Adelitas Way’s Rick DeJesus Discusses ‘Deserve This’ EP, Respect for Fellow Acts + More
Adelitas Way are in the midst of a key point in their career. The band has branched out after last year's Stuck album with the new single "I Get Around" and an EP called Deserve This. In addition, fans can look for a new full length album later this year. Frontman Rick DeJesus gave a very frank interview to Loudwire about what inspired the group to turn around music so quickly on their own, his thoughts on touring and the respect of opening acts and he also spoke about a few songs on the band's current Deserve This EP. Check out the chat below.
Congrats on the Deserve This EP. Great to hear new music.
Thank you, yeah, for me it's one of the most important things in my career at this point is releasing the music that we want to release, you know?
Absolutely. I know last year we had the Stuck album. By basically turning around and doing another record this quick, it seems like you guys are taking the bull by the horns with this one. Can you talk a little bit about the process of turning around something so quick?
Yeah, it’s funny because we’re musicians, you know what I mean? I mean like all we do -- I’m always writing songs every day, not everyday but whenever I’m inspired, you know? I don’t just write when someone tells me. If I ever need to make an album or whatever it is, getting together and jamming or I’m coming up with ideas and I call the guys up and say “Hey I just came up with this idea” and you know we’re like a bunch of, not a bunch of old men but we’re like “Hey let’s get together on Friday and go in the jam room and play.” So we’re always doing that kind of stuff.
With the Stuck album, I’m not going to spend the whole time bashing the record companies and everything, but they’re more afraid to put out music now than they ever were before. It’s like nothing’s ever ready. They want to take three years to set everything up. And it’s like, with the way today’s technology is with the Internet and streaming and YouTube and all these places for people to hear music any minute they want, you can’t deprive them from it. And we’re not looking to release an album every three years, an album every five years. It doesn’t interest us.
When I look back on my career the one regret that I do have is that I wish I would have released more music and now we can do that. Now it’s to the point where it just keeps rapidly changing so much and we’re trying to stay ahead of the curve. The way you stay relevant in this business and the way you stay on people’s minds and the way you inspire people is to release your best work, to release music. And we’re constantly trying to evolve, release our best work. So the writing process, I’m always writing and the minute Stuck wrapped up I just kept writing. Even though we recorded the album, I kept writing. And you know, we were ready to record an EP. Not immediately after but definitely a couple of months after Stuck came out we had more songs that we were in love with and we were like “Man, we wish people could hear these.” And then we were like, “Well, why can’t they? They can. Let’s go record it.” So we went back to where we made our first album in Chicago Groovemaster Studios and we recorded five songs that we love.
Our parents' generation, all the big bands back then, they had 2-3 albums out in a year, so, this is great to be able to turn it around.
That’s what I’m saying. When you look at the Bob Dylan's and the Johnny Cash's and the Beatles and all those bands it’s like you know they used to release music more often than not and nowadays it’s almost like bands are afraid to release music or labels are afraid to release music and no one wants to write any songs. I’m a songwriter, man. I write songs all the time and I think people should hear them. Especially when I feel so strongly about it. Another thing is we didn’t really get to do what we wanted on Stuck. You know the record that we delivered and the one that came out were two different things.
We’re very proud of the Stuck album but you gotta remember the whole time we were making the record we were dealing with a major label that just told us for a year straight that rock was dead and we needed to make a certain kind of album that wasn’t rock leaning. And then that almost was like “don’t push the red button” because the record we turned in initially was all rock. It was very heavy. It was very, very tone oriented, it was very, very rock based and the label just flat out told us that they weren’t going to put it out. They’re like, “There’s no Top 40 hits on this, we’re not putting this record out. Go back and write more songs that are more pop radio friendly.” And it was a battle for a couple for a couple years to get Stuck out.
I saw the PledgeMusic campaign that you put together. How awesome is it that the very first dollar that's contributed is by your mom? I love that.
