June 20, 2014 Interview – Rick DeJesus of Adelitas Way
There is no substitute for hard work, a hands on approach, and thirsty desire to make dreams reality. Las Vegas, Nevada based hard rock band, Adelitas Way have taken that working class approach to their music since 2006. After their chart topping album Home School Valedictorian (2011), relentless performing among the biggest rock tours in North America, and an explosive desire to rock-n-roll, the band is ready to take the reins as one of rock’s elite. Led by passionate and charismatic vocalist, Rick DeJesus, a never say die attitude has become the unwritten rule for this dynamic band. Now in 2014 Adelitas Way is ready to take their biggest step forward with more extensive tour plans and the release of their highly anticipated album Stuck, due out due July 29th. Recently we sat down with DeJesus about his vision for the band, pride in rock-n-roll, their new album, and much more.
CrypticRock.com – Adelitas Way has been plugging away now for eight years. In that time the band has achieved success with two albums, a series of popular rock radio singles, and extensive touring among the top rock festivals in North America. How would you describe the path the band has been on over the past five years?
Rick DeJesus – The first thing I always like to do is realize I am blessed, we are blessed to go out and play music and have amazing fans. I also realize that we did it the good old traditional way. I see bands now a day, their first live show is on Leno or Jimmy Kimmel. Some bands blow up, they come and go, some blow up and hang around. I am proud of the way we went out and started out in a van, we played shows in front of no one, we toured for a year before anyone knew who we were. We built it through grass roots touring, fan interaction, and rock radio. The great thing about it is, to the mass media, rock bands are like black sheep. The thing is rock-n-roll bands are like the cockroaches of the business, we build real fan bases, you cannot get rid of us. I think what I am proud of most in our journey up until this point is that we have toured all across the US and Canada and have built a real following and fan base of people that cannot be taken away from us. We had such real support on our first two albums that I think everything before us was building up to now. I think this third record that we made will be something that defines us as artists in our path forward. I think the first two albums were an amazing setup for us.
It is amazing to see the growth and be part of it. When I first started this, I really did not know what to expect. I never had grand visions, I never thought we were going to be on a bus on our first tour, or that we would blow up overnight. I always had the mentality of preparing for war, and that is exactly what we got. We went in, played in clubs in front of 8 people, to 800 people, up to 8,000 people, and we just built it constantly with grass roots touring.
CrypticRock.com – That is something to be proud of it. You put the hard work in and it is showing. That is what makes it more redeeming that you put that hard work in and you are reaping the benefits as time goes on.
Rick DeJesus – It just gives you a longer career. No one can take away what you have earned. I took a year off to have my daughter. We have been off for a year and four months and our fans have been thirsting for music. In the other world, some of these pop bands, they leave for a year and a half and they are completely forgotten about; they are remembered for the one song they did. Rock bands have it a little better. We are the better long term bet for business. I think it is going to take a few bands to really shift the pendulum. If you listen to Top 40, alternative radio, or even some rock radio now, everyone is kind of running toward what is hot right now. They are all trying to put on every band that sounds like a Lion King soundtrack. It is only a matter of time until it gets over-saturated, you cannot tell things apart from each other, and rock-n-roll comes and takes what is ours. There are bands right now that I love and I think are putting the work in to take over. You have bands like Halestorm, Alter Bridge, and us that are not really getting massive promotion, but we are still selling a couple 100,000 records and millions of singles, and that is with minimal mass media. They are not spending ten million dollars to force us on Vogue magazine or every cover of every magazine. We are lucky if we get one or zero, you cannot stop bands like that. We are going to sell records because we are pounding the ground.
CrypticRock.com – That is very true. The debut self-titled album received a great buzz, but your sophomore effort Home School Valedictorian (2011) really was a break out with four powerful singles. Three years later, what do you think made that record so potent?
Rick DeJesus – I think we made the right record. I think our first record was a great effort to start the buzz and build everything. I look back and I am proud of every record we ever made, but you certainly grow from record to record. You find yourself as an artist and you realize what you are capable of as far as challenging yourself. I really challenged myself to write a great record on Home School Valedictorian, I think it showed that we grew, and we made a better effort. We put the same pressure on ourselves, maybe even more on the third album, because we have a chip on our shoulders. We are tired of seeing rock music a little bit in the black sheep zone. I hear Lzzy Hale of Halestorm or Brent Smith of Shinedown write songs that are such great songs, that if a pop artist sang them, everyone else would take them in. They would think it was an amazing song and smash hit. The fact that you have rock vocalist on the songs, they immediately almost get written off because it is a rock band or a rock song. We are battling through that constantly with every effort we make. I do not know if many people know there is a stigmata, but we have tried to get on Jimmy Kimmel a few times and we have been straight laughed at. They would tell us they are not doing rock music right now. It is almost as if people are so against having that type of voice of a rock vocalist or a guitarist being heard. The main focus I had on Home School Valedictorian and the third record was just making special songs for our audience, songs that are so good that it is tough to deny them.
