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The Dales – Three Part Harmony, Unlimited Good Vibes
Friday, March 20, 2020

Attending a concert of the L.A.-based folk band The Dales is a truly beautiful experience.

The gorgeous three part harmonies of Preston Pope, Jackie Tozzi, and Drew Lawrence (photo: L to R) create an atmosphere that emulates the title of their latest EP – Easy Times.

The band has been spending much of their time spreading their good vibes on the road, and seem destined for heavy rotation on CMT.

I caught up with all three members of The Dales before their recent show at Stage One at Fairfield Theatre Company, and they opened up about the circuitous route they took to linking up with Jackie, who joined the group last year, how we can all find some Easy Times in life, and the dangers of staying at a hotel past check-out.

Oh, and then there’s what happens when you Google Preston Pope, and discover there’s another, much more notorious, man with the same name.

First off, Preston, have you ever Googled your name?

Preston: Yes, actually.

So you know I’m about to ask you about the other Preston Pope.

Preston: The more famous Preston Pope. He’s like a murderer, right?


Jackie: WHAT!

Drew: Oh no!

He’s serving two life sentences plus 160 years in Omaha.

Preston: Maybe that’s why we haven’t been asked to play there. They’ll arrest me on the spot.

You were originally a five piece Americana roots-rock band. Now you’re a three piece group with a focus on vocal harmonies. While all these changes were happening were you ever like, “Are we still The Dales, or do we need a new name?”

Drew: That’s a good question.

Preston: The recipe has always been the three part harmony, that’s the foundation of it. What’s nice is we can scale up for the bigger shows, and scale down for intimate shows.

Drew: Preston and I have been working together for 12 years in various projects, so I don’t think it ever occurred to us to change the name of it, or if it had become something different.

How did you two and Jackie find each other, and what was the transition like when she joined the group?

Jackie: That was a fate situation.

Drew: I met Jackie in Hot Springs (California), in the middle of the desert at this watering hole, and my friend was trying to hit on her, to no avail.

Jackie: It was a failed attempt.

Drew: He was trying to get me to be the wingman for him, but anyways, she remembered my email and reached out to me to possibly get together to work on music.

So it kinda worked in reverse. He ended up your wingman for getting a new singer.

Jackie: Yes.

Drew: What’s interesting is this was four years ago, on that very same trip I heard Brandi Carlisle’s “The Eye,” three part harmony, and I was like damn, I want to do a band that (does that). So it’s kind of serendipitous, because on that trip is when I had the idea to put together a three part harmony band, and I actually met Jackie.

She reached out to me, and like a real big dick I didn’t respond for a year.


Drew: I totally spaced on it. Then I was driving up to Mammoth (Lakes) a year later and I was like oh my God, I never responded to that email.

It was still somewhere in your inbox?

Drew: Yeah.

Preston: This was back before his Gmail was full and he has to delete all his messages.

Drew: Then another couple years go by, but last summer … our previous singer works full time, and the tours were getting longer, we’re playing more, we wanted to step it into high gear, and schedule-wise it wasn’t gonna work (for her). We knew it wasn’t gonna work, and it’s really kind of scary, because that’s our sound, the three voices, and we’re losing one of the voices, the female voice, which is a very prevalent part of our sound. We were nervous because we had a tour booked and we knew that she was kind of starting to distance herself. We knew she was leaving.

At this point Jackie and I had finally connected. She’d come to my studio to work on music, and I said, “Would you have any interest in being in a band that tours all around the country and makes hardly any money, and you’d be stuck in vans for hours and hours and hours with stinky dudes, and sleeping on people’s couches?” She’s like, “YEEEEAAH!”

Jackie: {laughs}

Drew: She was. She was like, “I’ve always wanted that!”

So was it everything he pitched it to be?

Jackie: Oh it was. It was, and more. The melding of our voices together was magical, too. It could’ve gone in a really bad direction where I just didn’t fit.

Drew: It’s been really really … actually it’s been too easy a transition. You asked how hard the transition was? It was hard thinking about the prospect of losing our singer, and then it couldn’t have been easier with Jackie, who just stepped in and learned three part harmony for a whole hour and a half show, and just jumped right in.

We’re like yeah, we’re leaving on tour in three weeks, so here’s all of our songs.

And you’d never performed as a musician before.

Jackie, I was about to ask you what were you doing musically before this?

Jackie: I was not doing anything musically. {laughs}

Drew: She came to my studio for some vocal coaching a couple times.

Jackie: I’ve always messed around a little bit on the guitar, and a little bit of music here and there playing with friends. I did a backup gig for a friend who was in a festival one time. Very sporadic here and there.

This has been five months of diving into something very very new.

What were your thoughts jumping into an already established group?

Jackie: I think my thought was just to trust myself, and I got a really good vibe from the two of them, and it felt good, so I (said) I’ll take this day by day, and it kept feeling good, and it’s continued to feel good. It’s amazing.

