Married for more than a decade, Keifer and Shawna Thompson have celebrated more than a few holidays together, including Valentine’s Day — a date Keifer lightheartedly refers to as “expensive” and “a hallmark holiday.”
But don’t be fooled by his blasé façade. Since the two will be spending this year’s romantic holiday on the road performing at the San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, Keifer’s already devising his plans.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll get her a cow pie,” he chuckled, sending his wife into bursts of laughter. “It will be readily available, I hear.”
But jokes aside, the past few years have been especially kind to the husband and wife duo who not only had their breakout, platinum-selling single, “Are You Gonna Kiss Me or Not” rise to the top of the charts, but they’re also the reigning CMA and ACM vocal duo of the year, comparing their award-winning titles to that of “gold medals.”
“It’s just like one big dream come true after the other,” Keifer described. “I’m straight humbled by the whole experience. It’s something we never thought we’d get to enjoy.”
In fact, the two remain as charismatic and delightful offstage as they do on, chatting and joking with CMT.com during their recent visit to the office where they co-hosted CMT Radio Live.
Coinciding with Thursday’s (Feb. 14) world premiere of their “If I Didn’t Have You” video on CMT and CMT.com, the couple shared one of their most memorable Valentine’s Day moments as well as discussed their intense video shoot and the poignant inspiration behind their new single.
Since you’re premiering the video for your new single, “If I Didn’t Have You” on Valentine’s Day, what does this day mean to you as a couple?
Shawna: For me, it’s always questionable whether Keifer is going to get me something or not. He likes to keep it spontaneous and wait until the very last second.
Keifer: Wait! You slam me, and then you compliment me in the same sentence.
Shawna: Exactly! That’s the way you do it. I remember a few years ago before we got a record deal or anything, I was bartending at the Wheel [a bar in downtown Nashville], and I had to work until like 2 o’clock in the morning — and nothing all day long. I got nothing. No balloons. No flowers. But when I went to my car and got in my car, he had put the balloons and flowers in there.
Keifer: It was filled up! It was filled up with crap! All kinds of red, cheesy, girly stuff.
Shawna: He was messing with my mind.
Keifer: I wanted her to get mad. I wanted her just to get totally mad. And then when you get the guilt at the end, it pays off in dividends.
“If I Didn’t Have You” is a gripping love story. As co-writers of this song, I assume these lyrics are inspired by your own love for one another? What was the songwriting process like for this one?
Shawna: Actually, part of what inspired it is me losing my dad, as strange as that sounds. We lost him in February, and seeing my mom go through not having my dad there anymore, it just sparked all of these thoughts. And Paul Jenkins, one of the other co-writers, had lost his grandfather, and he was talking about how inspirational and how much his grandfather meant to him. That’s how we came up with the idea. … And then it just kind of turned into a love song. There are several lines in that song that you can hear many different ways. It could even be spiritual, so that’s one cool thing about it. You can listen to it and kind of come up with your own story behind it.
Let’s talk about the music video. I heard you shot the music video from dawn to midnight. Why such an intense schedule?
Keifer: Yeah, it was a really long day.
Shawna: Since I’m basically in a coma throughout the video, I literally just had to lay there and sleep, and Keifer had to do all the work.
Keifer: It was fun though. I enjoy doing videos and acting. It’s just something different from being onstage singing. It was a challenge. You have to lose your “trying-to-be-Mr. Cool” . It’s time to put your acting pants on. The video, we could have gone a hundred different ways. We had a bunch of treatments before this one that just weren’t quite right. We were trying to figure it out, and then all of a sudden, this one landed in our lap, and we were like, “Absolutely.” The label loved it, and we did, too. It made the most sense. After just a few edits, it was ready to go. This is one interpretation of what the song can mean to somebody, probably the most obvious of the interpretations that one might draw. Sitting there, watching Shawna lay in bed, it wasn’t very difficult to get emotionally wrapped up in it. When you forget for a moment that it could be real, and if it was, how would you feel? I guess that’s how actors do it — put themselves in that situation.
Shawna: What was interesting, I had a double who was also in the room. Keifer had to use onions to be able to cry. But as soon as I was the one laying there in the bed …
Keifer: It was different.
Shawna: And he was holding my hand, he immediately …
Keifer: I didn’t need the onion [to cry] anymore.
Shawna: It was pretty emotional.
I’ve seen your live show, and your onstage chemistry is powerful. Is there a vulnerability that goes along with putting your personal life out on display like that?
Keifer: It’s hard to pretend night after night. (laughs) No, it’s not hard at all. I mean, every night when you get in front of 10,000 to 15,000 people, you’re so amped up and juiced, it’s fun. It’s just a lot of fun. We’re just us being ourselves onstage.
Shawna: We’re happiest when we’re onstage together.
Keifer: As long as you’re honest with what you’re doing, I think it’s not work at that point.