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INTERVIEW: Platinum-Selling Band Parmalee Release New Album, ‘For You’

Founded in Parmele, North Carolina, brothers Matt and Scott Thomas grew up surrounded by music as their father was a working musician. Joined by their cousin, Barry Knox, and long-term family friend, Josh McSwain, Parmalee stayed within the family as they began building their career.

As a group, Parmalee has earned success on multiple continents with “Just the Way” landing on Spotify’s Viral 50 Charts in the USA, Canada, Australia, Switzerland, and Norway. The band continued to be on top charts like Shazam, Billboard Canada as well as being RIAA Certified Platinum and ultimately were nominated for Duo/Group Video of the Year by the 2021 CMT Music Video Awards. 

Produced by David Fanning, the band’s latest release For You is a 13-track album that demonstrates their contemporary sound with classic ingredients. Filled with larger-than-life pop hooks, southern storytelling, and the amplified attitude of Rock ‘N’ Roll.

From the anthemic, arena-friendly rush of “Only You” to the rugged romanticism of “Take My Name,” For You is country music at its modern-day best. Working with co-writers like Ashley Gorley and Nolan Sipe, frontman Matt Thomas wrote the album based on personal life experiences that are relatable for fans making it not just his story, but everyone’s.

How did Parmalee come together?

Matt Thomas: “It’s pretty much a family thing. As teenagers, my brother Scott and I, along with our first cousin Barry, were playing local bars and backyard parties with my dad in his band. Josh was in another band playing some of the same places, so we all eventually met. Turns out he played in his dad’s band too. We shared a lot of the same musical influences and really hit it off. I knew if I ever started something new, I was asking him to join. Eventually, we were all ready to move on from the cover band scene and start writing and playing our own songs, and that’s when we started Parmalee.”

How do you think your small-town roots influenced the music you make today?

MT: “It has a huge impact. The dialect, the culture, and the music we heard growing up all play a huge part in our music. It’s very specific to Eastern NC, and there are bits and pieces in every song we have.”

What artists were you influenced by growing up?

MT: “My first real influences were the artists we were covering in my dad’s band. Allman Bros, Skynyrd, Travis Tritt, SRV, Delbert McClinton, Marvin Gaye, Bob Seger, etc. A lot of Southern Soul, blues-based stuff.”

What’s it like being in a band that is family-oriented, and one where you all consider yourselves best friends? In what way does this offer a greater sense of purpose to your craft?

MT: “We’re definitely best friends. We’ve been through so much together it’s hard to fathom. We have our moments as any family does, but we work it out because we know what it took to get here.”

Around a decade ago, the band booked a string of shows at a few country venues throughout North Carolina. The very first night you became victims of an unfortunate situation. Explain how it fueled your determination to succeed and brought you even closer together as a band.

MT: “Going through something like that will either break you or make you stronger. Scott only had a 5% chance of living so we focused on that, not the other 95%.  Fortunately, we had support from friends, family, and fans to help us move forward. They showed us that what we had done as a band, as people, and with our music mattered to them. That really made us steam forward and focus on getting back to Nashville to get that record deal.”

For You is an album built on personal experiences for the fans, both new and old. Explain how important it is for a band to form more of an intimate connection with their audience. In what way do the stories within these songs help you accomplish exactly that?

MT: “I once heard Garth Brooks say something like ‘Don’t ever forget that thing that makes you, you. That thing those fans connected with the very first time they heard you. Make sure you keep some of that in every song you do.’ We really tried to focus on that thought with this album.”

The record features the hit song, “Just The Way,” a collaboration with Blanco Brown. How does it feel to have the song go to number 1 on Country radio? What was it like working with Blanco? How did the collaboration come about?

MT: “It’s been amazing to see everything happening behind this song. We met Blanco a few years ago before he had ‘The Git Up’. We became friends and worked on a few songs together. We always knew we wanted to collaborate on a song and when ‘Just The Way’ came about we knew it was the one. “

What are your plans following the release of the record?

MT: “We’re hitting the road pretty hard, but in the following weeks we’ll be doing a bunch of giveaways and contests for our fans to celebrate the release.”

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Written by Matthew Patania

Hi, I’m Matthew, and I am the Founder of Pulse Music Magazine. Having attended my first live show in the Spring of 2015, I realized just how much joy music brings to my life. As my love for music continued to grow, I decided to create a publication that serves as an outlet to share stories told through life's grandest medium.

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