Drew: Then she Googled Preston Pope and went OH FUCK!

Jackie: {laughs}

Your current vibe is all about optimism and hope. What led to you wanting to make this a central theme of your music?

Drew: I think just in general the news is so fucking depressing, and there’s so much of our time each day that we’re thinking about the negativity, so I thought about making the music to be an outlet to get away from that, and to just focus on the good times. I think we all kind of need that.

Easy Times is the new EP. Where can people find the easy times in their lives?

Drew: I think it’s really about treasuring the moments with the people you love, and being present. It’s one thing I’m always asking myself – am I present? Am I here right now, or am I thinking about other shit? I think that’s where you find the most joy, just trying to be in the moment, present, with people you love.

So throw your technology away.

Drew: Put the phone down. Yeah.

Drew and Preston, you two have previously been in bands together. Having experienced band drama with the projects of your past, what have been some of the lessons you’ve learned that have helped quell, or even outright avoid, band drama in the present?

Drew: Preston and I have never dated each other, so we feel like that’s helped.

Preston: Also, the resistance. You’ve been talking about that a lot.

Drew: I’ve been talking a lot about the resistance, which I think is what Easy Times is about – overcoming the resistance, or being aware of it, and figuring out how to get around it, how to have less resistance in your life.

In this business there are so many “no’s,” and you have to be crazy to keep going with all that adversity, being told you can’t get in this festival, you can’t do this, you can’t, you can’t, you can’t. Letting go of all that, and just moving forward and thinking positive, like alright, what can we do? We can do this, we can make that happen, and having a team of people that are hungry and working hard to do it with ya.

Drew, you’ve also worked with a number of mainstream artists, including co-writing Christina Perri’s “Jar of Hearts.” Is there a big difference in terms of the way you write for mainstream acts and the way you write for The Dales, other than the fact that you’re working with three part harmony with The Dales?

Drew: 100%. Those pop sessions were crafted for radio. You’re always trying to write a radio single. That’s not ever really my main focus with The Dales. Of course we want to have memorable songs, but we’re not listening to like KISS FM trying to figure out how we can get on there.

With us it’s just really important that it’s genuine.

Preston: And not necessarily self-indulgent, but fulfilling.

You’re all veterans of various stages, so I’m sure you all have tour stories – whether it’s van trouble, a wild night you’re surprised you survived …

Drew: Defrauding the innkeeper (in Morro Bay, CA).

Preston: {laughs}

What’s this story all about?

Preston: Well, we learned that, first of all, that’s a law – defrauding an innkeeper.

Drew: (Two members of the band stayed) past check-out time, and she called the police.

It wasn’t us. The two members that are no longer with us, they were in their room, the rest of us went to breakfast, and they just didn’t get their shit together. They didn’t get out of there, and there had been some complaints about people being loud the night before.

And of course it was the vocal harmony group that was tearing it up the night before.

Drew: Just going full Guns N’ Roses on the place. {laughs}

So they didn’t get out of the room, and next thing you know he’s calling us saying the police are there telling them they had to get out or pay another night.

We also ran out of gas like three times on one tour within like a one week period.

Preston: That was on me.

Drew: And he’s the most responsible (person). This is the guy who gets to the airport like three hours early.

The first time we ran out of gas was in the middle of the New Jersey Turnpike.

Preston: Every car I’ve ever driven, when it gets to empty you can still go. This went to empty and the car just stopped.

Drew: And then it happened in Philadelphia.

Preston: I was on my way to the gas station.

Drew: We didn’t want to be late for load in, so we didn’t get gas on the way there. We were like, “There’s plenty of gas. We can’t be late!”

We get there, and (after loading in) he drives down the street, and the fucking thing stops again. {laughs}

You can see the van. It’s gone like two blocks. It happened twice in one week!

That’s hilarious, and awful, all at once. Now I have a truly important question for you – how do you think Pitbull would pronounce your band’s name?

Band: The DAH-LAYS!

None of you are named Dale, so I find it interesting that you are The Dales.

Jackie: That’s an intoxicated alter-ego (of Drew). (That’s) a Dale.

Drew: This was back in my 20s.

Preston: The joke would be, “Dale’s here.”

Drew: Dale is when the night is getting a little long in the tooth, and gets a little weird.

Jackie: A little whiskey, a little tequila, {country accent} Coors Lights.

Drew: When comments are unharnessed, opinions fly violently.

Preston: When we started this band we were trying to come up with a name and we were joking that we all have a little bit of Dale in us.

Jackie: Yeah, everybody has a wild side.

Drew: I think my wife named us. She said, “You guys should just be The Dales,” and it was like, oh, we can do that. We really lived up to it the first year, but we’ve learned how to pace ourselves. We’re doing more of an adult style touring, at least compared to how we used to do it.

For more of The Dales, check out thedalesband.com, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:00 AM  
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