Photo Credit: Robin Ervolina
By Allison Theriot and Robin Ervolina
Adelitas Way made their way to the Pompano Beach Amphitheater on June 25, 2016 as part of a limited engagement with Buckcherry. I will not, cannot, pretend to be an impartial observer to this event. I purchased my second row ticket two minutes after the pre-sale opened — yes, two minutes into the pre-sale, I was already relegated to side stage, second row. When I arrived to the venue I was surprised to find that Adelitas Way would be performing as the first act of the night, promptly at 7 p.m., rather than having the benefit of an opening act as in previous stops along the tour. A heads-up to this change in lineup might have helped fill the amphitheater seats earlier, but what Adelitas Way lacked in attendance was more than made up for in admiration of attendees and some hard, genuine, true rocking out by lead singer Rick DeJesus. By the end of their opening song the crowd was filling in the seats and standing on their feet. By the end of the second song I wasn’t sure who was there for which act. The crowd responded actively, immediately, for Adelitas Way. Rick was at once engaging, then lost in the lyrics and mood of songs spanning ten years and five albums, most recently the wildly anticipated and crowd funded Deserve This and Getaway. I have to admit, as a long-time fan going back to their self-titled Adelitas Way, I would have loved to hear, “Alive,” but covering so much material in the dead heat of a Florida summer is a feat in and of itself, and regardless of personal preference, Adelitas Way delivered. Fans old, new, and newly acquired sang along, clapped along, danced in the aisles, and walked away with set lists, guitar pics, drum sticks, and photos.
Shortly after their set Rick DeJesus exited side stage and immediately made himself available to fans for hand shakes, selfies, and hugs. I’ve prearranged a post-show interview with one of rock’s most engaging performers, but I stand to the side, waiting for the opportunity. Rick approaches and introduces himself. “Hi, I’m Rick, it’s a pleasure, so nice to meet you.” As if I didn’t, haven’t, been a fan for years, I say, “Selfie?” and he obliges with a grin, suffering through my two fumbling attempts with humor and patience. His smile is open, real, something that is a testament to his genuineness of character. He takes co-interviewer Allison and me to the artist’s lounge, and openly speaks to us about the tour, his break with Virgin Records, his experience crowd sourcing (and why he’ll never, ever do it again) and hints of a bright and exciting future for Adelitas Way.
Shockwave Magazine: So, how is the tour going?
Rick DeJesus: Aww, this has been a great tour man. Buckcherry is a band that obviously has hit songs and a great fan base. The music business tries to down-play how good bands are, “Oh Buckcherry has been around too long,” or “Adelitas Way, uh, isn’t what they used to be.” I don’t know, I hear things in the business. But on this tour and on our headlining tour we are all filling venues everywhere, every night, so it’s tough to gauge what more the business wants from you, what more people expect from you. This tour has been fantastic. We’ve played — pretty much the majority of the houses, you can’t fit more people in. It has been a great tour.
How do you feel from 2009, where you had your self-titled album to now 2016, and Getaway. Do you feel the writing has changed?
The writing has changed. You can tell on the first two albums, I pretty much wrote everything myself, or I wrote with some friends of mine. On the third, I explored writing with the guys in the band more. The same with Getaway. I think you can hear, at this point on the third and fourth album, I wrote some songs without the band and you can hear the flavor that the band brings, ya know what I mean? We wrote “Good Die Young,” “Getaway,” and “Together.” On the Stuck record, “Dog on a Leash,” “Save the World.” Some of the songs I wrote without the guys, “Drive,” “Undivided,” “I Get Around,” and “Bad Reputation.” So you can hear the difference in the writing.
Do you get your lyrics from experience or do you hear a riff and think these words go great with that?
A lot of the times I’ll have the words first and the melody early on. Obviously when I write with the band they inspire me. You know “Getaway,” I just knew what it was.
Like “Brother,” it came from a life experience?
Yeah, most of the things I write about come from things I’m going through, or I see someone going through, or feel.
I think with Getaway — I had to backtrack to Stuck, and I heard a marked difference. I could tell you were trying to experiment. Let’s just get into it—the whole split with Virgin, it just sounded like you were being pushed into a direction that wasn’t natural.
Oh totally, that record, why do you think we left Virgin Records? When we first signed there, we had a great team and staff, and it was a great time. Then the whole staff got fired and we were there with a bunch of strangers. And it didn’t work out, and after the third album we all came to the conclusion it was time to move on. Then when we moved on, everyone expected us to sign another deal with someone else or another label and we didn’t want to. We were so over that side of things that I decided to start my own record label and put Getaway out myself.
Is that what The Vegas Syn/The Fuel Music is? Are you going to add bands to the label?
Yes, that’s the label I started and it’s just us. I am focusing on just getting us where we are going. We have had great success. We’ve sold over 10,000 records, 30,000 singles in a couple of months and we do it on our own.
