Show’s on the road

The question Matt Thomas of Parmalee hears most from fans is, “When can I get your album?”

He finally has an answer.

“Middle of January,” Thomas said during a phone interview. “It just got official in the past three weeks.”

Thomas was calling from a recording studio in Nashville, where the band was putting the finishing touches on that album, which doesn’t have a title yet.

It will have two hit singles.

“Musta Had a Good Time” cracked the top 40 on the Billboard Country Airplay chart last summer, and its raucous party video got plenty of airplay on CMT. The second single, the ballad “Carolina,” currently is at number 21 and rising on Billboard’s Country Airplay chart.

Parmalee – featuring brothers Matt Thomas, lead vocals and guitar, and Scott Thomas, drums, along with their cousin Barry Knox, bass, and long-time friend Josh McSwain, guitar, and named after their hometown in North Carolina – reflects the current attitude in the music business, where labels are hesitant to invest the cost of recording and releasing an album by an unproven act.

“That’s kind of the program now for Nashville artists,” Thomas said. “That’s how they do it. Put out a single and see if it goes up the charts.”

The one advantage to waiting to release its debut for Stoney Creek Records is that Parmalee should have a fan base already in place from the radio exposure and extensive touring, which includes a show tonight at Stambaugh Auditorium.

The album, like the band’s live show, reflects the diversity hinted at in those two singles.

“It falls right in between them,” Thomas said. “It’s a perfect representation of everything between ‘Musta Had a Good Time’ and ‘Carolina.’ As a band, we have those two sides to us. We wrote songs that felt good to us. We want everyone to have a good time at the show. We want everyone smiling.”

The guys in Parmalee have been playing together since 2001 and released three EPs on their own. One of the people they wrote with was Motley Crue bass player Nikki Sixx, who was a friend of the producer they were working with at the time.

“It was kind of surreal,” Thomas said. “Whoa, man, we all got back into our fan mode ‘Wow, it’s Nikki Sixx’ … We learned how someone like that, someone who’s constantly writing, constantly touring, we got to see how they work and picked up ideas.”

Parmalee’s career nearly ended in 2010, when two men pulled guns on the band and tried to rob the group following a show in Nashville. Scott Thomas, who had a conceal carry permit, pulled his weapon. One of two robbers was killed, and Thomas and the other robber were wounded.

“The first night was the worst,” his brother said. “The doctors gave him a five percent chance of survival.”

Scott Thomas spent 40 days in the hospital, several in a coma. His first show after the shooting was the band’s showcase for Broken Bow Records, which signed Parmalee for its Stoney Brook Records subsidiary.

At that point, the members of Parmalee still were working day jobs, and the Thomas brothers had a logging business. Because they were working with chainsaws and other dangerous equipment, Scott Thomas got health insurance seven days before the shooting.

He still was left with thousands of dollars in medical expenses, which fans and fellow musicians helped to pay, but nothing like the $500,000 in expenses he would have faced.

“We just took it day by day. It was tough but we kept looking forward.”