Parmalee: ‘The Bar Is High’ for New Album
Lead singer Matt Thomas tells The Boot that they've been readying their sophomore album "for a long time," and that he's not sure it will be officially done until a release date is set.
"It’s definitely progressive from where we were with [Parmalee's 2013 release] Feels Like Carolina," Thomas adds. "It’s like verse two of that. We use different instruments to make music now, and different ways to write songs."
Although all four of the guys -- Thomas, Scott Thomas, Barry Knox and Josh McSwain -- write, and they all contributed songs for Feels Like Carolina, Parmalee make sure that "the best song wins," even if it isn't something they penned.
"Basically, we just get a big ol’ pile of songs, and whichever the best song is, the ones we all like, is the ones you pick out of there," Knox explains. "It’s a blessing to be a part of [the Nashville songwriting community] and be able to have your buddies send you songs or be able to sit in a room with some great songwriters and churn out some songs."
Feels Like Carolina featured three Top 10 singles: "Close Your Eyes," "Already Callin' You Mine," and "Carolina," which became Parmalee's first No. 1 single. Given that success, the foursome is especially keen on making sure that their new set of tunes doesn't disappoint.
"The bar is high," Knox concedes. "That record, we got a chance to see how it all happened, how it all works -- how radio works with everything, how shows work with the singles coming out, the people start showing up ... If a song is No. 1, what it means for your crowds and what it means for the venues you get to play, and what it means for your show pay and the crew you can get and all of that. We’ve had a look at it now, so I definitely want to keep moving with it."
That tenacity served Parmalee well in the early years, when they were successful in and around their native North Carolina but dreamed of bigger stages.
"We had done well, regionally. Good enough," notes Scott Thomas. "We were doing that for eight years before we got a record deal, eight or nine years ... You do a roller coaster ride the whole time. But nothing like what we’re seeing now."
However, as fans know, Parmalee almost lost their chance at stardom before their career even took off: In September of 2010, following a show in South Carolina, two men broke into their RV and demanded money. When Scott Thomas brought out his gun and told them to leave, the robbers opened fire, shooting and severely wounding Thomas. One of the assailants died at the scene, and the other was wounded; Thomas, meanwhile, spent more than a month in the hospital, and his recovery at home took months longer. It's an experience that, not surprisingly, sticks with all four men to this day.
"It makes us appreciate everything so much more," Thomas says. "We would never back down from anything anyway, but going through something like that shows you what could happen."
Adds McSwain, "I think it made us more careful than anything. It makes you think different. But there’s always millions of people that went through the same kind of thing."
But Parmalee don't dwell in the past. And with their new record in mind, their goals reach beyond album sales and new fans.
"It would be nice to win an award, whether it be an ACM or Grammy -- any of those awards would be great," Matt Thomas acknowledges. "The main thing is, just continue playing music for a living. That’s the biggest goal ever. If you can figure out how to do that, that is the ultimate goal, but an award here and there would be nice. Maybe some more No. 1 songs would be good.
"But like I said, if you get to play music with your family and your best friends, and you can support your family from it," he concludes, "that’s the ultimate goal."
A list of all of Parmalee's upcoming shows is available on their website.
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