Husband and wife duo Thompson Square should be no strangers to country music fans and if they are, then where have you been? Get on those streaming sites or Amazon to buy a CD and get listening.
Thompson Square released their third album Masterpiece last year after becoming parents for the first time and having their son heavily influence their writing for the album.
With various hits such as Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About’ , I Got You and number ones Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not and If I Didn’t Have You under their belt, the duo have seen various award wins and nominations including a Grammy nomination.
Thompson Square have never been to the UK and will embark on their first ever UK and Europe Tour in September which includes The Long Road Festival.
We caught up with Keifer and Shauna and as a fan for many years, this was a very exciting interview for me. Shauna and Keifer were lovely and quite frankly, I could have talked about our kids the entire time but that would have been boring for everyone haha.
We can’t wait to see them in September and hope you come along too.
How are you guys?
Keifer: We are good, we are in the middle of a house reservation so you may hear some noise.
So pleased to talk with you as Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About is one of my all time favourite country songs.
Keifer: Oh wow thank you!
I actually saw you perform it in 2014 as part of Darius Rucker and Friends. You also went on tour with him right?
Keifer: Oh yeah that was one of our favourite tours that we have ever been on with him and Lady A. That event is so fun.
You are parents now. Has having Cooper changed you massively as not just people but as artists too ?
Keifer: Becoming a parent really made us aware of what was important. It has taken the music to a whole different level as far as just being inspired by him and becoming this new person in your life, it rearranges your priorities a little more. The inspiration he has given us as writers has really been great. We have written a lot of new songs, several on this Masterpiece record which have been inspired by him somehow. It has been a blast, we are out on the road with him too and he flies with us and is on the bus with us.
Shauna: He is a great motivator. Keeps us going and working hard.
Keifer: It’s not quite the party bus it once was but it has been really fun.
Tell us about the title track to Masterpiece as that was inspired by him wasn’t it?
Keifer: Yeah, the record was finished and I woke up really early one morning and had that title in my head and sat down and wrote Masterpiece. I was trying to think of what my Masterpiece was and that was clearly our son, he is our best work. We went back into the studio and started recording that song and we changed the name of the album to Masterpiece. It was a really organic thing that happened there, it was a lot of fun to be able to get to know that he really inspired the whole album.
What was the album originally going to be called?
Keifer: It was going to be called Life because Life has been crazy over these last three years – it was just a crazy life we were leading with the business and personal. This album encompasses the best and the worst of that three to five years of our life, that’s one great thing about country music and being songwriters in general is writing about what you know, about your true life.
You wrote a book and song Time To Get Dressed, now tell us about that…
Shauna: Our life has been very organic these days and Keifer was upstairs changing Cooper getting ready for the day and he was just about nine months old. I heard him singing a little song “sock sock, one by one” I said “What is that? Is that something your mum sang to you?” And he said “Oh no, I just made it up” I said “You really need to finish that it is super cute”. He did, he came downstairs, grabbed his guitar and finished it literally in probably about 30 minutes or so. We sent it to our manager just to get some feedback and he was like “Oh my gosh, this has to be a kids book, it’s perfect” so we found an illustrator who did an amazing job and the colours are so vibrant and the likeness that she was able to get all the way down to our dog and to Cooper, he is so cute in the book. It was something that we thought we would never be able to do but again, it just happened organincally.
Keifer: Cooper sings the song when he is getting dressed
That is so cute
How is life as an independent artist now? Do you find not being tied to a label it is not just easier for creative freedom but family life too?
Keifer: I think you’re right. I think creatively speaking being an Independent artist this time around after having a record deal for so long and then coming out of a deal, from a creative stand point it has been amazing because we haven’t had to ask anybody what we can record. We have got to do everything on our own and make the music that we have wanted to and it has been a blessing. We have had so much fun making this record because every single song on here is representative of who we are and what we wanted to do and what we wanted to say. It is quite different sometimes when you have a label involved. The interesting thing is our crowds have been growing and without having a record deal and having the terrestrial radio play. They are still playing the old catalogue but for the time being we may have entertained the thought of signing a new record deal but we are having a lot of fun doing it on our own and it’s actually been working and that’s one thing that we were most surprised about. It looks different on paper when you are independent and you’re doing everything on your own but we are making the same living and still doing what we love to do and still have our freedom personally and professionally
Shauna: I feel liberated and that causes us to get creative with things and it has been a really positive thing.
