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March 24, 2019

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Q+A: Parmalee frontman Matt Thomas talks shootout, family, fear of heights


Ed Rode

Scott Thomas, Barry Knox, Matt Thomas and Josh McSwain of North Carolina country band Parmalee.

Click to enlarge photo


Click to enlarge photo


Parmalee Already Callin' You Mine

Parmalee Carolina

It’s an incredible story and obstacle to overcome: North Carolina country band Parmalee were the victims of an attempted robbery in September 2010 after playing a bar in Rock Hill, S.C. They were in their RV when two suspects entered with a handgun demanding money.

Drummer Scott Thomas appeared from the back of the vehicle with his own gun and told them to leave. The gunman opened fire, and Thomas was shot in the shoulder, stomach and leg. Returning fire, both suspects were hit, and one of them was killed.

Thomas was hospitalized in Charlotte, N.C., for 35 days, 10 in a coma, and was given a 5 percent chance of survival. By May 2011, Thomas was well enough to get behind a drum kit for the first time and has since made a nearly full recovery.

Frontman Matt Thomas, Scott’s brother, talked over the phone the day after Memorial Day and ahead of the band’s show tonight at 10 at Gilley’s Saloon & Dance Hall in Treasure Island — he was in the recording studio laying down tracks and took a break to chat.

The topics included the shootout, working with family and his fear of heights. Here is our Q+A:

How was your Memorial Day Weekend — what’d you do?

It was great. We played shows in Tennessee and Long Beach, Calif. The latter was aboard the Queen Mary in an event called “The Ship Kicker.” It was a great crowd and a really good time, but we flew in and flew out.

Congratulations on your new single “Already Callin’ You Mine.”

Yeah, man, thanks, it’s been great. We’re singing it more and hearing it more on the radio. We’ve had three singles on the charts, and this one is following the same path.

It’s all about patience — it’s in the 30s now, and from there we hope that it keeps moving up.

How’d it feel to hit No. 1 with your smash “Carolina”?

It is one of the best accolades you can have. It helped us get a record deal. It’s really great for a career in the long term.

What can Parmalee fans expect from your show at Gilley’s on the Las Vegas Strip on June 4?

It’s going to be a lot of fun. We stayed there a month ago, at Treasure Island, and it was a lot of fun. We’ll have the production with the guitars and three-part harmony. We’re going to have a good time.

How’d the “Country Nation World Tour” go with Brad Paisley?

It wrapped a month ago, a few moths ago, and it was so much fun. Brad is a great guy.

How was it touring with Jake Owen on his 2014 “Days of Gold Tour”?

Aw, man, he’s awesome. It was our first big tour, and it was great. Jake is such a good dude. It was a great experience and to have our name tossed around was incredible.

How was the first tour versus the second tour?

We knew what to expect a little more the second time around, and we stepped up our game. We’re looking forward to the next time.

Parmalee is a family band — your brother Scott Thomas (drums), you on lead vocals and guitar, your cousin Barry Knox (bass) and life-long best friend Josh McSwain (guitar) — what’s the best part of that?

We knows each other’s moves. We’ve been together so long, we know to say it, when to say it and how to say it.

We’re fighting for the same common good, for the good of our band and our families. It’s like being married (laughs).

And the biggest challenge?

Well, it’s family, so being around each other all the time (laughs). Even though we work together all the time, we’re going to see each other at the family reunion, too.

The September 2010 attempted robbery and shootout in South Carolina is an incredible and miraculous story. How is Scott — he’s made a full recovery, correct? And how did the incident affect the band?

He’s still a little sawed up all things considered. It’s made us a lot tighter emotionally, and we learned some rules of life like to lock the doors and to have somebody accompany you when we go about here and there.

Have you been to Las Vegas often — what’s on your must-do list while you’re in town?

We had a couple of days off to hang out there last month. We gamble and have some fun. We love it out there.

Must-do list … well, our tour manager wants us to jump off the Stratosphere, and I am afraid of heights, so I don’t know about that.

Maybe rent some Ferraris, do something ostentatious and hit the jackpot on “Wheel of Fortune.”

Have you ridden the High Roller at the Linq Promenade?

Yeah, that wasn’t so bad (laughs). Our manager was itching for us to do that, too.

What’s in the future for Parmalee along with touring and concerts?

All of the above. We’re writing, producing, working away and making certain that all of our songs slay.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Man, call the stations, request our song. We’re always on social. Say, “Hey!”

Parmalee performs at Gilley’s Saloon & Dance Hall in Treasure Island tonight at 10.

Don Chareunsy is the Las Vegas Sun’s entertainment and luxury senior editor and has been a journalist for nearly two decades.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous fame” has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at

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