Since the age of 11, Keifer Thompson has wanted to be a musician. He just didn’t always know that it could be a career.
After a few decades in the music business, the country singer – along with his singing partner and wife of 20 years, Shawna Thompson – just released their third album, and will perform for fans at Ironstone Amphitheatre on July 27.
Thompson Square, the duo’s band name, will be opening for Sugarland on that date, playing a long list of their hits. The couple decided to form the group after their solo careers kept them apart with recording and touring. In the 10 years since forming, Thompson Square has recorded three albums, and will be performing overseas for the first time ever.
Even though they’re busy touring at the moment, Keifer Thompson took a few minutes to speak with Enterprise Editor Marc Lutz about music, marriage and “Masterpiece,” the title of their latest album.
Marc Lutz: When did you both start singing?
Keifer Thompson: (Shawna has) literally been singing … in bands since she was 10 years old. My whole life, I’ve been infatuated with music, right down to imitating Elvis. I was 11 when I got my first guitar. That’s all I wanted to do. It took me quite a long time to figure out I could do this for a job.
ML: You were both solo artists before forming your duo. What led to the decision to sing together?
KT: I went on tour with an act. We opened for George Strait. I was gone for three months, and we both hated it. (We asked ourselves) how do we keep our marriage healthy and realize our dreams? How do we not be a statistic? Forming a duo seemed logical.
ML: You celebrated 20 years of marriage in May. To what do you attribute the success of your marriage and your band?
KT: I don’t know. It’s really weird. I think God put us together for a reason. She’s my best friend. We love each other, but we like each other, more importantly. For some reason it just works out. We coexist all day, every day. It’s quite a blessing to keep a marriage together for that long. It just works for us. It is work, but it really hasn’t seemed like work to us. I’m thankful for that.
ML: Does working together present any difficulties?
KT: It’s weird because I forget them. I can’t really give you any examples. They disappear as fast as they appear. It’s usually fatigue that causes arguments. We try to stay disciplined. We do a thing where we start over. We drop it, and don’t bring it up again.
If you bring it up again, the other person gets to punch you in the face. So far, no one’s been punched in the face (laughs).
ML: What are the upsides to working together?
KT: You only get one life, and you only have so much time. It’s quite a gift to get to spend all that time with the person you care about. We get to see each other’s dreams play out every night on stage. We laugh together, cry together, get pissed off together. The business can be up and down. It’s good to have someone there to lean on. My favorite two people are there with me all the time. (The couple has their son, Cooper, 3, on tour with them.)
ML: Thompson Square has quite a catalogue of music. Which song would you say best describes you as a duo?
KT: There are so many. “A Love Like This” is a true story to us. “If I Didn’t Have You” is really transparent to us. And “Masterpiece” I wrote about us and Cooper. It’s my favorite one to play live right now. It’s super personal to us. Our son, Cooper, is over in the wings, singing and dancing to it.
ML: What do you enjoy most about performing in concert?
KT: I think just being on stage with (Shawna) and our band and seeing the reaction of the fans. It’s such an amazing feeling getting the reaction. Just the interaction – that’s the drug. I get a really great dose of that every night. I love it.
ML: What do you hope listeners take away from your music?
KT: I think we make music for us and them, and we try to be true to that. We’re not chasing anyone else. We’re not chasing a sound. We’re just trying to be Thompson Square. I want fans to take away the transparency of this project. There’s a certain standard, and we try to stay true to that without getting stale or stagnant.
ML: What’s the strangest thing you’ve both had happen while touring together?
KT: We (performed at) a theater one time. We were playing “Glass.” There were about 1,000 people there. We had this intimate moment, and this guy rushed the stage and flipped the audience off with both fingers. Can’t make that up.
We’ve had a lot of fights and craziness. You wouldn’t think a Thompson Square show would be like that. I think it’s emotions.
Thompson Square is an aphrodisiac, I guess.