CrypticRock.com – You have definitely achieved that and your motivation will continue to have the band achieve that. The band has sustained some line-up changes over the years with the departure of Keith Wallen and Derek Johnston within the past year. It is very common for bands to have changing pieces in the early stages of their career. Do you feel that storm has finally settled and the current line-up will be together a while now?
Rick DeJesus – I do, but here is the thing people do not realize about music today. Back in the 80’s, 90’s, and even early 2000’s there was so many rewards for being in a band. There was so much money floating around and people treated musicians like gods. We came in the dark ages of music, our debut album came out in 2009 where illegal downloads were at their peak. You go out and live in a van in the beginning. You live in tough conditions and there is not a ton of money being thrown around. The thing is to keep the band together, you have to find five guys who are doing it just for the fans and just for the thrill of playing the live show. There are no double stacked tour buses and thousand dollar a day per diems. You literally have to go out there with your blood, sweat, and tears. Sometimes it is just not worth it for people to be away from their families and sacrifice so much when the rewards are that of a normal job. Some artists come out on the road and they make the same money a normal job would make, but you get to play music for a living. Playing music for a living has to be a enough for you. For me, I love music so much that when I started out I was playing for negative money. I was losing money on tours because I loved to play and knew what we were capable of.
In regards to the loss of Keith, Keith is great musician and I loved playing with him, his thing was he wanted to try it on his own. He wanted to try his own thing, he wanted to try and see if he can do it and be the frontman of his own band. I fully support him. I do not think on the new record we lost much. On previous efforts, they were not really involved in the writing or recording of the records. Keith brought something to the live show, but I also think we added really strong players. Robert is an amazing guitar player and live performer. I think we balanced it out. We have Andrew now, who I think, is the best bass player that I have ever played with. I think we are going to come out even tighter and more well rounded on this next record. I think it will be a better fit for us. I have nothing but love for the guys who I have played with in the past. I really cherish the stage with everyone I ever played with. I love music and I will not stop, some people will come and some people will go because the rewards may not be high enough for them. Being on the stage has always been enough for me. I leave a wife and a baby behind as well, it gets hard at times but I always power through it.
CrypticRock.com – Of course, it has to be difficult to be on the road. Obviously it takes a great deal of passion and dedication. As stated, you have been on some of the biggest rock tours in North America in the past few years with bands such as Shinedown, Creed, Gun N’ Roses, Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Sick Puppies, Deftones, and so many more. What have you learned from the heavy touring, playing with so many big name rock bands, and in front of large crowds?
Rick DeJesus – Watching bands like that I learned what it takes to be great and capture your audience. Also, how good you have to be to set yourself apart from everyone else. I think we are doing that, our live show is one of the reasons we have built what we have built so far. I think it is very energetic and is easy for people to get lost in our live performance. Playing with bands of that caliber, you realize what it takes and how high the bar is set for yourself to perform; it takes hit songs and great performances. We are in the era where you do not have to be necessarily talented to break, there are some acts out there who cannot even sing and cannot even perform. We do not like to have that mentality, we like to have the opposite mentality that we can go out there and play our instruments, perform these songs the way they are suppose to, and we can go out there and put on something magical. I know it is lacking from some other shows people are going out and seeing. Rock-n-roll has something magical that is real and live. I learned what it takes to send special messages, connect with the fans, and really go out and put on gut-wrenching live performances vocally. We are trying to make our mark on today’s music. I want people to look back on this era, 20-30 years from now, and want them to consider us one of the elite bands of this time. I want them to say, “I saw that band they we were amazing”. I want them to say, “Every record they put out was better and better”. To make albums that change people’s lives, that is what I am shooting for when I create music.
CrypticRock.com – Those are some excellent standards and goals to reach. You recently released the single “Dog On A Leash” for the new album Stuck. The track is slightly different than work you have done before. It is still Adelitas Way, but comes across much heavier. With that said, what can fans expect from the forthcoming album?
Rick DeJesus – A great balance. We are not going to go out there and start making complete heavy metal music. We are going to stick to who we are. I am a very emotional man and have a lot of sides to me. I am a father, lover, and a husband. I love life, but I always have angst because life is tough. I try to use everything I go through in my life, which I know everyone goes through in their life , and try to connect with our audience so they realize they are not alone; they are going through it, everyone is going through it. I also see through the eyes of my friends; if something is bothering them I can almost feel their pain and what they are going through. Sometimes I write through the eyes of others.
