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Posted March 14, 2016 by Jeff in Tunes
 
 

Parmalee Taking the World by Storm

Parmalee
Parmalee

Currently nominated for 2016 Academy of Country Music award for New Vocal Duo/Group of the Year award, Parmalee recently performed “Already Callin’ You Mine” on NBC’s Today show. Parmalee has earned over 19.7 million YouTube/VEVO views, 284 million Pandora streams and 41 million Spotify plays to date. It crossed another major hurdle in September of 2015, which marked the five-year anniversary of an attempted robbery and shooting that nearly left the band without drummer Scott Thomas, who was critically hurt in the melee. Bassist Barry Knox spoke via phone from a Providence tour date.

You grew up in North Carolina. Did that influence the type of music you listened to and wanted to play?
I think so. I heard a lot of Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass and stuff like that. We heard a lot of that type of music.

Your uncle was a musician. Talk about how he first introduced you to music and what kind of inspiration he was.
My mother was a musician and my mother’s brother was Scott and Matt [Thomas’] father. They were my cousins. He played in a band and once we got old enough, we joined it. It was more of a blues/soul band. He played keys and we played a bunch of Delbert McClinton, Allman Brothers and stuff like that. Classic rock and blues.

It sounds like starting your own band was really just a natural evolution.
It was. We were lucky enough to meet Josh McSwain in Greenville at East Carolina University. His band was playing the same clubs as my uncle Jerry was playing. Uncle Jerry was getting older and wanted to get out of the game. We met Josh and became a band in a very natural way. When we played our first show together as four members of Parmalee, it was the last show that Uncle Jerry played. We opened up for Uncle Jerry but we all played in his band so we basically opened up for ourselves.

After the release of Inside in 2004, you spent two years on the road. What was that experience like?That was a very good learning experience. Looking back on it, we were just hitting the road and booking our own shows. We didn’t have anyone with us. It was just us four. We drove the van. We booked the hotels and loaded the gear and sold our own merch. We were road-dogging it. It was a good learning experience for us. After that, we found out that we needed to go in a direction that would be more successful as opposed to playing for 150 people every night and just wearing ourselves down doing it. We wanted to do it for a living, but we wanted it to be a little bit easier.

What was the key to carrying on after that shooting took place in 2010?
Well, I think it was the determination that we had that kept us going. I really do. When Scott woke up, the first thing he said was, “We ain’t playing those shitty clubs.” Right then, I knew he was going to get better and we were going to do this thing. It was his determination to live that let us know that we needed to push on. We had to get better and be successful.

We had worked so long and so hard that to not be successful would just suck.

Talk about Feels Like Carolina. At what point did you start writing the songs and did you find they took you in a specific direction?
When we wrote “Carolina,” we knew that we found it. We found the Parmalee sound. Up until that point, we were just playing music and having fun. We didn’t have any direction. We had a producer push us in more of a rock direction. There’s another song called “San Diego” that’s a straight up country song that never made our record but it was “Carolina” when we finally found our sound. We realized that we were good at this and we just needed to do it and stop being scared and delivering stuff that people want to hear. We wrote a bunch of stuff and what got released was a handful of those.

It took us a while to find our sound.

Was there something in particular that inspired the song “Carolina”? Is that based on a particular person?
As a matter of fact, it’s based on an experience we had. We went to Los Angeles to record because we had free time. We were out there for several months and came back to Carolina. Matt was in the studio one day. He said it felt like California. But when he went outside, he said, “We’re in Carolina” because of the heat. Scott was like, “She feels like Carolina.” We turned that situation into a love song about a particular girl and there’s no particular girl.

What was the recording experience like?
After our L.A. thing, we came to Nashville and that’s where we met [RCA’s] David Bendeth. We realized we had mutual friends in Nashville. When we wrote that “Musta Had a Good Time,” David got interested in our band and was working with a production team called New Voice. It was the drummer, guitarist and bassist from Jason Aldean’s band. They heard our stuff and they liked us. They signed us to a production deal and introduced us to the record label Stoney Creek, which ended up signing us. At that point, we had started working on the record. We cut “My Montgomery” and “Carolina” and “Musta Had a Good Time.” Those songs got us our record deal and then Benny Brown, the owner of the label started pitching us some good songs. We knew the direction we were going, and we started writing and trying to pick songs. It was an interesting process for us. It wasn’t like we went in the studio for 30 days and did an album. We wrote Carolina in 2007 and between then and 2013, we had a lot of stuff to write and stuff to hear. It was really cool. We used that to our advantage to come up with a great record. When we were younger, it had to be these songs that go on our CD. At this point, we were open-minded about who wrote it and why we were releasing it.  It’s interesting that at the end of our recording process, we realized we didn’t have an up-tempo love song. That’s what the album needs. Luckily enough, we hooked up with two writers that had this title called “Already Callin’ You Mine.” That was perfect. We wrote that song and it clicked. We wrote it in less than three hours. That went Top Ten for us.

One review noted that there’s lots of “crunchy guitar riffage” on the album. Talk about that.
Yeah, I have to agree with that. Josh and Matt both play guitar. Matt is more of a blues guy and Josh is more of a metal ripper. That definitely comes out in our music. We have this thing that we called the Parmalee groove and it’s definitely bluesy and full of guitar riffage.

You’ve been nominated for a 2016 ACM “New Vocal Duo/Group of the Year” award. It must feel nice.
Oh man, absolutely. It feels good for everybody. It’s like we’re now accepted and recognized by the industry as something great and successful. It feels very good.

Upcoming 2016 Shows

 

MAR 17

MAR 18

MAR 19

MAR 24

MAR 25

MAR 26

APR 8

APR 9

APR 15

APR 16

APR 22

APR 23

APR 29

MAY 14

JUN 10

JUN 11

JUN 18

JUL 15

JUL 16

 

 

Grand Rapids, MI – Intersection

Shelby Township, MI – Coyote Joe’s

Rootstown, OH – Dusty Armadillo

Clarence, NY – Nashville’s II

Jordan, NY – Kegs Canal Side

Clifton Park, NY – Upstate Concert Hall

Panama City Beach, FL – Aaron Bessant Park

New Port Richey, FL – Sims Park Amphitheater

Vicksburg, MS – Vicksburg Riverfest

Houston, TX – Sam Houston Race Park

Wantagh, NY – Mulcahy’s Pub and Concert Hall

New Concord, OH – Muskingum University

Lima, OH – Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center

Kennewick, WA – Untapped Music Festival

Karlstad, MN – Kick’n Up Kountry

Winsted, MN – Winstock Country Music and Camping Fest

Marinette, WI – Porterfield Country Fest

Albany, OR – Linn County Fair

Saint Helens, OR – Columbia County Fair & Rodeo


Jeff

 
Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at jeff@whopperjaw.net.