Interview: Thompson Square Talk Balancing Music, Parenthood and Their ‘Masterpiece’ Album
If you ask Keifer and Shawna Thompson, of husband-and-wife country duo Thompson Square, about the meaning behind the title of their newest studio album, Masterpiece, the answer is very simple: A masterpiece is the most defining legacy a person leaves in the world, and their mutual masterpiece is their son, Rigney Cooper Thompson, who was born in January of 2016.
Not only are both parents musicians, but they also belong to the same band, making striking a balance challenging when the duo goes out on the road or into the studio to record an album. ("There's no balance ... it's just a circus," Keifer joked with The Boot in a recent interview.) Gearing up to release Masterpiece, however, Thompson Square had to find a way to both be parents and pursue their musical careers.
More than five years have elapsed between the release of Thompson Square's new album, out Friday (June 1), and their most recent studio project, 2013's Just Feels Good. In the meantime, the Thompsons have primarily focused on balance and restructuring their lifestyles in order to continue doing what they love to do while also putting their son first.
"He's been onstage in several places. He's not shy. He says hey to everybody," Keifer explains, regarding bringing Cooper out on tour. "It's been a little bit of a transition in that we don't party on the bus as much. Everybody's a little bit quieter and more respectful now that he's in the back lounge of the bus."
That transition has been a small price to pay: The Thompsons always knew they wanted to be parents.
"We knew we wanted to have a kid, and it got to a point where it was like, 'If we're gonna do it, we gotta do it now,'" Keifer goes on to say. "Since then, it's just been the new norm. When you get dealt something, you learn how to deal with it. You can read all the books in the world, but none of them are gonna tell you exactly how it is."
The arrival of their son has not been the only change for Thompson Square going into recording Masterpiece. In 2017, the group parted ways with Stoney Creek Records, the label that they had been signed to since 2009; the Thompsons released two albums with Stoney Creek, and their single "Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not" went double platinum and earned them two Grammy Awards nominations. Releasing their newest album independently has brought with it new challenges and learning experiences.
"It's like making a snow angel in a field of daisies," Keifer says. "It's scary to do something like that, because the standard Nashville mindset of how it's all done is not how these things happen anymore. We're trying to get away from the mentality that you release one song and it takes a year to get that one song out."
However, the process of recording an album independently has afforded Thompson Square a great deal of creative freedom. The decision to leave their label wasn't easy, but both members of the duo knew it was necessary in order to record the kind of music they wanted to make.
"Not only is it liberating to be able to record what you want with the producer that you want, but you're paying for it, so you can do whatever the hell you want," Keifer explains. "That part of it was great."
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