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| 3 March 2016 | Reply

Parmalee is out touring still supporting the late 2013 release, Feels Like Carolina.  Recently we were able to get bass player Barry Knox on the phone and talk about the album, its three singles, new material, and Parmalee’s connection to Mötley Crüe and Marvin Gaye.  As they traverse the country this summer, they will be premiering a new single, “Roots” as well as their Top 10 singles among other favorites.

Parmalee Red Wall - Joseph Llanes

Toddstar: Barry, thank so you much for taking the time out for us. We know you guys are busy out there on the road. I really appreciate you taking time out for us today.

Barry: No problem man. Thanks for having me.

Toddstar: Parmalee is one of the biggest things out there right now. You guys are out touring, supporting your major label debut, Feels Like Carolina. This has been out a couple years now. Is it still being received well? What are the fans saying when you’re out there playing the stuff off the disc?

Barry: Oh man. You know, it’s really been great for us. Obviously the majority of the people know “Carolina.” It was our biggest hit. It’s really surprising to me and all the guys in the band to see the people singing the words to just the album tracks. I’ve got to be honest with you, that makes us feel really good; to know that people are listing to more than just one song is great. We’ve been fortunate to be able to go all around the country and play. We’ve seen some just amazing things. We always meet our fans before and after shows. We always go out and sign autographs, take pictures with everybody. To see some of the lives our music has changed is really just, I don’t even know the words to describe it. It’s just so fulfilling I guess. We’re just doing stuff, and writing music, and having fun. It’s changing people’s lives. I don’t think any of us knew that going in to this, but to see it happen is just amazing. I guess we’re just so appreciative. It’s crazy.

Toddstar: With your music, you guys really are touching lives; it comes across with charts and sales. You guys are the first country group since The Band Perry to have 3 consecutive top 10 hits on a debut disc. When you guys put this album together, did you ever think this is a Top 10 or were you guys just playing and writing what you guys wanted to play and write?

Barry: Absolutely not. We had no idea. We’ve been a band since 2001 and we actually wrote “Carolina” in 2007. When it comes down to putting this album together, we pretty much got started in 2007 and the album didn’t come out until what, 2013? We had a long time to write and try to figure out what Parmalee was supposed to sound like. After we wrote “Carolina,” we kind of knew we found our sound. From that point on is when we were basically writing. We were writing stuff to go on this record. We had a long time to do it. It didn’t take us a long time. We probably could’ve put an album together pretty quick, but we didn’t have a record label behind us. We didn’t have a producer or producers that were behind us and stuff like that to really make an album happen. To answer your question, we had no clue. We were just doing it for fun and that’s the reason we did it to begin with. Just to have fun.

Toddstar: You’ve been doing this for a long time. You’ve got the Thomas brothers and yourself, a cousin. What’s it like doing this day in and day out with family members? It’s got to be hard on you guys at times, right?

Barry: I’ve been asked this question before and to be completely honest with you, we have a very good relationship. We’ve always taken the time to make sure we are at grandma’s house for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I think it’s easier. I really think it’s easier for us because we know we gotta go back to grandma’s house on Thanksgiving. We know that we gotta live with each other. We all had the same goal when we started this so we’re all headed in the same direction. I think it’s better. I couldn’t imagine being on the road in a band with guys and girls who weren’t my family. I just couldn’t imagine it. It’s pretty smooth. We care about each other and I think that shows. Even out here on the road. We’ve got each other’s back all the time. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.


Toddstar: You mentioned being out on the road and you guys have a couple dates coming up in Michigan which we’re excited about. When you’re out touring, how do you find your music is being accepted across the whole country? Are there areas that are better for you guys or is country music just taking over?

Barry: I think it’s a little bit of both to be honest with you. It surprises us every night. We can be in California or Maine. We were in Portland, Maine last night and there’s just people coming out and we’re selling out shows. It’s amazing. When we got started in North Carolina, we didn’t really go anywhere other than North or South Carolina for several years. We kind of felt, yeah we found our market or whatever. Once we got some radio success, it surprised all of us to know how much it’s affected people all over the country. Yeah, we do have pockets of places that there are more people at our shows. It’s crazy. It blows our mind all the time. We talk about it after the show like, “man, there was like 2,000 people in there. They came to see us.” It’s just crazy. It just goes to show you. We never knew what our music could… the lives we could change. We never knew that. We never knew that we would be selling out clubs in Grand Rapids, for example. It’s awesome.