It’s great. It’s great. Yeah, she’s very supportive. My mom, she don’t know the music business. And she asks the most basic questions that make you wonder the same thing. Like I remember trying to explain to my mom that we couldn’t put Stuck out and she was just like, “Why? I don’t understand?” And then I remember telling her like, “Oh I have all these new songs that I really love.” And she’s like “Why don’t you just release them?” And I’m like “You know what, why don’t we?” It is that simple. It’s not as complicated as everyone makes it to be. I love having a team behind me. I’m not going to sit here and say we’d love to do every single thing on our own, because I love having a team behind me that’s supportive. But you know, we’re looking to be in a business where people appreciate what we’re doing and they appreciate rock and roll, you know. I don’t want to be making a record that every meeting that I have while making this record people are just telling me change everything that I love.
I grew up on rock and roll, man. It’s the kind of music that I make. I’m a big advocate for rock and roll and if there’s an artist that’s not gonna abandon what they do, it’s me. You know, I’m not going to go on out and try to be Imagine Dragons or be whatever the record companies, you know, are telling me. I remember having a meeting with one of the executives at the label and they were like “Have you listened to Miley Cyrus’ ‘Wrecking Ball’?” And I’m like “Dude, that’s the s--t I’m trying to kill. That’s the s--t I’m trying to stomp on and you’re trying to get me to make it.” So there is a disconnect. And obviously, you know, now we were on fire coming off of Home School Valedictorian. The label waited a couple of years to put Stuck out. When we came back the landscape had changed even more and now we’re kind of in the position where we have to continue to come out strong and re-place ourselves in rock and roll as well. You know, it’s like somehow we were on the rise to the top and then you know, we fought so much over this third album that we kind of a took a step back and now we’re trying to take two steps forward again.
You mentioned the fact you had some songs right after Stuck that you were interested in getting out as soon as possible. Was there one track that kicked this off for you? That you're like, man I wish we could get this out right now?
Yeah, the new single "I Get Around." I went on a real bad date one time and when I was out with the girl she asked me, how many people have you hooked up with or have you been with? I was like, man what a question on a first date! I totally lied, I said uh, three hundred, [laughs]. I told her lies because I didn't think that's a question you ask people - know what I mean? After the date I bumped into one of my buddies, he told me that girl is crazy. She hangs out with a lot of guys too, so it had me thinking. First of all, when she asked me that question, I realized that maybe I did get around a little more than I liked but she did as well. So it kind of inspired this thing in me. So I wrote the song, I love the song and I felt like I wanted everyone to hear it. So we just kept working on it.
We wrote and wrote and wrote and we came up with the EP now and we're just making sure we don't rush anything because we want everything we do to be great. We wanted to take back our place at the top of rock music. We really believe we belong there. We're coming back and we're trying to do something great for ourselves and for the genre.
The EP has me excited for what's coming with the full album. "Filthy Heart" is maybe my favorite one on there. If you want to talk about that track, how did that come about?
I hope that track, obviously it's going to take a couple of steps to get there. We're looking for some support from our rock radio peers that we've done so many great things with over the past seven years. We have a great relationship with some of them. We need everyone in our corner right now because I hope "Filthy Heart" can be the next single. You can't succeed on your own, you need the help of your peers and the support of the rock and roll community. I just hope everyone continues to support us.
The funny thing is this, people seem to forget that in the '90s, '80s, '70s, some of the best bands would just go in a garage and jam together and believe in their guitar player, drummer, bass player, singer. That's the way records were made. Somewhere along the line in the 2000s, the record companies started pushing co-writers and writing with a band became a bad thing. I remember turning in songs off the Stuck record and I remember before the label even listened to the song they were like, "Who wrote this?" We'd say the band. And it would immediately be a negative penalty. Oh, the band wrote it? They wouldn't even listen to the song and didn't want it on the album. I thought that was crazy because we have that mentality. Like a Soundgarden or a Nirvana, a band that just goes into a barn and jams and comes out with great material.