I think the one thing people can expect from this album is, I am boldly going to say, this is going to be our best record. I confidently believe that, everyone we have played it for has been blown away. I have never felt the support of the record like I felt on this album. Anyone who has heard the songs off it, the first thing they say is, “Wow, this is going to be the record that is going to change your lives”. I have very high expectations for this third record. We worked really hard on it. We spent a year and four months writing and creating it. We jammed it every day and practicing it for hours.
We worked with Nicholas Raskulinecz on the production of it. Nick’s big thing was making the record sound organic and making sure we can play it properly live. That is one of the reasons we had line-up changes as well. We went in with Nick, he did not say we are going to allow editing on this album. We had to perform it exactly the way it would be performed live. We were constantly beating up the arrangements for 6-7 hours a day playing live. We pushed ourselves on every facet on this album. Chris Lord-Alge mixed the whole thing, the first time we had a mixer of his caliber do an entire record. Everyone believes in what we are doing. We wanted to create something special for rock music, for ourselves, and our fans. I think we accomplished that.
The record does not have one set tone either. You are not going to just get one angry album. There are feel good songs on it, there are angst songs on it, it is going to be thirteen songs that are just an escape for people. We made a thirteen song album, it is not just a bunch of singles. It is not just a bunch of songs you can scatter through. It is an experience you can get lost in; it is an escape from reality for the fans.
CrypticRock.com – That sounds very exciting. Being a musician in 2014 has its positives and negatives. The positive being a broader base of people can discover your music with the internet and all the social networking. The negative being the true art of an album has been diminished with physical albums not being purchased as much anymore. Does this make it difficult and frustrating for you as a musician to put together a full cohesive rock album knowing that many people may be just buying it in pieces?
Rick DeJesus – Not at all because there are people who will appreciate it. It is not for the people who are not going to buy it, it is not for the people which do not buy records now a days. We have diehard fans that we cannot wait until they hear what we have done, they appreciate every single song we create. We made this record for ourselves and for them. For us, it was all about making sure the material was amazing and people were blown away. We went in the whole time with an album mentality. We never thought about just single tracks or single songs, we thought let’s make an escape for the people. The people who buy it will understand it and appreciate it. The ones which will just buy the singles, that is what they will get. We do not try and alienate all the people that do appreciate albums, there are just people who do not.
I have a very old school mentality, I think it is the rock-n-roll in me; we live off our live show, we live off the albums we create for people. We are not the kind of band that writes one single and sells five million singles. We are a band that has a diehard following and core fan base that thirsts for what we can bring. There are people who come up to me and tell me, “Your song changed my life”, or “I would not have gotten through a time if I didn’t listen to “Brother” off the first album”. I take that very seriously, I am not here just to sell records. I am here to connect with the fans and the audience we have built, I am here to make them proud and excited. There are so many reasons I still do this, I think that is why I am still here. It would have been easy for me to pack my bags when times got hard throughout this whole journey. There were a million times that things went the way I wouldn’t have loved them to go, it never deterred me, there is a bigger picture. I have a path that I am following that I know I am put here to do, I focus on that first.
CrypticRock.com – That is great to hear you have such drive and determination. It is not often you hear such passion from many people in any walk of life in 2014. What are some of your musical influences?
Rick DeJesus – I am a product of the 1990’s. I remember sitting in my room at eleven or twelve years of age, playing video games, listen to Nirvana, Offspring’s Smash (1994), Soundgarden, and Metallica. I am very much from that era. My musical library has grown over the years, I appreciate The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and everything they have done for rock-n-roll. I love Motown. I am not the kind of person who thinks I know everything. I met my drummer and he introduced me to some bands that influenced me and he has put his influence into our band. Trevor is my go to guy, he has been with me the longest, and him and I have built this together. He is, first of all, one of the best drummers I think I have ever seen. Second, he is the guy who has been with me the most, I really trust his opinion. He introduced me to Refused and he loves Incubus. Your musical library gets opened up dramatically once you are around other people who love music. I am always open to new music and maybe records I do not know about. I just love great music.
CrypticRock.com – It is great to be open about music. You know you may find something that is not particularly from the genre that you listen to, but it maybe amazing and you may have missed out on it if you were not open about it.
Rick DeJesus – I am very open-minded. I am not one of those musicians who, just because I am in a band, think every band sucks. I do not have that mentality. I appreciate everyone for what they do. I do not feel threatened by anyone or anything, I can appreciate art for what it is. Even when I hear new artists, so many other bands are quick to hate on new artists because they are in the same competing realm as them. I am not like that, I appreciate the great voices of today and the great voices of yesterday. I am not doing my own thing, I am doing my thing that I know my audience is going to love. I am totally open to all great music.
CrypticRock.com – That is the right mentality to have when it comes to listening and making music. It is a very positive outlook. When you are focusing on what you want to do and what you are trying to achieve, you do not need those negative vibes surrounding you.
