Thompson Square Talk Jason Aldean Tour, New Music + Marriage Advice for Steel Magnolia
Taste of Country caught up with Thompson Square (aka Keifer and Shawna Thompson) just before they played in Albany, N.Y. recently, in preparation for their big tour with Jason Aldean. Since setting the bar in 2010 with their second single, 'Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not,' the song has appeared literally everywhere -- from television to weddings to every 16-year-old girl's love playlist -- and was even performed live on 'American Idol' by aspiring icon Scotty McCreery.
The couple are currently riding high as an opening act on the My Kinda Party Tour, and are enjoying every minute of it. They've got a self-titled debut album on the shelves, a new single ('I Got You') that came along with it, and are loving life as a married couple on the road. In Keifer's words: "We're always excited to play -- every show!"
So you've got a new single out, 'I Got You'. How has that been received so far?
Keifer: It's been crazy. It got on the chart a lot faster than 'Kiss Me' did, probably due to the fact that 'Kiss Me' was No. 1. But, it's doing really great, the video is doing great. Everyone seems to love it!
You've been doing lots of big TV spots lately, like Conan and Jay Leno. What has that been like?
Shawna: It's pretty surreal, actually. We set our DVR at home so we could watch the Leno thing back, so we finally got home and watched it. And you know, after everybody performs Jay thanks them again or whatever? Well, we had to rewind and rewatch it because we just couldn't believe it.
And we saw that 'Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not' went platinum! Incredible. How does that feel?
Keifer: When it happened, we just about lost it. We never thought it would be this successful.
Shawna: Yeah, I mean, you're always hoping that one day you'll be a success, but …
Keifer: You visualize, but the visualizing and the happening are two different things. It's a huge, huge milestone for us, you know?
And you're everybody's cell phone ringtone and wedding song now.
Keifer: It's crazy, I know! It's awesome. We love it.
Shawna: We get on Facebook all the time [and] these messages saying, you know, that's going to be our first dance. It means a lot to be a part of such a huge thing for somebody, to be on their wedding. It's a compliment for sure.
Scotty McCreery even sang that song on 'American Idol.' What do you think of him? Have you met him?
Keifer: We haven't met him really. We were actually out of the country when all that went down, so we got back and I heard the news that he picked that song.
So you guys have been married for over a decade, and we know you've said that the whole Thompson Square thing wouldn't work without another. Are there any areas that you clash when it comes to the music?
Keifer: It's pretty straight going, you know. When you're writing is really the worst time, probably, when we butt heads, trying to pound out a hit or what we think might be one. That's one thing that can happen, it can't all be smooth in that process. Funny thing is, we try to either completely agree or completely disagree on it, if we don't do that it doesn't work. You can't have someone happy and someone not happy, it doesn't work that way.
Shawna: We always say that when we have a three-way write, whoever we're working with, they have to be a referee between the two of us [laughs].
Another country duo, Steel Magnolia, just announced that they're engaged and planning a wedding. Do you have any advice for them on being married and in a band?
Keifer: Uhh, it's a whole different thing, being married. Doing this on the road together and knowing that you can't really leave … Not that you would want to, but we know those guys. They're friends of ours and they're really, really nice. I'm sure they'll figure it out. You can't tell anyone what to expect 'cause it's different for everybody. They'll figure it out [laughs].
Well, that says it all! So, now you're out on the road with Jason Aldean. What do you want to learn from him, or what have you taken so far from touring with him?
Keifer: Well, you know, we knew going in that his fanbase … they like to have fun, you know? They like to party. We're definitely the boring married couple in life and onstage. We kind of pride ourself on that. We just knew that going in we had to really bring it. It had to be fun and high energy, so he kind of pushes you to be on top of your game, you know?
What impression do you want to give Jason's fans about your group?
Shawna: Just that we really enjoy rocking out! When we're on stage it's all about having fun and giving the crowd as much energy as we can give them and hoping they'll give us that much energy back.
Keifer: We just want them to know that we're here to stay -- we're not going anywhere.
We noticed you have a ton of shows sandwiched in between the ones on that tour. You're going to be busy!
Keifer: Yeah we've done almost 90 shows in less than a year, it's insane. But it's everything we wanted and we're not complaining. We love every bit of it.
You just released your debut album, 'Thompson Square' a few months ago and you're touring like crazy. What do you hope that 2011 brings for you?
Keifer: We just hope that we have more No. 1 [songs], more hits, more shows, getting more fans and just build this thing. Just build a big machine and have fun. If it stops being fun, then we'll stop doing it.
Are you planning to release another single? Can you tell us what it is?
Keifer: Oh, yeah. We'll probably do three or four more off of this one. It's a little early in the game for that one, but we've got a couple ideas.
Are you writing any new music while you're out on the road?
Shawna: Yeah, actually, we've been writing a little bit. We had a couple of our really good songwriter buddies come out on the road with us. I think in October we're going to take a whole week off and just focus on that -- writing the next record. We're looking forward to making some new music.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Keifer: Doing the same thing on a bigger scale!
Shawna: Yeah! Hopefully we'll have a few more fans that are coming out, and maybe a bigger stage setup.
Keifer: We're really investing in this show with Aldean and spending some dough on production ideas and stuff. We're just gonna keep dumping money into that, you know, to give the fans a better experience and hopefully we can eventually end up out on the road with a bigger crew. And just keep on living the dream!
Watch the Thompson Square 'I Got You' Video