How Nikki Sixx Helped Parmalee Embrace Country Music

"We were definitely different than what he had been used to working with."
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Parmalee‘s current single “Carolina” is climbing the country charts, but it took a while for them to find their musical direction.

The band, who took their name from their hometown Parmele, North Carolina, formed in the early ’00s after brothers Matt and Scott Thomas spent years playing alongside their dad in his band. (Cousin Barry Knox and longtime friend Josh McSwain round out the group.) While their early music was grittier and more rock-based, the guys have–of all people–Mötley Crüe‘s Nikki Sixx to thank for going the country route.

While recording at a L.A. studio, their producer called up Sixx to see if he would be willing to lend a hand.

“He came in and wrote some songs with us,” Knox told Radio.com. “We were definitely different than what he had been used to working with.”

McSwain chimed in: “Well, that’s the weirdest thing, what steered our songwriting was a meeting with Nikki Sixx that led us to Nashville. It doesn’t make any sense, but that really is the way it happened.”

Chance meetings, like their session with Sixx, are a theme throughout Parmalee’s rising career, “Carolina” being another example. After several label showcases and subsequent rejection, Matt approached one A&R guy, knowing Parmalee would not be signed.

“Being me, I said, ‘What would you have us do? If you sign us tomorrow, what would you do with us?'”

The label executive said he’d send him down to Atlanta to work with a producer there named Rick Beato. So, Matt called Beato up, booking studio time with the producer and flew to Atlanta on his own dime. After working on a few songs, the band played Beato the demo of “Carolina,” at which point he perked up.

“That’s how that song came about,” Matt said. “That idea I had, we went into the studio and finished it with him. Had I never listened to the advice of this guy, you never know. You have to pick and choose those opportunities and make them happen.”

Parmalee has since been signed to Stoney Creek Records and are currently working on a new album. They promise a fun, feel-good release.

“We’re just at a point in our lives where we just want everyone to have a good time,” Matt said. “We want to write happy, fun songs and I want to smile when I’m singing a song.”

- Annie Reuter, Radio.com