Rick DeJesus – Not at all. If there is a band really grinding your gears, you let them motivate you to make sure you are just better all around. I do not feel threatened by bands around us because I know our time is coming. I know someday we will be headlining some of these big name festival stages one day, we are building towards it. We have something special which we bring. I just work hard, keep my head down, and I know it is a matter of time until we are one of the elite rock bands of tomorrow.
CrypticRock.com – My last question for you is pertaining to films. CrypticRock.com is a music and horror film publication so we like to focus on all the genres. If you are a fan of horror films what are some of your favorite horror films?
Rick DeJesus – I love horror films. I love Seven (1995) and the Saw series. Obviously Freddy and Jason are classics. When I was a kid one of the scariest movies for me was Stephen King’s It (1990). I used to not want to go near any sewers. There are some that are probably slipping my mind. I was always terrified of Jaws (1975), it made me not even want to go near the ocean.
CrypticRock.com – As a person which seems to be a fan of horror films, what do you think about all the remakes?
Rick DeJesus – I do not think the remakes are as good as the originals, they just lack the magic. I saw the Evil Dead (2013) remake and it was not even anything like the one I watched as a kid. The original was a little freakier, a little more out there. The only really good remake was the first The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2003), that was really good. There are a couple which I think hit the mark, then there is a lot which really miss the mark dramatically. I am kind of torn on the remake thing, I think there are some which I am really impressed and others I think why did they even remake this movie and put in such a poor effort.
CrypticRock.com – The key to remakes is looking at them as separate entities because they are never going to be as good as the original.
Rick DeJesus – Of course. I always look at them as new movies. I do not let the fact that it is a remake dictate if I like the movie or not. At the end of it, I can review back and say it was totally weak compared to the original. If something is a worse film overall, I can certainly identify that.
Check Adelitas Way on tour on the following dates:
06/21/2014 Baldwinsville, NY Papermill Island
06/22/2014 South Bend, IN St. Joseph County 4-H Fair
06/27/2014 Alix, AB Tail Creek Mud & Music Festival
07/18/2014 Detroit, MI The Fillmore w/ Three Days Grace
07/20/2014 St. Louis, MO The Pageant w/ Three Days Grace
07/22/2014 Chicago, IL House of Blues w/ Three Days Grace
07/23/2014 Minneapolis, MN Myth Live
07/26/2014 Rapid City, SD Rushmore Plaza Civic Center w/ Three Days Grace
07/27/2014 Sioux Falls, SD The District w/ Three Days Grace
07/30/2014 Rock Springs, WY Sweetwater Events Complex
08/10/2014 Billings, MT MetraPark
W/ The Pretty Reckless
09/10/2014 Boston, MA House of Blues
09/12/2014 Silver Spring, MD The Fillmore
09/13/2014 Philadelphia, PA Theatre of the Living Arts
09/15/2014 Atlanta, GA The Masquerade
09/17/2014 Myrtle Beach, SC House of Blues
09/18/2014 Jacksonville beach, FL Free Bird Live
09/19/2014 St. Petersburg, FL Mahaffey Theater
09/20/2014 Lake Buena Vista, FL House of Blues
09/21/2014 Fort Lauderdale, FL Revolution Live
09/23/2014 Mobile, AL Soul Kitchen
09/24/2014 New Orleans, LA House of Blues
09/26/2014 Austin, TX Emo’s
09/27/2014 Dallas, TX House of Blues
09/28/2014 Houston, TX House of Blues
09/30/2014 Tempe, AZ The Marquee Theatre
10/2/2014 Reno, NV Knitting Factory
10/3/2014 Portland, OR Wonder Ballroom
10/4/2014 Seattle, WA El Corazon
10/5/2014 Vancouver, B.C. Vogue Theatre
10/8/2014 San Francisco, CA Regency Ballroom
10/10/2014 Los Angeles, CA The Wiltern
10/11/2014 Anaheim, CA House of Blues
10/12/2014 San Diego, CA House of Blues
10/16/2014 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
10/17/2014 Denver, CO The Fillmore Auditorium
10/21/2014 Minneapolis, MN First Avenue
10/23/2014 St. Louis, MO The Pageant
10/24/2014 Chicago, IL House of Blues
10/25/2014 Indianapolis, IN Deluxe Old National Centre
10/26/2014 Detroit, MI St. Andrews Hall
10/28/2014 Columbus, OH Newport Music Hall
10/29/2014 Cleveland, OH House of Blues
10/30/2014 Toronto, ON The Sound Academy
11/1/2014 Montreal, QC Olympia De Montreal
11/4/2014 South Burlington, VT Higher Ground Ballroom
11/6/2014 Portland, ME The Asylum
11/7/2014 Hampton Beach, NH Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom
11/8/2014 New York, NY Best Buy Theater