Thompson Square Interview: Keifer Talks ‘Indescribable’ Year
You could say Keifer and Shawna Thompson had a pretty decent 2011. Consider what the couple, also known as Thompson Square, experienced in the last 12 or so months: They spent 271 days on the road performing more than 200 shows.Their single, ‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not?,’ was one of the most-played songs of the year on country radio, along with being the iTunes Country Song of the Year. It was also the No. 1 country ringtone for 12 weeks straight.
Thompson Square was the second most-honored act, just behind Carrie Underwood, at the 2011 American Country Awards. They’re up for two Grammy awards next month and ACM New Artist of the Year in April. In the middle of their almost unfathomable breakout year, they also found time to tend to their charities as well as take care of each other, the way husbands and wives must do when life gets a little hectic.
After a brief winter pause, the Thompson Square train starts rolling again this month with the release of ‘Glass,’ the third single from their self-titled debut album. On January 27, they’ll head out on Lady Antebellum‘s Own the Night tour.
Keifer Thompson caught up with The Boot to share what it’s been like to ride this phenomenal wave of success.
Have you and Shawna even begun to process the last year?
It’s a weird deal. On the inside of all it, in this bubble, it’s indescribable. I’ve had a hard time grasping all of it. I mean, it seems like just two days or so after we started, and we’re sitting here now with all these fantastic things happening, things you dream about but never really expect. So to answer your question, we’ve started to process it, started to make sense of it, but it’s hard because as soon as you do, it seems like something new and amazing happens. Our reality right now is really weird, but we’re very happy and so very thankful. We talk about it all the time. We almost can’t believe it’s happening.
Growing up, did you pay a lot of attention to duos? Was it a style of act that you appreciated?
I loved ‘em. Always. The obvious one, the one Shawna and I talk about a lot, is George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Johnny and June Carter Cash, of course. And I’m a big Brooks & Dunn fan, too. It’s not just the husband-wife duets that did it for me over the years.
Does performing together add any stress to the relationship?
We’ve been married 12 years, and as performers, we just feel like we’ve been on a permanent vacation — traveling all around, doing what we love, having fun. It’s work, it can be strenuous, but we think our lifestyle and what we do actually reduces stress in our relationship! [laughs]
Do you get a chance to talk with the veteran country legends? Do they give you advice?
Oh sure. A lot of them tell us the same basic thing: if love what you do, you never work a day in your life. Also, they stress to us that we should never get so caught up in the grind that we don’t enjoy what is happening to us -– that we have to make sure we make time to enjoy it all.
Do you and Shawna still influence each other, or do you tend to work more as one creative force?
We definitely influence each other. Always have, always will. She definitely helped me find my voice over the years, and I think that I’ve helped expose her to music she may never have heard. We were both raised on traditional country music, but I was also very much into lots of other things -– rock and roll, blues, heavy metal — my iPad is all over the map. My rock edge was important in helping us find our sound as a duet.
Has all the success influenced what you write about?
The next record will probably reflect a bit of what has been going on. It’s our life now, so as we craft new things I could see us incorporating some of this new world we’re getting to know.
You must be excited for the Lady A tour.
Absolutely. The tour will be interesting -– a little more rock and pop with Darius Rucker on the bill. But Lady Antebellum, who we really admire, are being incredibly gracious in terms of allowing to use all of the stage, not limiting us to anything. They are just awesome people. We anticipate some very special shows this tour.
A lot of fans will no doubt remember this upcoming tour in years to come. What shows do you remember from way back?
KISS was a huge one for me. The way they entertained, what they did up there -– it was one of the first times I realized this is what I wanted to do, perform for people, all because of KISS! I remember the Cult being very good too, and Tesla –- my sister took me to many concerts. But that KISS show, it still stands out.
Is it true you and Shawna pass a lot of time on the road playing Call of Duty?
[laughs] Yeah! Our merch guy brought out an Xbox and we resisted for awhile, but now it’s what we do all day. It’s crazy. Both Shawna and I are hooked on it.
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