The Grand Ole Opry and Southwest Airlines have joined forces to bring New York country fans a concert series in Bryant Park. Nash FM, New York's country station, will host the three-week event where Grand Ole Opry favorites -- Parmalee, rising country music star, Lindsay Ell, and country fan-favorite, Thompson Square -- will take the Southwest stage in Bryant Park for an intimate fan experience. Last week kicked off the summer concert series with its first performers, Parmalee.
This North Carolina-based country rock group has been on the rise this past couple of years with their platinum-certified smash hit, "Carolina," which is the longest standing single in the 24-year-history of the Billboard Country Airplay Charts done by a duo or group. In 2014, MSN also named Parmalee one of "Country Music's Breakout Stars of 2014," -- and this year, the band received a nomination at the 2016 ACM's for the “New Vocal Duo/ Group of the Year” award.
Before this group hit the ground running producing chart-topping smash hits, they spent their time working their way to the top. They started from the ground up, but they always knew music was going to be a bit part of their lives.
"Obviously, we were all into music because our parents were, but Scott and Matt were actually lagers back in the day," said Barry Knox, the bassist and one of the vocalists in the band. "I worked in a hardware store. My grandfather owned a hardware store and that’s where I grew up working. Josh, he did everything from cooking pizzas to construction and he’s still a master chef."
"I’ve never had a real job, any job I’ve ever had was just a job that you could work three or four days a week and have the weekends off to go play music," said Josh McSwain, one of the band's vocalists and guitarists. "This is something we’ve always wanted."
Parmalee's success was certainly homegrown and they wouldn't be where they are today without a little bit of southern ground.
"The music we heard growing up is a big influence on us learning how to sing, how to play guitar and all of that," said Matt Thomas, the band's lead vocalist and one of the guitarists. "The lifestyle from Eastern North Carolina, where we’re from, definitely will always play in on a big part of our music."
"I think the fact that I play in a band is all due to my roots," said McSwain. "My dad played in a band, Matt and Scott grew up; their dad played in a band, so just the fact that that happened shows you can’t outrun your roots."
The band has very strong ties to North Carolina, as brothers Matt and Scott Thomas and their cousin Barry grew up near Greenville, North Carolina. Parmalee wrote their hit song, "Carolina," as a way to pay homage to their roots.
"We had actually gotten back from a trip to California; we’d been out there for a couple of months," said Parmalee. "We got back and I just had this thought that the studio reminded me of California, but I knew I was home, I felt like home, so that idea came up. ‘Feels like Carolina, looks like California,’ and just thinking about how we can keep that idea going. Recording it was really cool. We heard about this guy Rick Beato, so we went and met him and brought him a batch of songs to record. This was one that we hadn’t finished and we asked him if he wanted to finish it with us as a songwriter and a producer and record it. He did and he sent it back to us and it was one of those moments that was like, fellas, I think we found our sound, I think this is what we’ve been chasing for a long time, so it was crazy."
As Parmalee developed their unmatchable country sound over the years, they gained a loyal fanbase that stuck by their side through thick and thin. Back in 2010, the band was involved in a horrific shooting that left Scott Thomas hospitalized for 35 days, and 10 of those days were spent in a coma. The band owes practically everything to their incredible fans, and they wouldn't be where they are today without their support system.
"Without them, we wouldn’t be here," the band said. "When that happened, they raised money and they put together benefits and they just put it all out there for us and made us realize that we, at least, connected with some people on some level. It made us want to continue to help us keep pushing forward when most people would stop. If there weren’t any fans, we wouldn’t be able to do this for a living, so we owe everything to our fans. It’s the most important thing."
Not only does the band have a huge support system from their fans, but also from fellow artists in the industry. Last year, Parmalee went on the biggest tour they've ever been on with Brad Paisley's 2015 Country Nation World Tour.
"Brad Paisley, he’s someone we’ve looked up to for years and just to have the opportunity to play with him every night is amazing." the band said. "The biggest thing we learned from him is the power of your hit songs."
Parmalee is set to headline some dates and play some festivals this year where fans can expect one hell of a show.
"When you come to our show, leave everything at the door. Just come in, enjoy some music, maybe a couple cold drinks and just have a good time."
Last year, Parmalee embarked on a nine-day, six-country, powerful journey through Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East on their first Navy Entertainment tour overseas. Navy Entertainment partners with artists, comedians, celebrities and professional athletes providing them with the opportunity to show their deepest appreciation for those serving our country. The band is set to return overseas this fall for their second tour with Navy Entertainment.
"We didn’t know what it was going to be like or anything, but after going over there and seeing all the hard work that everybody does, we have a whole new appreciation for the U.S. Military," the band said. "We get to play music for a living, we can go over there and entertain them for a few hours, but what they do for us, that’s the only reason we have these jobs, it’s because we’re safe enough to do this here. It means the world to us to do and we’ll do it time and time again. It’s the coolest experience we’ve ever done, and we can’t wait to go back."
Parmalee is set to debut their second album sometime this year, which is sure to deliver some fiery, soulful, rock n' roll tracks on the long-awaited album.
"We’ve been working on it for a couple of years, so we’re really excited," the band said. "We’ve been living with it, so it’s time to get it out and let other people experience it. People, they’ve already waited too long and we realize that. We’re working hard on that and trying to wrap it up. It’s always going to be us, the vocals, the guitars, and kind of a rock n’ roll approach to things. It’s still a good time; a good feelin’ album. It’s just like everything; it’s evolution. It’s a little different. We do tend to write and pick songs that make you smile, and hopefully this second album will kind of do that as well."
Check out Parmalee's newest single, "Roots," which pays a tribute to hometown America, and you can also purchase the single here.