Tuesday afternoon found Thompson Square on the road in Scranton, Pa. Though we are a week into spring, someone forgot to tell Mother Nature, as Keifer Thompson relayed the weather conditions to Billboard.
“It’s snowing like crazy, and there’s about an inch and a half on the ground right now,” he said with a laugh, noting that it’s not exactly Trans Am weather just yet. “But soon,” said Keifer, half of the duo, along with his wife Shawna.
He mentioned the classic muscle car because of their song “Trans Am,” the energetic lead single from the ACM & CMA-award winning duo’s third album. Thompson said it represents a new sound. “It’s been a little while since we had a single,” he said. “We’ve just been writing our guts out and trying to prepare for the next chapter of Thompson Square and what we want to do next. ‘Trans Am’ is going to be the first page in that chapter. The whole album is going to be pretty aggressive and very rockin.’ Hopefully, it won’t sound like anything you hear on the radio.”
Thompson said the song takes him back to his childhood dreams. “That was the car I always wanted when I was a kid. It’s American muscle. I’m a huge car and motorcycle guy, and I love anything American-made. A Trans Am is surely a great example of that. It reminds me of this wonderful country we live in. When we went to the writing sessions, one of the other writers had the idea, and I said, ‘I don’t care what we do today as long as we write that one.’ It just happened very organically with that song.”
In addition to the wide-open sound, the subject matter of the single (and album) varies just a little bit from before. “For this whole project, we tried to throw out the whole married couple kind of thing,” he said. “It’s real easy to push yourself into a corner if you’re worried all the time about doing love songs. We don’t want to do that all the time. That’s boring for us too. This is just a great song with a guy and a girl singing on it. That’s how we approached things this time around.”
Freshening up the Thompson Square sound and approach is important to the couple, he stressed. “There’s no other benchmark for what we do. There’s nobody else doing it, and hasn’t been for a while. There’s no other road to look at and see what happened with them. So, we’re kind of on our own. It just seems that no matter what we do, it’s looked at as a love song between the two of us. That’s fine, and we enjoy singing those songs on stage to one another and make that believable. But that’s only part of our lives and what we do. This just represents a little bit of an evolution. I think it’s important for every album that you show the fans every side of you and not the same side over and over again.”
Part of that approach included working with producer Dann Huff for the first time, which Keifer said brought about a renewed attitude and confidence in the studio. “We’re at the point in our career where we feel that we need to step up our game all the way around. Dann was such an integral part of that process. He simply allowed us to be us. I think he made a world of difference in the Thompson Square sound. It’s much bigger.”
That sound will be on the road throughout the spring and summer, as the duo will be flying solo — something they love. “We’re doing our own thing. We loved it last year, and we’re going to do it again in 2015. We might do something with someone in the fall, but we love being out on our own. We’re going to go out there and have some fun.”