things that we really love. And we’re getting back to the woodshed, as they say, and we’ve cut some amazing stuff. Sometimes you don’t loose site of who you are as an artist or a person, but sometimes you want to expose a bit too much, too soon. As an artist you want to grow, you want to do things different, you want to experiment, and you want to do all these things and a lot of times that’s just for you. Your fans grow with you and they love you for what you’ve done and who you are, but as artists we can get away from that. If it was up to us, from album to album they would be vastly different. That’s been the demise of some artists,s but it’s also been hugely successful for some artists. For us, I think Trans Am was so different from what we’ve done in the past so it was a little bit shocking for everybody, and I’m not sure everybody even knew it was us. Shawna didn’t have a huge presence not that record, and you can analyze it to death…
KS: If I could interject here…I think artists are progressive. Used to be years ago a label would sign an artist and then nurture them through several albums to get the sound they would be known for. Today it’s not the same and so I give you credit for being true to who you are and what you want to sound like. Not all labels are receptive to that.
KT: We are blessed as artists and fortunate to have a label that doesn’t push us in one direction. They pretty much let us do what we want. Perhaps that’s because they haven’t had another married couple duo so they don’t have any benchmarks to look at and say, “hey that worked for them so it will for you”. It’s kinda unchartered territory. So we are very thankful. Ya know, every song can’t be a hit, and until you get to the level where everything you put out charts and is a hit… and we all want to get to that place.
KS: Do you write your own music. KT: Yes we write almost all of it. We’re just going to keep putting our heart into it, and releasing songs we believe in and we’re just going to keep doing our thing.
KS: So covering the Taste of Country Music Festival is where I first saw you both for the first time and you blew my socks off. Talk to me a little about that last set where you joined the legendary Hank Williams Jr. on the stage.
KT: I can’t express what big fans we are of Hank Williams Jr. and what a big deal that was for us. We actually do one of his songs just about every night in our show. But yeah, that was a huge deal for us. He asked us to come join him and hang out on his bus and visit a little bit and get to know him. That was a big deal. I don’t consider him a peer, I consider myself his student. He’s definitely done just about everything a person can dream of in their career. So yeah, we were really proud of that.
KS: I think the lineup that day was the perfect combination as well. We had you guys, with Tyler Farr, and Hank Williams Jr. Yeah, that was the best. Now if you were asked to do a CMT Crossroads with anyone…who would you choose to collaborate with?
KT: I would lean towards the Boss and the E Street Band. We’re both huge Springsteen fans. But that list is huge. It could be Foo Fighters, Black Keys, Tom Petty, Springsteen, I mean Double Trouble would be amazing.(Stevie Ray Vaughns Band) there are countless people as we are huge music fans. We are definitely students of music so we have a list that would go on and on in that regard.
KS: Well heck if that ever happens, let me know and NYS Music will be there to cover for you.
KS: Thank you so much Keifer for taking the time to talk with us and we can’t wait to welcome you back to NY.
As I ended the interview and then covered the show the following evening at Kegs Canalside, I noted the chemistry of this couple was absolutely electric. Their mutual respect for each other’s talents musically and as husband and wife, gives a whole new level to their music and stage presence. I feel that this part of them that they share with their audience opens them up and gives them a vulnerability that many artists don’t have. The fact that they continue to experiment musically and develop their sound as it moves them, is just another testament to me that they are the cutting edge of country music today. NYS Music is excited to welcome with Keifer and Shawna their new addition to the group, and can’t wait to hear the new album once it’s been released. [FinalTilesGallery id=’591′]