Parmalee Discuss Carolina’s Musical Influences, School Us on Some Southern Slang
Here’s something that probably won’t surprise you to hear: The guys of Parmalee love their home state of North Carolina.
From the band’s name — a stylized version of Parmele, the North Carolina town that was home to their first practice space — to their hit song ‘Carolina’ and debut album ‘Feels Like Carolina’, it’s pretty easy to figure out that where they’re from plays a huge part in Parmalee’s music.
“It’s just the dialect, the way we talk, the way we phrase words, it has a lot to do with the characters we met growing up,” lead singer and guitarist Matt Thomas tells The Boot. “There’s a lot of local character, I guess, or influence in everything.”
But the Carolinas are a pretty big area, and everything from the way you talk to the music you listen to depends on which state and what part of it you call home.
“It’s got mountains, it’s got the flatlands, it’s got the coast, it’s got everything,” says guitarist Josh McSwain, “and so in all those genres, you’ve got different music.”
Even within the band — Thomas, his brother Scott on drums, cousin Barry Knox on bass and childhood best friend McSwain — musical influences vary.
“I came from the mountains of North Carolina, my dad played in a bluegrass band,” says McSwain. “These guys came from the flatlands out in Eastern North Carolina, with country and country rock and Southern rock, and when you mix it all together, you’ve got all that stuff going in there.”
Oh, and don’t forget the people. If you’ve heard the band explain how they found the inspiration for their song ‘Musta Had a Good Time’, you know people play a pretty large role in Parmalee’s music, too.
“We’ve been influenced by … Southern people, mostly,” Knox says, “because you never know what character you might meet at the store, drinkin’ a Pepsi-Cola and eatin’ a nab, talkin’ about something.”
In a testament to their roots, the guys aren’t afraid to drop Southern slang either, even though it needs an explanation for those not in the know.
“You’ve got ‘hangin’ in there like a hair in a cheese biscuit’. I don’t know if you’ve ever heard that,” Matt Thomas says. “If somebody asks you how you’re doing, you say, ‘Well, I’m hangin’ in there like a hair in a cheese biscuit.’ Or, ‘I’m hangin’ in there like a loose tooth,’ that’s a good one.”
“There’s words like ‘spoda’,” Knox adds. “Know what ‘spoda’ is? ‘I was ‘spoda’ be here a while ago, but I didn’t get here ’til now.’”