With multiple No. 1 songs to their credit, including their first "Carolina" and most recent "Girl In Mine," Parmalee has become one of country music's most constant and consistent hitmakers. However, the group has shied away from sharing their harrowing backstory until now.
Over the weekend, Parmalee debuted the deeply personal video for their new song "Gonna Love You." The video depicts the attempted bus robbery early in the band's career in which drummer Scott Thomas shot and killed one assailant, wounded another, and sustained a gunshot wound that nearly took his life – all in the months leading up to their Nashville showcase.
Parmalee members said they chose now to share their story because they typically release happy, up-tempo music. This is the first radio single they believe naturally fits the somber tale. However scary, it does have a happy ending.
"They stepped into the RV screaming, 'Give me the cash,'" singer Matt Thomas said. "I said, 'I don't have any cash. I don't have any cash.'"
Matt had heard someone knock on the RV's door. It was late at night in 2010, and the band had just finished a show in a bar where they made $15. Members wished the paycheck had been bigger, but they had just added a new song, "Carolina" to their set. They were confident the song would be their breakthrough hit.
When Matt heard the knock on the door, he hoped the bar owner had made a mistake with their paycheck and was circling back to give them the rest of their money. When he opened the door, two men wearing bandanas pointed a gun at his head.
The robber fired his gun in the RV. Matt shouted for his brother Scott Thomas, who had his carry permit and his pistol tucked under his bunk.
"I walked up to him, and a gunfight ensued," Scott said. "He was shooting at me, and then I was shooting, trying to get both guys."
Scott killed one of the masked men but was shot in the stomach, the chest, and through an artery. Matt miraculously escaped unscathed.
"So here we are at the highest point of our career, just thinking we're going to get a record deal," Scott said.
"Then this all happens in a flash, and he's on the couch bleeding out," Matt added.
Following the shooting, Scott was airlifted to a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the middle of the night. He received two blood transfusions in transit, and when his bandmates arrived at the hospital, they were told Scott had a five percent chance of survival. The drummer was in a coma for 10 days and endured surgery on the leg he uses for the kick drum to save it from amputation.
Scott was in the hospital for 40 days and had to learn how to walk again. Five months later, he hobbled on stage to play a showcase with Parmalee for Broken Bow Records – who signed them immediately.
"I mean, it's the end of the world," Scott said. "We're never going to play again. I might not be able to walk again. I might not even live. So that just tells you how things can turn around."
They added: "That is our story. That's the story you're hearing -- what we've been through and sticking it out. Same four guys, too, not nobody else in the band."
"Gonna Love You" is from the band's new album "For You 2," which, at 18 songs deep, is the deluxe version of the band's third studio project, "For You," released in 2021.
The group - comprised of brothers Matt Thomas (guitar/lead vocals) and Scott Thomas (drums), along with their cousin Barry Knox (bass) and life-long friend Josh McSwain (guitar) - has accumulated more than 1 billion on-demand streams and No. 1 hits including their breakthrough hit "Carolina," the Blanco Brown collaboration "Just The Way" and "Take My Name" in addition to "Girl In Mine." All but "Carolina" are on "For You 2."
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