Toddstar: You mentioned earlier when you wrote “Carolina” you kind of had your direction. Was that song and direction one of those things that kind of came out at that whole deal with Nikki Sixx? I know you guys have probably talked this story to death, but that’s a great connection for me because I love Parmalee and I love Mötley Crüe. It’s a great bridge for me. Did they come out at the same time frame while you were actually still kind of feeling yourselves out?

Barry: Yeah it did actually. Interesting story. We had a financial backer and he has invested in this studio in Los Angeles. We got to go to record in that studio because of his investment. When we were out there, the engineer had worked on the Brides Of Destruction album. He was friends with Nikki Sixx and he liked what we were doing. He called Nikki and said I’ve got some guys in the studio here and I think you’ll work well with them. Nikki came and for about 3 days we wrote, recorded stuff. Nikki helped produce the stuff. It was actually John Greenberg, a manager, who came into the studio and listened to our music. Once he heard it, he said, ‘Why aren’t ya’ll in Nashville?’ We’re in LA going ‘I don’t know. Why aren’t we in Nashville?’ So we left. When our time was done there in LA we went straight to Nashville. He had hooked up with a guy who mixes and stuff. We went in with him and wrote some songs and we recorded 3 or 4 songs. That was kind of our introduction to Nashville. We’ve been going to Nashville for several years just writing and stuff like that; never going to get signed. After that point we started making trips back to Nashville. We had an RV at this time and we would go to the Tin Roof parking lot in Nashville right on Demonbreun Street. Park the RV and live in that parking lot for months at a time. It was there in that parking lot where we met Dave Fanning. David was working with New Voice Entertainment which was Jason Aldean’s band. They met us, they loved our music, they signed us to a production deal, and they introduced us to what is now our record label. It all stemmed from that Nikki Sixx experience. There’s no doubt.

Toddstar: That’s a hell of a story to tell your grand kids someday. You’re mentioning a lot of names. You’re mentioning Jason Aldean. You’re mentioning Nikki Sixx. These are heavy hitters. Who’s the heavy hitter that influenced you at one point, Barry and made you want to pick up a base and play whatever kind of music it was?

Barry: When I heard Led Zeppelin the first time I fell in love. I had every single tape they ever made. I could play every drum beat. I started playing drums when I was younger. That was my first instrument. I learned everything from listening to Led Zeppelin records, Metallica records. Led Zeppelin and Metallica were pretty much my big, big influences. I know it sounds weird, but when I was growing up, I was listening to everything. I was listening to Snoop Dogg. I was listening to Metallica, Led Zeppelin. Anything that sounded good, I loved it. Yeah, that was it. If I had to name 3 it would probably be Snoop Dogg, Metallica and Led Zeppelin.

Toddstar: Quite the combination.

Parmalee_Carolina_RT 2

Barry: When it came to me playing the bass when we were coming up, Scott’s father, my uncle, had a band, and we all played in that band. At that point there was a bass player and I played percussion. Scott was on drums, but I was playing congas and bongos. Once their dad quit, the bass player quit. That was when I had to step my game up. There was no way we could find a bass player. We needed a bass player more than we needed a percussionist. I had to learn how to play. It was Victor Wooten that was my main influence on bass.

Toddstar: We have talked about how Feels Like Carolina is a couple years old now and the songs are still being received well by the fans, we all want to hear something new. Is there new music coming from Parmalee?

