It takes more than just dreaming big to become a successful rock ‘n’ roll band. The members Las Vegas based rock band Adelitas Way have spent the past several years pouring their heart and soul into their music. The results of their determination is evident; garnering them legions of dedicated fans and rave reviews from critics around the globe. Over the past several months, this tightknit group of talented musicians have holed up in a secluded studio focusing their collective energy on a new collection of songs, the highly anticipated followup to 2011’s ‘Home School Valedictorian,’ with producer Nick Raskulinecz. “Dog On a Leash” was recently released as the band’s leadoff single. To hear frontman Rock DeJesus tell it, it is just a taste of things to come. The band will head out on the road for a stretch of festival dates starting in late April and will certainly continue to make their mark on the music scene in 2014 and beyond. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Adelitas Way frontman Rick DeJesus to discuss his musical roots, the history of the band, the challenges of bringing their upcoming album to life and much more!
Take us back to your earlier years. What are your first memories of music in your life?
My parents always had good music around the house, my mom and dad had good taste in music, the Beatles, Sting, temptations, The Who, I remember they took us to see Aerosmith when I was young, we had a fun house. My older brother always was blasting Metallica, Pantera and Alice In Chains. I remember just expanding my musical library at young age.
How were your biggest influences as a musician and performer?
I love nirvana and Metallica, Audioslave has made some of my favorite records. I’m a product of the 90’s Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, The Offspring, 311, STP and Alice In Chains. This is all what I listened to growing up.
They say a career in music isn’t a journey for the faint of heart. What made you take the plunge and pursue a career in the music industry?
I just followed my path of life. I’m supposed to be here. Yes, it wasn’t easy at all but what is? You got to have tough skin and drive to survive. You constantly have to stay humble and hungry but also understand your value as an artist. Hard work, hard work, hard work combined with God given drive and talent is what it takes to keep going.
What are your recollections of meeting your drummer Trevor Stafford for the first time?
Trev drove 4 hours from Cali just to jam with me, at the time I was meeting a lot of diva drummers, he was hungry like me and I knew I found someone who would endure any hardships that stood in our way. We are The Bash Brothers. It’s pretty tough to hold us down. We usually stay focused and strong minded. We have always had goals and we kept focus on them no matter what roadblocks appeared. We had blinders on and knew what we could accomplish.
In your opinion, what can you tell us about the other members of the group and what they bring to the table?
I think u always got to have chemistry with the guys you play with and u share moments together live. Trev [Stafford] is extremely focused and hard working and his drumming is fresh. We connect when we play together. Rob also has an amazing chemistry with Trev. I love his style; I enjoy jamming with Rob and just letting loose live when we jam. Andrew is an insanely amazing bass player and he makes us very tight. There’s nothing like locking in and making magic happen on stage.
You have been hard at work in the studio. What were your expectations going into the process of creating the album?
The only mindset was to create something memorable, something great. We made an album, with real instruments and real vibe, we worked endlessly on the songs and just approached it like we could change history if we made the right album, that mindset kept us focused, driven and striving for greatness.
Are you approaching this record differently than “Home School Valedictorian”?
Yes, we are going for a more organic feel we wanted to incorporate what our love show is known for and putting it on a album. We wanted it to feel electric. We put much more focus on jamming and pre-production. We approached this whole process trying to do fresh things and really capture the warmth of the instruments and vocals. We felt not over producing the record was important.
What can you tell us about your songwriting process and how you bring a tune to life?
There’s many different ways songs come about, sometimes I’ll be walking around my house and a lyric or a melody comes to me, or we jam and it just all comes together magically. There’s so many ways songs come about. Sometimes, I’ll come in with melodies and we work on the music around it or sometimes a riff or jam inspires a whole song. I love writing it’s very therapeutic for my life. We had a lot of fun jamming, there were lots of ups and downs while making this album and that’s going to make the victory taste sweeter.
As an artist, where do you find yourself looking for inspiration these days?
People are always the inspiration; our lives, the things we all go through or feel. It’s about connecting to your fans who feel the way you feel. It’s an escape. I wrote songs about people see or meet and also the things that happen in my life.
What have you taken away from working with producer Nick Raskulinecz and what does he bring to the table for a project like this?
