At 47, Dail Croome walked away from a career in the oil and gas sector to chase a dream alongside his two sons. Their goal was to make it in the music biz. That was two years ago. These days, their band Daring Greatly, with its “hippie rock” sound, played at the National Music Centre in Calgary after opening for Bon Jovi in Las Vegas. Croome spoke to The Globe and Mail’s Allan Maki.
What compelled you to make such a drastic career change?
There are always personal circumstances that make you brave enough to change yourself – the downturn in the oil and gas business, the personal awakening, things I wasn’t in love with. And a change in relationship status, let’s call it. The boys were finished high school. Liam wasn’t crazy about the idea of going to college yet. Patrick had just finished his junior hockey career and Brayden [Tario, the drummer] had gone through his first year of engineering and was thinking of not going back. And Brandon [Haddow, guitar] was open to doing something adventurous. So it was the perfect storm for all five of us to be available enough to even have the conversation. We knew it was big and that made it all the more exciting. Not many people have an opportunity to do it; not many people have the fearlessness to do it.
Did any of your corporate buddies try to talk you out of your rock ’n roll fantasy?
Everybody knew I have a bit of a track record of being outside the norm, even within the oil and gas business. I started three different companies, was president of two different companies and made the things that most people who are money-motivated or status-motivated probably wouldn’t have made. Some of them worked out, some of them didn’t. The honest truth is I’ve always questioned this whole thing. When I finished university [in Guelph, Ont.], I left and went to Nashville, not for being a star, I just wanted to do something different. I was a bit of a romantic. I saw the world being a little bit more exciting than what most people were living and then, when I came back, I hid in my log cabin for six months and tried to engineer an interesting life. And finally, I sort of gave in to doing the expected thing … I got to be married and have my two kids. This whole thing is happening now because of that.
How did you end up opening for Bon Jovi?
There [was a contest where bands sent in videos] with pretty specific rules: It had to be a five-minute-or-less live video of an original song showing that you can engage a crowd. Some of our friends and fans told us about it and we do have the philosophy you can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket. So we threw our name in there. It wasn’t that much work to put it together because we video just about everything anyway. We had a library of videos to choose from … They told us that the staff, out of thousands [of videos], narrowed it down to five and they gave the five finalists to Jon Bon Jovi and he chose the ones that were going to open. I started to get butterflies right around 7:30 p.m. because I knew they were going to call us and bring us underneath the stage. We were hyper-aware of all these really cool details of the night. There were about 50 people from San Diego County [where the band had relocated] and about 50 people from Canada who flew in to support us. They were screaming up and down, and that really felt special because we weren’t alone. And then it just started to become fun after that.
How did the band perform?
We got to play 20 minutes and they were quite strict that the lights were going to go off at 8 p.m. – ‘Go play your 20 minutes, but one second more we’re going to shut you off.’ We had gone through the timing, and we knew it took 21½ minutes to get through the four songs we wanted to play. So we whispered in the producer’s ear that we were at 21½ minutes. We were told, “You absolutely can’t go after 8:20 p.m.” He said, ‘As soon as the lights go off, you guys go on.’ We were supposed to go on at 8 p.m. We went on at 7:58 p.m. and played all four songs, and we were done exactly at 8:20 p.m., and were really happy with the way we had represented ourselves.
So what’s next for Daring Greatly?
When we left the U.S., we needed to make this big, beautiful dream of what we’re going to do. We said, ‘Let’s do this One Town at a Time world tour.’ This tour is perpetual; three to five years, just go around and organically get fans and share our music. Live an inspiring and inspired life and live an interesting life so we have something inspiring to write about. … We want to recreate the connection between artist and audience as it was in the sixties and seventies. You want the art to reflect what people are going through.