Barry: There is. There absolutely is. We’ve got a single coming out the first part of April. It’s called “Roots”. It’s a great song. It’s all about you can’t outrun your roots. For us, we’re in Nashville now. We grew up in North Carolina and we see it every single day. Nashville is a city for us. The song just talks about how no matter where you go, you can’t outrun your roots. You can’t change who you are. The stuff that you learned when you were young is going to stick with you for the rest of your life. That’s what that song is all about. It’s great. I’m excited about it. We’re all excited about it. Our label is excited about it. We’ve already shot the video which is great because normally you don’t shoot a video before the release of a song. This song is just… we’ve got a lot of support from our label behind the song which is great. It’s coming out real soon. To get back to your other question about how long it’s been since we put out a record, we’re just as excited to get people to hear our new music because it’s been way too long. The single will be coming out in April and the album… I’d say we’re 90% done with it at this point. It’ll be coming out this year as well.

Toddstar: I know you’re a busy man so I’ve got another question or two for you before we cut you loose Barry. Looking through the 12 great tracks on Feels Like Carolina, if you had to pick one or two songs on there that you think will always be part of Parmalee’s set, from now til you hang it up, what would those couple songs be?

Barry: I’d have to say “Carolina”, definitely and if I had to pick one more, I’d probably say “Must’ve Had A Good Time”. I think those two songs pretty much sum up what Parmalee is all about. Good bunch of Carolina boys that are having a good time.

Toddstar: It definitely comes through in the music. That’s one of the things I like about your album. There are no super highs and there are no super lows. This is just a great album from top to bottom. When you guys write or pick songs that you’re going to record, do you guys keep that in mind or do you guys just choose songs that sound great and hope they work together?

Barry: I guess it just depends on the timing of the writing process. When we started getting songs for this record it was like I said, we wrote “Carolina” a long time ago. It was about just creating something that sounded good. That’s all that really mattered – “this sounds great.” By the time we were putting the record together, we had I’d say anywhere from 150-200 songs to pick from. At that point, that’s when you go okay let’s grab these songs and make them a collection. What works? At the same time, right before we were done with the album, when we were mixing, before we had written “Already Callin’ You Mine,”  knew we needed an up-tempo love song. We knew that. So when we were writing with writers right as the end of the record was coming about, that’s what we were trying to write. In that case, we were specifically writing a certain thing. What’s a little more interesting is right before we were done with the album, we had like 3 days, is when we got pitched the song called “Close Your Eyes”. Once we heard it, we were like ‘Oh man that sounds like a Parmalee song. We’ve got to cut this song.’ For as many years as it took us to write all this stuff, at crunch time like the last 3 days of the recording process, that’s when we got “Close Your Eyes” and “Already Callin’ You Mine.”


Toddstar: What’s it like for you guys to see Parmalee in the Alternative category on music servers like iTunes? What’s that like for you to see something like that where you’re not pigeonholed into country, but you guys are being accepted across several genres?

Barry: I think we’re very lucky. To be honest. We never really had a direction when we started this band. We were just doing it for fun and whatever sounded good, sounded good. Yeah, to know that we’re crossing over is a dream come true for us. It really is. I think the music industry has changed over the last few years. Matt says this all the time: “Country music is music of the country.” There is rock, hip hop, all which is mixed in to country music now days. I think we’re just lucky that we came in to this at the right time. It’s really worked well for us.

Toddstar: You guys definitely were at the right time. Especially with this album. Last question for you Barry. If there is a song out there that the band could cover, or what if you guys just jammed to this thing, what’s your guys’ favorite song? What would be a song that you guys would want to cover?

Barry: I think our favorite song to do if it’s on the stage or sitting in the back lounge, or in the living room, would be hands down Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On.” We’ve been playing that our whole lives. That song is great. It really shows Matt’s vocal capabilities and it shows the soul that we all have; that Eastern North Carolina soul. We were brought up on soul music. We’ve been playing Marvin Gaye “Let’s Get It On” ever since we started this band and we’ll never quit. Matt sounds real good singing it.

Toddstar: Awesome. Listen man, we wish you safe travels and we can’t wait to see you in Grand Rapids, Michigan on the 17th. Safe travels til we get you here in Michigan, and hopefully we will rock out with Parmalee then.

Barry: Alright man. Sounds good. I appreciate the call, man.

Toddstar: Thanks brother. We’ll talk to you soon.





Top photo credit: Joseph Llanes

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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