"Filthy Heart" is a product of that, it's a product of us going together and reacting off each other and rocking out in sweaty / dingy room. Another thing that inspired that and I have respect for every artist we've ever shared the stage with, every artist that does what we do.
We were coming off the tour with The Pretty Reckless where they didn't have any respect for us. They treated us as we've never accomplished anything and it really fueled a fire in me for us never wanting to open up for any band I didn't want to open up for again. So, "Filthy Heart" is a little bit inspired from that whole experience. From realizing it had an energy that made me shift my shoulders. I'm opening up for this band that's -- we're right there with them and we're getting treated like amateurs or dogs. We came off that tour, I was very frustrated and realized that maybe I wasn't where I wanted to be in my career. I wanted to never have to do that again or go through that again. "Filthy Heart" poured out about that whole scenario.
Speaking of opening for bands, I know you just came off a Sno Core tour and played with Flyleaf. Can you talk about that experience and did that go off as planned?
Yeah, it was like night and day. The tour with Flyleaf was a co-headlining tour and they treated us with the utmost respect. They treated us like what we are, we've toured the entire United States and Canada for the past eight years. We've played every market. We have a fan base. We sell tickets in every place we play, we've headlined our own shows. When we went with Flyleaf, they were very gracious. They were like, thank you guys for doing this us. The bands toured really well together, we had a mutual respect for each others accomplishments. We had mutual respect for each other's live shows and talent. For me, it was night and day coming off a tour where A: The tour we had previously, this band had no respect for us. They wanted us out in the alleyway right before we played and we were pretty much treated like a band that was buying onto the tour. Flyleaf, when we were out with their guys, they treated us like a band of peers -- two bands that respected each other.
The way you do things the way you show people that they can't run all over you is you go out and headline. Go out and headline and you sell tickets and you fill rooms yourself you prove everyone what your value is. We've had a lot of headlining shows this year and we've filled rooms.
We do our own headlining tour and we're not going to miss a beat. The rooms are going to look exactly the same as it looked on the last three tours and we're going to show everyone that we don't need to rely on anybody to play in front of an audience. The reason we take tours from this point out are because we want to tour with bands that we respect and love their music or we have a great relationship with them. There's a lot of bands like that out there like Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman, Three Days Grace that just have respect for us, we've done great tours with them and understand the value that we bring and we understand everything they've accomplished as well. We're looking to take tours that we want to take. We're not looking to open up for anyone we don't feel like opening up for. We're looking to build our headlining base and successfully headlining the world.
Headlining tour coming up this summer. Anything you can share?
When you do a headlining set you always play more songs. People want this, this, or you didn't play that. It's like, we have almost four albums worth of material now and everyone has their favorite song so I think the number one thing is, we get to do the things the way that we want. We get to play as long as we want. The good thing about our headlining shows is, we want everyone to have fun man. When I go out on some of these tours and there's a million rules. That's not rock and roll. It's not rock and roll being yelled at or crossing a tape sign going backstage and seeing signs all over the place telling me what I can't do. There's nothing rock and roll about that man. On our headlining tours, every band that opens for us and every band that comes out to the show are going to walk out and have a night where they feel like they were free, they were able to let loose and able to have a good time. The only thing I ever ask is that everyone treats each other with respect.
What made Matt Dougherty the right guy to produce this album?
His tones and organicness and he likes to record the band as a band. It wasn't like cut and paste. Let's do guitars this time, vocals later. We did this EP, man, we tracked it all pretty much as live as we could. The bass, guitars and drums were all played at the same time. Matt was able to really capture the tones and magic. We're really excited about that. But on top of that, man, his fuel in just getting tones and recording and just adding little production things. I was very impressed. I'm the kind of guy who, I'm always looking for talent myself. I just don't want to go, "Oh, let's hire Brendan O'Brien." Obviously the music business has changed, we can't afford Brendan O'Brien. You want to find the guy who can still give you the kind of record that I grew up listening to. I grew up listening to Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots and Refused, all these great bands and it's like, my favorite thing about those records is you can hear the band. You can hear them being played. You can hear the mistakes. It's a bunch of guys slamming away in a room. That's how we want to record every record we make.
