“Everybody is trying to write hits,” says Matt Thomas, singer and guitarist for Parmalee. “I think the best part is when you do what you want to do and it happens for you.”
And it’s been happening for Parmalee lately. The band, brothers Matt and Scott Thomas (drums), Barry Knox on bass and long-time friend guitarist Josh McSwain, has come a long way since its early days jamming in a tiny little tin roof barn (endearingly referred to as “Studio B”) in tiny little Parmele, N.C.
“We all came from family band backgrounds,” Thomas says. “We grew up on a lot of southern rock, and soul and blues, a lot of R&B. It all comes out. My biggest influences are Gregg Allman, Otis Redding, Delbert McClinton. The blue-eyed soul guys, I love that.”
This combination of classic country and soulful rock ‘n’ roll caught the attention of David Bendeth of RCA who gave the group its first break. Parmalee cut its first EP, Daylight, released in 2002, shortly followed by its debut full-length, Inside, in 2004.
It’s been a steady rise to the tops of the country charts since then. Parmalee released another EP, Complicated, in 2008, and continued touring, taking its particular brand of rocking country far and wide. In 2010, with a showcase for Stoney Creek Records looming large on the band’s schedule, tragedy would almost put an end to the band.
After a September tour stop in North Carolina, two armed assailants forced their way onto Parmalee’s RV. Scott, who is licensed to carry a concealed weapon, brandished his own firearm and asked the two men to kindly leave.
Shots were fired. Scott was shot three times. One of the gunmen sustained fatal injuries. Scott was hospitalized for 35 days, 10 of which he was in a coma.
Parmalee’s fans and cohorts in Music City turned out to help Scott cover his medical expenses. By February of 2011, Scott had recovered enough to get back behind the drum kit (though his leg was still in a brace from the bullet that hit his femoral artery).
The band finally got to do that showcase for Stoney Creek Records. The performance landed Parmalee a record deal. Feels Like Carolina, the band’s major label debut, was released on Dec. 10, 2013, and has produced hit single after hit single for the Parmalee.
“Carolina” went certified gold. “Close Your Eyes” was a Top 3 hit on country radio. “Musta Had A Good Time” became a bona fide party anthem and spent plenty of time on Sirius XM’s The Highway’s 30 Live and CMT’s Pure 12-Pack Countdown. Now the band is in the company of contemporary country stars like Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town and Luke Bryan.
“We have a new single, “Already Callin’ You Mine,” just came out on radio,” says Thomas. “We’re always writing and recording songs, so were ready.”
Parmalee has an extremely busy schedule leading into the summer. The group just played the historic Grand Ole Opry, and it has some dates set for overseas. But, for fans in northern Indiana, Parmalee will be making a stop in Wabash.