Your crowd source — you met your financial goal for the EP within a week. Were you surprised by some of the items people bid on?
It was good man, crazy good. But the pledge is tough because a lot of fans get mad at you because they don’t understand the process. That there were 2000 or more items shipped out. I get people who are like, I never got my item, my sticks or my lyrics. It’s a fact that if you ship out 2000 things thru USPS, 30 or 40 are going to get lost. As for the items we put on the crowd funding, we put things out there we hoped people would bid on.
Well, just so you know, we got ours, so thanks!
Yeah, there were like 30 to 40 people who kept saying they never got their item, and I was like dude, I sent them, what do you want me to do? I’ll do them again, but you have to tell me. Don’t just sit in your room pissed off at me and I don’t know. Contact us, it’s eight months, I’ve never gotten my lyrics.
So would you crowd source again?
Nope, we’re done with it.
What’s next then? What do you do to get enough money to keep producing your music and get it to the fans?
We have it. And for me, I have a goal, the guys think I’m nuts. I don’t want to be remembered for Home School Valedictorian and that’s it. I don’t want people to say that was my best record or creation made. I have a better record inside of me and I think it’s the one I am looking forward to. I am taking my time. I am not going to rush an album. People may not get another Adelitas Way record until 2017 or 2018. I don’t know what I’m going to do. Maybe I’ll drop a song in a month or so, maybe around the New Year.
Do you have a lot of old songs that you wrote, say back to the time frame of “Why Would You Go” in 2009? I always say a band has a vault. Do you have songs in there you want to pull out?
Oh yeah! Of course! One of the best songs ever written in my career, and it’s never been heard, and you won’t hear it. I leave it off every album because everyone I talk to tells me not to put it on an Adelitas Way record. And sometimes I listen to advice. I like to give advice to the young kids, but sometimes when someone who I know, who has accomplished a lot, is looking out for me and says you should give this song to someone else, it makes me reconsider releasing it. I wrote a song that people keep saying I should give to Keith Urban or Eric Church or someone else who is bigger in a different genre. You know, I plan on putting a solo record out too, over the winter, some from the vault you’re talking about, songs I have written that I love, that the band doesn’t necessarily love, or ballads—I write ballads—I write every song we have ever created. So yeah, I have a vault of songs that I want to release.
Do you feel that Getaway is the album that Stuck could have been if Virgin hadn’t tried to make you sound like Coldplay?
Yeah, they really tried to make us sound Coldplay-ish. But we didn’t know at that time. You have to remember that being on a major label is crazy. The first time I heard our completed record was in stores when everyone else heard it. I never even heard the song “Something More.” I couldn’t believe what they did to it. That song started out as just me and a piano and they turned it into something else and you know what? It is what it is, it was meant to happen. It was meant for us to walk away from them. It was meant for us to do this on our own, because we feel great.
And every band wants to get signed to a label and thinks that’s it. What do you say to those bands out there searching for a label, whether a big or small label?
It’s just like any other job. You have to eat shit in the beginning. It’s true. If you want to be a manager of a restaurant you have to start washing dishes. You gotta go and sign a two or three album deal, don’t sign a four album deal. Sign a two album deal with an indie label or major label. Be buddy-buddy with them, make the kind of record they want a little bit, make the record you want a little bit. You get your name out there, and the minute you have the fans and that fan base, and can rebel and turn it on them. The minute we felt that our fans were just so invested, we were bold. We were like, we are going to do this on our own. And I had indie labels coming at me, throwing money on the table and I was like get that shit out of here. I’m not going to do it, not interested in your money.
If it weren’t for Octane and other satellite radio stations and internet—here in South Florida, we have no local rock radio—people rely on social media. Are you all very active on social media to keep up with your fans and keep them up to date?
Yeah, Florida is really rough. And we are really active. We are playing, we spend money on social media, and we spend money on radio when it’s in front of us. We play, we tour, we headline, we go around the states, and we fill rooms everywhere. We are very happy where we are. We feel like we have done it. We have some Vegas shows set up, we are doing October and New Year’s. So come to Vegas!
Well, your fans love you, and they are going to follow you wherever you go, and that is obvious.
I appreciate them and you guys so much.
Ok, here is my cheesy question. What is your guilty pleasure on the road or at home?
Massages! Oh yeah, I get a lot of them. And I guess listening to my own music. I like it. I like other bands too.
That’s it? [Laughing] I wanted to hear a big-ass greasy burger and fries or something.
[Laughing] Oh yeah, that’s my normal day. [Laughing] It’s why I look 32 now! My whole life I was raised on a strict diet and I’m just getting back into that now. For years I would eat whatever the fuck I wanted.
Thank you for taking the time to sit down with us Rick. It was a pleasure and all the best to you and the band and be safe on the road.
Oh come on!! Any time girls. This was awesome.
Performance Photo Credit: Robin Ervolina
Check Adelitas Way on tour – Current tour schedule