Thompson Square Open Up About Staying True to Themselves With New Music

“Love is obviously in there and I mean, there’s a lot of fun on this record,” Thompson Square shared of their new music.


Nicole Palsa


Posted on April 13, 2023

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Thompson Square; Photo Courtesy of Ford Fairchild

Thompson Square is heading back to country radio with their new single “Without You,” which marks a new chapter in the story of the husband and wife duo.

Known for their hits “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not” and “If I Didn’t Have You,” Thompson Square has signed a new record deal with Quartz Hill Records and is ready to get back to business after a five-year hiatus to focus on their family.

Music Mayhem sat down with Shawna and Keifer Thompson to chat about their new single “Without You,” the direction of their new music, and their evolution as a duo.

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Why did you decide to record and release “Without You” as your new single?

Keifer: “It was actually pitched to us by the label. It’s one of the few songs on the record that we didn’t write. And it’s always hard to pick singles because you don’t want to screw up. And we had our favorites and then we were going with something else. And then we found this song. I think for the timing of the year, the summer, it’s fun. It’s very Thompson Square. It pushes the needle a little bit farther down the road for us. It seems like there’s been a little bit of evolution in the music in general, but this song is so freaking fun to play live and it goes over killer. And so we’re like, everybody wants it, so let’s go.”

Shawna: “The first time I heard it, it was one of those songs that literally just makes you want to roll the window down. It’s just fun. And then lyrically, it’s very Thompson Square. I mean, it almost feels like we were in the room, but we weren’t when they wrote it. So that’s always a good thing.”

Keifer: “It’s hard to find outside songs for Thompson Square. It’s so specific, and everybody always wants to sing the softest fluffiest lovey-est crap in town. And we hate that cause that’s not who we are at all. So I’m just like, please stop sending us these terrible, fluffy songs that nobody cares about. So we have to write everything. And especially tempos, very difficult. So we have a knack for being able to write, driving tempo songs that still have the subject matter that’s appropriate for who Thompson Square is. And this is one of those things. I mean, ‘Kiss Me or Not’ was like that. We didn’t write that song, but it felt like we did and everyone thought we did. So that’s kind of the goal when you’re trying to find outside songs.”

How has your sound evolved since your 2018 album, Masterpiece?

Shawna: “I think definitely we’re kind of going back to our roots. Sound wise, instrumentation wise, Keifer and I both, we love traditional country, so instrumentation wise, we have steel on there and banjo and a little bit of fiddle, not a lot.”

Keifer: “We did a record on Shawna independently, solo project, which is stone, stone country, old school. And it’s phenomenal. So I think that kind of rubbed up on us a little bit for this other project. And not that we could do a Haggard record, but I think one thing that we tried to approach this record with was we’ve always been forced to cut songs that we didn’t like on our previous albums. And those songs were never played. And so I think we’re trying to avoid having that issue on this album and trying to make sure that everything on this album has some meat on it. We don’t see a point in cutting songs that are just like, hey, it’s a snappy radio tune because know what? Who cares. I don’t care. And it’s kind of encouraging, to be honest with you right now, with artists like Morgan Wallen and even Jelly Roll, which is not country, but the subject matter is real in a lot of these new artists that are coming out. So I really am encouraged by this process because for the last few years it’s been so light and easy listening. And when I say it’s not country, I just think that country music is based in stories, it’s rooted in stories and we kind of got away from that. And we’re kind of getting back to that now, which is really encouraging.”

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What topics or themes do you cover on the new music you’re working on?

Keifer: “Love is obviously in there and I mean, there’s a lot of fun on this record. We live out in the country now. I woke up one morning and I was like, hey, I like living in the country. I was writing with Tyler Hubbard that morning. I was like, what do you think about this? He was like, I love that.”

Shawna: “He’s got this really cool, dobro thing on it.”

Keifer: “Having some fun and lifestyle kind of stuff. Because everyone looks at us and like, oh yeah… I got a neighbor that always calls me a city guy cause I have good hair and clean clothes and I’m just like, Tim, I was raised on a farm basically. So I’m not a city boy. I live in a city, that doesn’t make me a city boy. But they’re always trying to out country. You know, who’s country? It’s all over the map, but the nucleus of everything is love and family. And we’ve got one more session to do on the record and I’m hoping that there’s a few songs that we wrote that’s about Cooper and I really hope that stuff makes the cut. We’re pushing for it pretty hard because that’s a big part of why we signed a new record deal, why we are doing this again. So it’s important.”

What has your son Cooper taught you?

Shawna: “Oh man. Patience. I didn’t realize how much love I had in my heart until he came along.”

Keifer: “You don’t know love until you have a kid. You can be in love with somebody, that’s different. When I first met him, on day one… it’s weird that immediately you would take a bullet for this kid you don’t even know. It’s just weird. He’s really taught me how to be, pushed me to be a better man because I’m trying not to screw that up, being a dad and teaching him how to do things. And so they teach us, I think, just as much or more than we teach them in a lot of ways. But I think too, it’s helped me realize the importance of the passage of time and how fast it goes. And I think I say this a lot, but when you have a kid, you realize your own mortality and your clock really starts ticking down after you have a kid.”

Shawna: Which causes you to appreciate life more.

What have you learned about yourselves in the past few years?

Keifer: “We’ve had a lot of life in the last three or four years. We have a son now, he’s seven and he’s kind of the center of the universe. And so we’ve written a lot of songs about him, about our family and everything else. And I think we’ve kind of learned to embrace who Thompson Square is, maybe a little bit more now than we ever have. And it’s like, hey, we’re the married couple duo. There’s no one else like us. So drive that car til the wheels fall off, that’s what you are. So there’s no avoiding it. So we can’t chase down trends. It doesn’t make sense. So we have to just be us and our greatest strength is our greatest weaknesses sometimes. But we’ve learned to deal with that and live with that and we’re proud of what we do.”

Shawna: “We’ve learned to enjoy life. Losing my dad 11 years ago and Keifer lost his mom. When you get older, and we have gotten older, you appreciate life more. So we took that time off to enjoy our son and then unfortunately Covid happened. But the positive part of that was we were able to enjoy Cooper even more.”

Keifer: “We got him for the first five years of his life. Just the three of us. It’s pretty cool.”

Shawna: “So now we’re ready to get back to business.”

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