Parmalee’s Matt Thomas Talks RV Living, Working With Nikki Sixx & Hotdamalama


When I interview a group or artist, I always listen to all the music that I can find by them to really familiarize myself or re-familiarize myself with their music before doing the actual interview. And I have to admit it. I have a brand new favorite song, and that song is “Think You Oughta Know That,” by Parmalee. I just can’t stop listening to that song. I get to see Parmalee for the first time live tomorrow night and here’s hoping they do that song. *Fingers crossed* I got the chance to talk to Matt Thomas, the lead singer of Parmalee yesterday. Surviving a tragic, violent incident, living in an RV and scraping by on the money they earned from odd jobs, Parmalee managed to make it in Nashville and score several Top 10 hits. Here’s a little piece of their remarkable story.

Parmalee’s Matt Thomas Talks RV Living, Working With Nikki Sixx & Hotdamalama

Eat Play Rock: I’m excited to see you guys in concert on Saturday. Also, I found this interesting. Is it true that you lived in an RV for a month when you moved to Nashville?

Matt Thomas: Oh yeah, we’d go out there and stay in the RV for however long we could until our money ran out and then we’d drive back home and go do odd jobs and make enough money to go back out there. That’s pretty much how we had to do it.

Eat Play Rock: Wow. That’s awesome and that’s dedication. So, you guys are from the east side of North Carolina. I am from the northwestern part of North Carolina, myself. And you logged local forests?

Matt Thomas: Yeah, we did. My brother and I did. We used to be lumberjacks. Josh did construction and Barry helped his dad in his hardware business. Small town stuff.

Eat Play Rock: I bet you probably don’t miss that, right?

Matt Thomas: Hmmmm.. I was just talking about it a minute ago. No, I don’t miss it. I love the woods, I mean, I love trees and woods, but when it was good it was good and that was fine. There was a lot of struggling going on and that wasn’t fun.

Eat Play Rock: Right. So what do you miss from the small town?

Matt Thomas: Well, I miss the beach because we live in Nashville now. I miss being able to drive out to the beach, you know, within an hour. And then, that’s probably the biggest thing. And good home cooking, obviously. And family. Everybody’s back there.

Eat Play Rock: Do you get to go to the beach very often? Like do you play shows at the beach regularly?

Matt Thomas: Yeah we do, I mean, enough. Here and there we get to go. But it’s not our beaches. It’s just different ones.

Eat Play Rock: So you’ve had over 340 million streams just on Pandora. I mean, how do you even wrap your head around that number?

Matt Thomas: It’s crazy, yeah. It’s awesome to know that your music is out there and people can hear it. And that they are listening to it. Yeah, it’s great.

Eat Play Rock: How did your collaboration with Nikki Sixx come about? And how do you think it affected your music?

Matt Thomas: It was for a producer that we worked with 10 years ago, I think, in LA. He was friends with him. He called him in to write some songs. It’s cool, you know. He was one of our people we watched growing up on MTV and stuff, great songwriter, as well. So, it’s just good to be able to just sit down and be able to write a song with somebody you grew up idolizing or whatever from one of your favorite bands. So, it’s cool.

Eat Play Rock: Did you feel weird at all. Like, did you have a moment of, “Oh my gosh! That’s Nikki Sixx?”

Matt Thomas: Oh, hell yeah! As soon as he walked in. Yep. It was neat.

Eat Play Rock: So, all of the members of the band grew up together, but are all of you close enough in age to have actually gone to school together?

Matt Thomas: Yeah, we did. Josh and I went to East Carolina, Scott went to Wayne Tech, I think and Barry went to Pitt Community for a little while. We all grew up in East Carolina, that was the hub. That was the spot.

Eat Play Rock: And you and your brother were in a band with your dad, too? Like what kind of music did ya’ll play?

Matt Thomas: It was Southern Rock, soul, blues, you know, the Eastern North Carolina music. A lot of soul and blues, rock and roll and stuff. Country, Southern Soul is what I call it. It kind of bends into country and blues, R&B and rock and all that.


Eat Play Rock: And your single, “Carolina” was re-released from where you had released it yourselves before. Was it kind of weird to have a song re-released? I mean, did you feel like..

Matt Thomas: Oh no, that was great. That’s what generally should happen, I guess. We re-recorded it and added some things and it was great. Our release, all we could do was just regionally, you know. And having it nationally released was big, huge.

Eat Play Rock: What is the coolest part of having your own headlining tour now?

Matt Thomas: You know, just getting to interact with your real fans, the people who are 100% there to see you. That’s when you get to see who’s out there really supporting you.

Eat Play Rock: So what kind of decisions do you get to make now that you had no input in when you were opening for someone else?

Matt Thomas: Oh it’s all on us. I mean, opening for somebody else, you just kind of… you get to plan the show out how you want it. You are not constricted to time limits or anything in particular. Everything’s in your court so however you want to do it, there really are no rules. It’s whatever you want to do.

Eat Play Rock: So, who have you toured with that you really enjoyed touring with most?

Matt Thomas: Jake Owen is a good friend of ours. We went out with him. Him and Brad [Paisley] were great. They were both great to us. It’s cool getting to meet these guys and then becoming friends and getting on these tours.

Eat Play Rock: So, Hotdamalama. How did you come up with that? I like it.

Matt Thomas: [laughs] It’s a phrase, I don’t know, it just came out. We were jiving and talking and it means you see something and it amazes you, it’s like Hotdamalama! It’s a derivative of Hot damn! I guess. Hot damn, almighty! and all these phrases you hear people say.

Eat Play Rock: So, is it true that you used to play in a cement block barn growing up?

Matt Thomas: Yeah, that’s how we got started. A little barn in Parmale, North Carolina.

Eat Play Rock: So, how was the sound in there?

Matt Thomas: [laughs] Like brick walls.

Eat Play Rock: And you came back from a violent incident where you were almost robbed. Was there ever a time when you thought it might be over for the band?

Matt Thomas: No, I mean, if Scott would have died [editor’s note: Scott Thomas was shot in the attempted robbery and spent an extended period in the hospital] we probably still would have had to keep on keeping on. What keeps us going, kept us going and still does. So, I really never thought of that.

Eat Play Rock: And I am really glad that he recovered. That’s really awesome that he could still continue on in the band afterwards.

Matt Thomas: Oh absolutely. It is.


Eat Play Rock: So tell us about your new music.

Matt Thomas: Our new album, 27861, is out. Our new single, “Sunday Morning,” is out. Go to the website and check it out. It’s available on all streaming services. And we will be playing new music Saturday night.

You can see Parmalee locally Saturday Night in Southern Pines, NC. You can check out their complete tour schedule here.

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About Dawn McAlexander

Dawn has been a music lover her entire life. She went to college in Boone, NC, an area that is rich in music and culture. She also worked as a radio deejay for 8 years and grew up in Southeastern, Va, a melting pot of different musical styles and traditions. She has been to more concerts than she can count in every genre you can imagine. She resides in North Carolina with her furbabies and her massive collection of Disney memorabilia.


  1. Sherry White says

    Great article! I have seen Parmalee many times and they are AWESOME! It was great to get a little insight about their Hotdamalama tour and their work with Nikki Sixx. Thanks and enjoy the concert on Saturday. I wish I could be there too! Anyone who hasn’t gotten their new CD, 27861, I highly recommend it!

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