Parmalee’s Matt Thomas Calls ‘Take My Name’ Capturing 2022 Country Airplay Song of the Year Honor ‘Mind-Blowing’

Parmalee’s “Take My Name” is No. 1 on Billboard‘s year-end Country Airplay Songs chart for 2022, and its success caught even the band by surprise.

“It’s a big honor,” says the band’s frontman, Matt Thomas, of the song capturing the title. “Mind-blowing, to be honest with you.” Thomas wrote the song with David Fanning, Ashley Gorley and Ben Johnson. It was produced by Fanning (who is also the group’s manager).

The love song spent two weeks atop the weekly Country Airplay list in June, while it reached No. 2 on the streaming-, airplay- and sales-based Hot Country Songs survey. And it’s still going as it crosses over into pop: “Take My Name” ranks at its No. 23 high on the Dec. 3-dated Adult Pop Airplay chart. “Name” displayed uncommon longevity during its Country Airplay chart run, spending 22 weeks inside the top 10, the fourth-longest top 10 residency since the chart started in January 1990.

“Name,” released on Stoney Creek/BBR, became the band’s third Country Airplay No. 1 and its second straight, following “Just the Way” with Blanco Brown (for a week in March 2021), both of which appear on Parmalee’s 2021 album, For You.  The quartet’s first leader, “Carolina,” ruled for a week in December 2013. The band’s latest single, “Girl in Mine,” is at No. 40 on Country Airplay and is slated to be on Parmalee’s next album.

In addition to Thomas, the band includes his brother Scott Thomas (drums), cousin Barry Knox (bass) and longtime friend Josh McSwain (guitar). All four members hail from Parmalee, N.C. Currently on tour and gearing up to open for Jelly Roll Dec. 9 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena, Billboard caught up with Matt Thomas in Nashville, where the group has been based for the past 11 years.

Did you have any idea when you wrote and recorded “Name” that you had something special?

Well, my brother Scott is the regular listener guy who I lean on for feedback. We played the work tape for him on the bus and he was like, “There’s something here.” I felt like we had something that was right on, too, but as a songwriter you’re never really sure what’s going to connect with people. I mean, you’re always hoping something will hit but no one really knows for sure.

When “Name” was released, you were following up another No. 1, “Just the Way,” with Blanco Brown. That followed a pretty long No. 1 drought, since 2013 when you scored your first leader, “Carolina.” Did you put pressure on yourself to have another hit quickly?

Yeah, I know about the drought (laughs). Yes, in fact we needed this one [“Name”] to be as big or bigger than “Just the Way.” We had to show people we were more than a fluke, a group that has a hit every so many years. We definitely put pressure on ourselves to come up with a hit and keep our career on track.

As the group’s frontman, do you place that extra stress on your shoulders to keep the band moving forward?

Yeah, it’s natural I think because I do a lot of the songwriting. It’s different now, though, because we’ve had back-to-back hits, so lots of people are offering to help.

What about during the span when you didn’t have a hit? What was the atmosphere in the music community like?

It’s definitely more of a challenge to get into the writer’s rooms. But you know what you signed up for, right? It’s kind of a cutthroat business. When you’re hot, people want to work with you, and when you’re not, a handful of loyal friends stick with you while others have written you off. It’s just how it is. Thankfully there were some songwriters who have stuck with us and kept believing. It can be frustrating, but hey, it’s business.

Do you watch the charts?

Are you kidding, yes! I examine the charts every week, even when on the road.

Changing gears, it feels like you have a great relationship with radio.

We do and, honestly, the COVID shutdown helped in a way, because I was able to spend some time with programmers and reconnect on a human level. I wanted to see what was going on in their communities.

“Name” performed well on the multi-metric Hot Country Songs chart. How do you juggle two worlds: TikTok, for instance, and terrestrial radio?

They’re so different, I have to take a drink now and then to clear my head (laughs). It’s a completely different audience between, say, TikTok and your average radio listener. We see that at shows, the mix of younger and older fans. It’s a puzzle that we’re still trying to figure out.

In concert, have you had solid response on your last couple of hits?

When we were out with Walker Hayes in the fall, we noticed great reaction and we’d have whole arenas singing along to “Take My Name.” It was amazing.

You’re playing at Bridgestone next week, opening for Jelly Roll. Is it your first show there?

We’ve never played Bridgestone before, so we’re both excited and nervous. We just need Jelly to come out and give us his blessing.

Your new single “Girl in Mine” will be on an upcoming album, correct? And are you working on that currently?

Yes, I have a bunch of great fun songs already, I think, and I’m going to be doing lots of writing in January and February. We’re shooting for early summer [to release an album].

Is it still a thrill hearing your music on the radio?

Always, man. In fact, I was just on my way to a writer’s room yesterday and driving through east Nashville checking out the neighborhoods and “Take My Name” came on the radio. I was grinning ear to ear. It never gets old.

What about touring next year?

We’ve got some good things on the burner, and hopefully we’ll have some news soon.

Melinda Newman