More than 20 years ago, Thompson Square singer-guitarist Keifer Thompson met Shawna, the woman who would become his wife and bandmate at a singing competition in Nashville.
He describes their first encounter as “a storybook type of thing.”
“That seems like it was a thousand years ago,” he says when asked about how the band first came together. Thompson Square performs at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 7, at the Kent Stage
. “We moved to town the same week back in 1996. There’s a place that hosted a contest. You go up and sing with a band. I went there right after I moved here. So did Shawna. We met that night."
Thompson heard her sing for the first time and was completely taken back by her vocals.
"I still feel that way," he says. "She’s one of those pure singers. There’s not a lot of people in town who could do that. I was infatuated, and we got to talking that night. We became friends real quick and started dating real quick. We dated for three years before we got married.”
Thompson says the band’s first single, the rowdy country rock tune “Let’s Fight,” caused a bit of controversy when it came out seven years ago because it seemed to endorse domestic violence.
“That song actually wasn’t a hit,” he says. “We bailed on that song pretty quick and came out with ‘Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not’ right after that.”
The tender ballad’s success set the band on the path to hit albums and Country Music Association awards. After 2013's Just Feels Good
, it started to work on a follow-up album but “life got in the way.”
“Life took a turn, and we had a kid,” says Thompson. “We slowed down to enjoy the family.”
And yet, the band’s currently back at it and has been working on a new album with award-winning producer Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum). It’s slated for release on June 1.
“It’s above and beyond everything we’ve done,” Thompson says of the disc. “I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. We’re super excited about it. Nathan and us became buddies really quick. I hold him in such high regard not only as a great producer, songwriter and musician but as a friend. We hit it off really quick. He was excited about our music and didn’t try to change it. We did five songs with him and two songs with Dan Huff. Those are more rock-oriented songs. We did the rest on our own because there were a few songs that were too personal. We wanted different sounds, and Dan Huff was totally different than Nathan, and we do it different from everyone else.”
Most of the band's songs feature electric guitars, so the current acoustic tour finds the band retooling its tunes for an unplugged setting.
“If I want to listen to great music or my favorite artists, I completely love acoustic music as does Shawna,” says Thompson. “We started doing that on Broadway [in Nashville] for tips. Half of our shows this year are acoustic. It’s just me and Shawna and nobody else. It’s bare bones. It’s the absolute truth. It’s fun. We had a blast doing it, and I hope we continue to do this for the rest of our careers. It’s that much fun. It’s like singer-songwriter stories with a little comedy in there and some serious situations. It’s all over the map. It’s a wild experience for a band that’s used to playing the arenas.”