Parmalee is "Already Callin' You Mine" indeed. With their latest single taking over radio airwaves, music lovers everywhere are calling themselves fans of Parmalee. And why wouldn't they? With their infectious songs, crossover appeal, and impressive live shows, it's hard not to be.
I had the chance to speak with Parmalee's Matt Thomas last week about the success of "Already Callin' You Mine," their early beginnings, and what we can expect next from the band.
The Reel Spin: Congratulations on the success of "Already Callin' You Mine" -- not only does the song have such an incredibly catchy hook, but the subject matter is also a lot of fun. Do you think that is part of why fans have really latched onto the song?
Matt Thomas: Yeah, I think, you know it's just kind of all about that love at first sight kind of moment... that moment when you realize you're definitely into someone. I think that everybody can relate to that... I think at least one time in their life they can remember when it all clicked and they knew they were all in.
TRS: Absolutely... we all love the idea of having that instant connection with someone.
TRS: How did this song come to be? Was their any sort of inspiration or just an idea?
Thomas: Just an idea that was tossed around the room when we were writing... we already had the tempo we wanted to use. We knew we wanted an up-tempo love song. One of the songwriters we were with, he threw that title out there, and it just kind of took on its own, and in a couple hours it was done. It was one of those easy ones.
TRS: The lyric video is a lot of fun too... How do you decide which songs you are going to personally be a part of and which ones work just fine with a creative lyric video?
Thomas: Well, I think the lyric video is an instant thing . . . Our label puts together a lyric video for all the songs as soon as they are released so that people can know the words and recognize it, and it does kind of suffice you a path until you want to go in and cut a real video. We all know today videos aren't as impactful as they used to be, so I think for songs sometimes they wait 'til they get up the charts and then they'll try to shoot videos. It's all, you know, just kind of an introduction to the song with the lyric video.
TRS: Yours, for that particular song, I really feel like is one of the most creative lyric videos I've seen. Really, really cute.
Thomas: Yeah, they did a great job with it. We were very pleased when we got it back.
TRS: What is the writing process like for you guys? Is it collaborative?
Thomas: Well, we write as a band . . . we take on appointments with songwriters. We'll have them come out to the house... it's almost like doctor's appointments a lot of times, we say "hey, meet me at the house." And every day in Nashville, that's how they do it. It's 10am-5pm every day... there are writers in rooms writing hundreds of songs every day. It's really a weird environment kind of, but it's so much fun. It's probably the only place on earth where all the songwriting goes down like that.
TRS: Does it make it hard when it comes time for song selection and you're deciding which songs make it to the album and which ones do not?
Thomas: Well, yeah, I mean a lot of times the good ones will find their way to the top, and then you find songs that people pitch to you that are amazing that come in at the last minute. It's never a bad thing to have too many songs to choose from, I tell you that. You want to have the best songs possible, so if you get that problem, that's a good one.
TRS: Another song of yours that I'm personally a big fan of is "Carolina." I'm a bit biased though, because like you guys I am also from North Carolina. I'm curious what the crowd reaction is like when you play it at hometown shows?
Thomas: It's huge. People back home... we had that song before we ever got signed, so they knew us for that song regionally, and it helped us get our foot in the ground when we were there doing our tour before we had the record deal. I think everybody's proud, and they love it. It's really cool. That's our song that did it for us... I think it always will be.
TRS: I know for me it always makes me think of home... it's a good feeling song.
Thomas: That's good... I'm glad to hear that.
TRS: But you know, even though I'm from North Carolina, I had never heard of the town that you guys based your band name off of, Parmele... where is it exactly? Is it near the Greenville / East Carolina area?
Thomas: Yeah, it's about 20 miles north of Greenville in Martin County. We grew up near Parmele. It's right above Greenville . . . a little dot on the map.
TRS: So you guys grew up near there and practiced there, so it just seemed like the perfect band name?
Thomas: Yeah, we did. My dad's best friend owned a house in Parmele, and he had a barn out back that we rented from him. That was our rehearsal spot. When you're starting a band, you always have to have somewhere to practice. Had to have a band room somewhere, and that was the one we had available. The first night we ever played together as Parmalee, it was out of that barn. We were looking for names, so we were like let's just call it after the town and change the spelling a little bit, so people can pronounce it a little easier or try to, and here we are.
TRS: Well, it worked perfectly. So, are you guys currently working on a new album?
Thomas: Oh, absolutely. We've been working on stuff nonstop since we released this one. We've been writing and recording. The past twelve months we've been in the studio. We've got about at least half the record done, or so we think, but you never know... you keep writing songs and recording songs right up until the end. The ones you start with may not even end make the record, because you may have written something better in the meantime. It's all a collective work and a continuous job.
TRS: Is it hard to write when you're touring, because I know you guys have been on the road a lot lately?
Thomas: Yeah, it is... it's hard to find time. We have 11 guys on our bus, so there's not a lot of room to bring out people and try to write ideas. Usually when I'm home in Nashville, I'm writing every day that I can squeeze in. It's always a priority when I get back home. If I have a couple days off, I will spend them writing.
TRS: I know it can be hard being out on the road for so long and away from home, but do you feel like it's worth it once you hit the stage and start connecting with fans?
Thomas: Oh, we love it out here. I love being out here more than I do being at home to be honest with you, because we get to travel the country. I'm sitting in Vegas at poolside right now. We're going to play a show here tonight. It's pretty cool. But I mean it is grueling, because we have to be up at 5:30 in the morning to do a show in California. We'll be in California, but we have to get up at 5:00 in the morning and have to leave at 6:00 in the morning the next day, and then Sunday we play a show, and then we get into a plane and get home 3:00 in the morning Monday. It's fun being out here, but the scheduling is crazy right now for where we are, but it's cool.
TRS: Like you said at least you're getting to see a lot of fun places...
Thomas: Oh yeah...
TRS: You're going to be performing at the CMA Fest Kick-Off Concert [today] in Nashville. Are there any particular performances that you're excited to check out at the festival while you're there?
Thomas: I've not been to LP Field yet, but the Riverfront is always really cool. I haven't looked at the schedule to see who is playing, but everybody is playing down there. I don't know when they are playing the time slots, but I like just being there and you'll hear somebody on one stage and you'll see somebody you know. It's pretty cool. There's so much going on. You never know what you're going to catch. I haven't made any plans yet. I know it's going to be a good time everywhere down there.
TRS: Absolutely. The line-up is really insane... it's incredible. I wanted to ask you too... when you're going through the process of choosing new songs for an album, do you ever try out new songs on stage just to gauge fan response?
Thomas: Yeah... we will. We've done that with songs before. We're still in the writing process right now of the new ones. We haven't yet, but I'm sure we will. We'll try some stuff out for sure.
TRS: You guys have had hit single after hit single... you've toured with Jake Owen and Brad Paisley and just on your own all across the country... what's next for Parmalee?
Thomas: We're hot on the heels of "Already Callin' You Mine," so we're doing all these festivals this summer to hopefully move that on up the charts, and obviously the new music and new record will be the next big thing. Hopefully by the beginning of next year we'll be on a big tour. There's nothing set in stone now, but that's what you look forward to... new record, new single after "Already Callin' You Mine" having everything ready -- looking forward to 2016. We'll see what happens.
For more on Parmalee:
Website - parmalee.com
Facebook - facebook.com/parmaleemusic
Twitter - @parmalee
Interview by Pamela Thomas