How long did it take to make the album as you said you had more creative freedom so did you take your time on it?
Keifer: A little over a year to get everything done like writing. If you add everything then probably about three years but the actual process was between ten and 12 months, we just took our time with it.
What about co producing? Was it important for you to do that?
Keifer: We oversaw the entire record but we had some songs out there that were on the rock side of stuff. I have always wanted to work with Dan Huff and I wanted his guitar on the record and I thought those songs, the rockier ones would be fitting for him. The ones that Dan produced were a lot of fun to watch and it was such an honour to have him on the record. Nathan Chapman, we worked closely with Nathan Chapman on five of the songs but the rest we wanted to do on our own. We know what we wanted to sound like, we know what we had in our head
Shauna: They were so personal.
Keifer: They were so personal that we didn’t want anyone else to touch them. Masterpiece and Breakers being two of those. The first and the last song were just so personal to us, we just wanted to have full control over those.
Breakers is probably one of my favourite tracks off of the album, it is absolutely stunning.
Shauna: Thank you so much, that one again is so organic, it just came from a really tough spot that I was going through relationship wise with some family. I think it comes across in the peformance and in the lyrics and I think it is probably one of the more relatable songs on the record. Everybody has had a broken heart at one time or another.
Keifer: It is weird because without getting too far into it – the personal nature of the song, we were talking about the situation that Shauna had found herself in and we wrote the line “They say you hurt the ones you love the most, well I must be lucky because you must love me the most” that’s one of the best lines I think we have ever been able to put into a song. It is such a great opening line and that’s one of those that is so personal to Shauna that it took us forever for her to record it because she kept crying the entire process. We pieced it together but she did such an amazing job on the vocal of that song, it just means so much. We want to write music and produce music and put music out there that means something you know? I think that is what other people want too?
Oh definitely and it comes across in the song lyrically and vocally. The first time listening to the song, I said to myself “Ok, I completely believe every word that is being sung right now”
Shauna: Oh thank you!
Have you performed it live yet and if you have, did you make it through the song?
Shauna: Actually we have performed it once but no I didn’t haha.
Keifer: No haha
Shauna: We had a fan club party for CMA Fest last year and it was actually our first big official fan club party. So many people had asked about the song and we were showcasing all the songs on the album and Keifer twisted my arm into trying it and we did it, and I barely made it through. The very last line I broke.
Keifer: Which was a beautiful moment by the way. I don’t think there is anything better than seeing an artist so taken by their own song and revealing such a secret part of their life with the world and not being able to get through it. I think that’s just the most honest thing that you can do for your fans when you put yourself out on the line like that. I think that is why people love Shauna as a singer and Thompson Square because we try to put stuff out that means something. I know when I see an artist barely get through a song, I just consume that, I want more of that because I want to know what you don’t want anybody else to know. I want to know the secrets because chances are, I have those same secrets. I think that’s what Shauna does. We are trying to courage her up a little bit so she can put that song out there more because I think people need to hear her sing it.
I agree. What a special place to perform that song in for the first time, amongst your hardcore fans who will completely support you through it and it’s what country music is all about, like you said. It is what we want to see and hear.
Keifer: That’s right, totally agree.
Do you have a favourite song to perform?
Shauna: That’s like picking your favourite child haha. Probably for me and just again for personal reasons If I Didn’t Have You. We wrote that one after my father passed away and that one is always special every night. It was also our first number one as songwriters. When we moved to Nashville we not only had a dream of becoming artists but hit Songwriters too so that one will always be super special. And of course Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not. There is nothing in the world like having your fans sing every word of a song back to you.
Keifer: Honestly for me it’s the new songs off the new record that are probably my favourites just because its been a while since we have had any music out. When we get to play Up In Smoke and Masterpiece I am jacked when I hear those new songs because as a writer you always want to bring new stuff out into the world, so for me, it’s being able to play those new songs.
You are coming over in the fall for some dates which include Long Road Festival, we cannot wait, what has taken so long?
Keifer: We have been trying to get over for a few years now and again, sometimes when you are with a label you can’t do things that you want to do and the label that we were on just wouldn’t let us come over. We have always wanted to come over and have continued to have that dream of coming over and playing for you. I am happy to say we are coming over.
You haven’t been here before have you?
Shauna: No, we are so excited and we will bring Cooper and it will be a trip of a lifetime.
We sing back to all the album tracks, not just the hits and we are such a dedicated audience.
Both: We can’t wait.