Parmalee

Parmalee

Ed Rode

After landing in the Billboard Country Airplay top five with back-to-back singles "Carolina" and "Close Your Eyes," Stoney Creek recording artists Parmalee are shooting for a third straight trip to the upper echelon with "Already Callin' You Mine."

According to Matt Thomas, the song is about the feelings you get early in a new romance. "It's a song that is basically about meeting somebody, and you are just thinking, 'I really like this person. I'm in.' I always say it's like changing your Facebook status from 'single' to 'in a relationship.' That's the easiest one-liner I could come up with to describe it. It's a great choice. It's a tempo song, and right down the pipeline of what we do, and hopefully people can start recognizing our sound."

Billboard caught up with the band during the Country Radio Seminar in Nashville last month, The event, which gives artists a chance to thank radio programmers for their support, reminded member Barry Knox that in this musical climate, success is far from a given.

"It's a big deal. For us, every day seems like a dream, because it took us so long to get a record deal. To see all the work that it takes to create a song that is worthy of getting on the radio, and having a team of people to promote it and support it, that's amazing."

Parmalee Overcomes Near-Fatal Shooting With a 'Carolina' Climb to the Top

Thomas recalls that there was a time -- during the chart run of "Carolina" in 2013 -- that he wasn't so sure there would be a next single. "I think at one point, we might have been in the perils of 'Carolina' sitting just outside of the top 40, but we were about to lose the song. I remember thinking that if people didn't connect with it now, would we get another shot?"

Fortunately for the group, they didn't have to worry, as the single regained traction and eventually topped the Country Airplay chart. "It's very rewarding to know that you have songs out there and people are connecting with your sound and my voice. That's always a juggle. You never know if people are going to like it or not, and when they do, you brush a little bit of the sweat off of your brow, and you're in the game. You just have to present great songs."

2014 was also a year of growth for the group on the touring circuit as well, thanks to support slots on tours with Jake Owen and Brad Paisley. "It was a big deal being able to come out on our first big tour in the second slot," said Josh McSwain. "We are new to this, and just a couple of singles in, so to be direct support for the headliner was a huge pat on the back for us. It's kind of mind-blowing. We never did the opening slot and just went straight to the middle, which was great."

What have those experiences taught the band? "You realize what it takes to do a headlining show in an arena," Thomas said. "We've done big clubs and festivals, but to do your own hard-ticket shows, it takes a lot of big songs to put all those people in the seats. You just understand the value of great songs connecting and all that it takes to make that happen."

With the Paisley tour now in the books, the band is prepared to head overseas to perform for the troops. "I'm so excited," Thomas said. "We've never been overseas, for starters, but to go over there and play for the military is awesome. You always hear about it, but until you get a chance to get over there and experience it... It will change us, but I'm looking forward to it."

And the band's attention is also focused on album number two. "We've just gotten started," said McSwain. "We've written three- or four-hundred, so there's still some whittling down to do, but the process has started."

Thomas laughed when he noted how different the song-selection process is now with some success under their belt. "The songs we're getting now compared to what we got when we first got here are amazing. We're also co-writing a lot more, which is really cool. It's great to know all the songwriters, get in rooms with them, and have them pitch you songs." Needless to say, Parmalee is in a really good place right now, he stresses. "We're happy and so thankful to be where we are. We see how hard the work is, but to be sitting here talking to people is awesome -- and we have things to talk about, which is as it should be."