Go Columbia

Matt Thomas of Parmalee talks family, new music, and his love for the Carolinas

Parmalee is made up of brothers Matt (lead vocals) and Scott (drums) Thomas, their cousin Barry Knox (bass), and childhood friend Josh McSwain (guitar). They recorded  “Down Town (Hurricane Florence Relief Song)” to benefit Hurricane Florence victims through the Red Cross.
Parmalee is made up of brothers Matt (lead vocals) and Scott (drums) Thomas, their cousin Barry Knox (bass), and childhood friend Josh McSwain (guitar). They recorded “Down Town (Hurricane Florence Relief Song)” to benefit Hurricane Florence victims through the Red Cross.

Vista After Five is ending with a bang.

The free outside concert series has been highlighting local musicians since it kicked off in September, but the Nov. 9 finale will feature platinum-selling band Parmalee.

The band, named after their hometown Parmele, N.C., is made up of bothers Matt (lead vocals) and Scott (drums) Thomas, their cousin Barry Knox (bass), and childhood friend Josh McSwain (guitar).

They hit it big in the summer of 2012 after their single, “Musta Had a Good Time,” started making the charts. Then in early 2013 came, “Carolina,” one of their biggest songs to date. The song was originally released on their 2008 EP “Complicated,” but it was was remixed, re-released and became their first No. 1 country hit. Much like their older music, “Carolina” had a more Southern rock sound and even jumped genres and found itself on pop stations.

The band released their highly anticipated sophomore album, “27861,” the ZIP code of hometown Parmele, N.C., on July 21, and will head out on their first headlining tour this fall.

We had an opportunity to talk with Matt Thomas about the band, their new music and their upcoming Columbia show.

Q. You guys have played in Columbia before, right?

A. Yeah we’ve played there, two times actually. So, we decided to get back.

Q. Do you guys remember anything you particularly liked about the area?

A. It’s close home and where I’m from, so it’s always good to get back to that part of the country.

Q. You and your brother originally had a band with your dad when you were younger. How did that influence your music?

A. My bother and I, my dad and our cousin Barry who plays the bass in the band with us. Yeah, we all played together growing up. It was pretty cool. It definitely influenced our music because we played the stuff that he was playing. My dad had the band before we were playing in it, so we were playing all the sounds of eastern North Carolina and the Southeast. So I guess he kind of put us on the country music path.

Q. What is it like being in a band with your family?

A. It’s fun. It’s family, so we all have the same goal. At the end of the day, it’s about supporting the same people which is good. Family is family, so we have our moments, but we all get along pretty good. We’ve been doing this long enough to kind of interweave with each other when we need to.

Q. You guys are from North Carolina and even named a song after the Carolinas. What does your community and the area mean to you?

A. It’s where you’re born and raised. It just kind of teaches you how to get through life. The people around there worked hard, and we were kind of raised on that. Another big part of that is the sounds you here growing up around that area and that kind of stuff just influenced us and our music. That’s how people can tell where you come from.

Q. You guys did a Hurricane Florence relief song called “Down Town.” Can you tell me a little about that?

A. Well, we just wanted to help out. We couldn’t be there so we thought why not write a song with our record label and give the proceeds to flood relief victims which will give locally? That is also kind of what the song is about. It’s out there for Florence flood relief. We couldn’t go back home but knew we needed to help out and figured a song instead of a show, which we’ll still do some shows, but that was just the first thing that came to mind. It was pretty cool to be able to do that for the community.

Q. Your last full album was in the summer of 2017, and you came out with “Party Park” in the spring. Are you guys writing? Can we expect any new music soon?

A. Absolutely. We’re writing every day. We’ll be in the studio this week, and we’re continuing to write and record. So, there’s always something on the burner. We’re pretty much writing every day or every week at least.

Q. I understand that you do most of the writing. What is that writing process like for you?

A. I do a lot of the writing here in Nashville. So, it’s almost like somebody has an idea and we bounce it off each other. You go in a room like you would for an appointment and just hash it out with a talk, or we write on the road on the bus. There are all different aspects of it, but it’s mostly collaborating with other songwriters here in town.

Q. Where does the inspiration for your music come from?

A. Things you see. Things you hear. Life and things you go through. Random things that just pop in your head or you hear someone having a conversation. You just never know where it’s coming from to be honest with you. It comes from everywhere.

Q. What is the difference between playing shows in the West and North versus the Southeast?

A. Honestly, our better audiences are out West, the Midwest, and the Northeast. The Southeast has a lot of music down there. But there are different pockets everywhere that love (country music). They’re great. You’d be surprised when you come to the Northeast and see these country music crowds. Out West, too, there are always cool crowds.

Q. This is kind of a fun question for you. From your music, it seems like you guys like to party. Will you guys be checking out any of the nightlife in Columbia?

A. I’m sure if we have time. I know we have a show the next day, but I’m sure we’ll be down there and out and about. You never know.

If you go

Vista after Five finale with Parmalee

When: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9

Where: Tin Roof, 1022 Senate St.

Cost: Free

Details: thesenatecolumbia.com.

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