Nick helped us capture the organic sound and rawness we wanted, he also was brilliant with arrangements and just hammering us in pre production, he pushed us so there was no doubts we could play the songs perfectly with the energy and vibe it needed.
Where are you in the process right now?
We are getting ready to tour the US for the rest of the year, Dog on a leash just hit iTunes and is doing very well at rock radio, we are blessed but this shits just getting started. I can’t wait until June/July when people hear this record we’ve made.
You recently released a teaser for “Dog On A Leash.” What made you choose this song as the leadoff for the new album?
It was tough to pick a lead single because the record has quite a few songs that we all were bouncing around on. It’s a very strong album. I think “Dog On A Leash” lyrically is very relatable. I know that everyday men and women feel this way at times in life. I think Dog sets the tone for the journey that’s coming but it’s also very different from the whole record. It’s a great song to get people ready for what’s to come.
How does this album compare and contrast to what fans have heard from Adelitas Way in the past?
I think we are just more refined and more driven than ever, I think we are all the best we have been as far as our talents in our instruments and our writing and playing. We also had grand visions while creating this album which helped us push ourselves. We really felt like we could make a record that people remember forever.
Looking back on the process of bringing it to life, what stands out at as the biggest challenge in creating this album so far?
Living up to your own expectations, you want everything to be so perfect that you over analyze. Music isn’t perfect, mixes aren’t perfect, the greatest records ever made all had flaws, and sometimes it’s tough to identify flaws as a good thing. I tried to just enjoy every step of this process because it’s easy to be very hard on every aspect of a record. All of my favorite records the tones aren’t perfect or I hear things that give it character. You have to stay open minded and keep your hands out of the cookie jar or you will set impossible goals and expectations. Learning when to be finished is important, and just let the magic run its course.
What is the biggest thing you learned about yourself during this intense process?
That I’m more driven than ever, this business has thrown a little bit if everything at me and I continue to thrive no matter what. Playing for the fans is enough for me to want to overcome any obstacle, the way I feel and excitement I have for our fans to hear our hard work, and the excitement to play our songs for them all keeps this exciting.
Are there any plans to take any of this new music on the road in the coming months?
Of course, there’s no where better to hear us than a love show, I look forward to people hearing the new songs where they started, in a jam room, hearing the songs for the guest time live people can see where the song was truly conceived and born .
Is there something you hope people come away with after they catch one of your live performances?
I always believed we are better sounding live than we are on our albums, I think when people see us love is when we really gain die hard true fans. We put everything we have into every show, every night.
What do you consider your biggest musical milestone?
Making a third album on a major label during the dark age of the music business. [laughs] Also, just touring all over the earth is quite amazing, we have had some great milestones but I think after this album will have a different answer for you.
How do you feel you have evolved as a musician since first starting out?
I have evolved tremendously from my songwriting, to performing, to my vocals and range. I am much more refined and skilled as a singer and I know exactly who I am as an artist. It takes time to become great and I’m just putting all my work in and paying my dues. I believe I will accomplish my goals by the time it’s all said and done.
What are some of your musical bucket list items or musical ground you are still anxious to explore?
I want to tour the entire world.
What is the best piece of advice that you can pass along to someone who wants to pursue a career in music in the industry’s current climate?
Be driven, and you can’t be sensitive or you’ll get eaten alive. Also look at your journey with a serious mindset your investing into yourself, and that takes time, skill, money, dedication, strategy, planning and never letting the word NO deter you. It’s a tough journey but nothing in music is impossible.
What are you most excited about when you think about the year to come?
To take our band to an elite level, we are ready and I believe it’s our time. I can’t wait for everyone to hear all our hard work and see us at shows to experience it firsthand. I want them to feel the magic and energy that we felt creating these songs.
Anything you want to tell your fans before I let you go?
We can’t wait to see you all soon, we will be headlining all over the US this year look out for us. Stay updated at www.adelitaswaymusic.com for all Adelitas Way news and tour dates.
Jason Price founded the mighty Icon Vs. Icon more than a decade ago. Along the way, he’s assembled an amazing group of like-minded individuals to spread the word on some of the most unique people and projects on the pop culture landscape.