You mentioned trusting in the guys that are in your band and getting together and jamming, making sure it's a great fit. Andrew Cushing has come in on bass since 2014. Can you talk about the trust that comes with a new member.
Andrew started playing with us in 2013. I'll be honest, when we made the Stuck record we were looking to make a very musical record and our last bass player just had a tough time keeping up with what we were doing. So we knew that we were stepping our game up and wanted to be one of the tightest bands in the game. We had to step our game up. We felt like maybe one of our weaker links was in that area, so I knew Andrew for years. He was in my friend's band. He lives down the street from me in Vegas and I've been hanging out with him since 2010. Just going out, hanging, going to parties and doing stuff with him. His band ended up breaking up and we were in a position where we were looking to tighten up and improve. Bringing Andrew on has helped dramatically, singing backup vocals, playing is the tightest I've seen. We've improved dramatically when we added Andrew. Now I think when you watch the band or when you come see it live, the band is exactly where it needs to be. We're on point right now and we're a force to be reckoned with. I think anybody that plays with us or sees us understands that.
Looking at your PledgeMusic page and one of the items is going golfing in Las Vegas. I'm guessing there's someone in the band that's at least a decent golfer?
I'm pretty good at golf and my drummer Trevor is pretty good. The main thing is, we're fun. You go on the golf course and it'll be a memorable day. We go golfing on the road together sometimes and those are some of the most fun days on tour. We want to share that experience with the fans. It's a way that we can not have to answer to ten suits to put music out -- by connecting with the fans and the fans coming out and supporting the bands. So we wanted to do something to show them we appreciate them. We thought long and hard how we could pick so many cool experiences for them to be a part of with us. It excites us to do those types of things. I don't want to be in a position where I can't put music out if I don't want to. As I said, there was a point on Stuck where I had a one-year-old daughter that I was raising and the record company wouldn't put the album out and for two years I had to sit there and figure out how I was going to feed my kid. I don't ever want to be in that position again. I have the talent and I have the ability to release music. It sucks to have a 13 song record sitting in your hands that no one can hear and I never want that to happen again.
Following the EP will be a new album. Thoughts on maybe when that might be coming? How is it coming along?
It's coming along great. I hope to have it out by the time we do the headline tour. We're going to headline in June / July and I hope to have it out. I hope to have the record by then, but I just am not going to rush it. We hold ourselves to a high standard and our fans hold us to a high standard. Obviously everybody in rock and roll has an opinion. So we want to make sure that we come out and as long as we feel great about what we do, we're usually pretty confident.
We want to take our time with the songs and make sure there's great songs and make sure that we're a little dangerous, man. I want to be a little dangerous. I want to be an outlaw in this game. I want to start a rebellion. I don't want to put out a standard record where you can't tell the bands apart. I think if there's a knock in my career from the front, I signed to a major label on my first record. Sometimes you can hear the influence of them telling you what you have to be to get your album released. Now, we can kind of do whatever we want. I started that on the Home School Valedictorian record. There's a lot that I did that I wanted to do and they kind of got off my back but after you come off a successful record, Home School Valedictorian sold 150,000 records and a million singles. After that records I had CEOs I never heard of telling me how to make records now because they had an interest in selling music. We're back to just doing what we like and doing what got us here.
Definitely sounds like it'll be one of the more interesting records this year and can't wait for it to come out. Rick, thank you so much for your time today. Much appreciated.
Thank you guys for always supporting us. I love Loudwire and what you guys do. You guys give us a lot of love, it means a lot.
Many thanks to Adelitas Way's Rick DeJesus for the interview. You can pick up the band's Deserve This EP at iTunes. And you can also check out the PledgeMusic campaign for their new studio album with a variety of incentives here. Stay tuned for touring information at this location.
Adelitas Way, "I Get Around"