Creating art is an extremely personal process between the artist and the work that they are creating, so it has to be tough when other people try and dictate how your art should be. This is one lesson that Las Vegas-based hard rock band, Adelitas Way, learned the hard way during the course of their ten-year career.
Adelitas Way tasted some early mainstream success in their career with several singles getting substantial airplay back in 2009. Their song, Invincible, was used by the WWE, ESPN, CBS Miami and other outlets. The band boldly left Virgin Records after their 2014 release Stuck didn’t get the results that the band felt it truly deserved. They took control of things and designed a game-plan for Adelitas Way where they were calling the shots. The band released the EP, Deserve This, and recently followed it up with their full-length album, Getaway, via The Vegas Syn/The Fuel Music.
We had a chance to speak with Rick DeJesus, vocalist of Adelitas Way, about their recent album, the Bad Reputation tour, and their switch from a major label to the DIY approach.
Since Adelitas Way’s formation back in 2006, the band has experienced a number of successes in the mainstream market, as well as independently. Throughout these successes, DeJesus said that the band has gained some perspective “We’ve realized that there are two important things to us in our careers: Having fun and making money. And as long as those two things continue on, we realized that we don’t have to tour 9 to 10 months out of the year like we used to,” said DeJesus. He went on to explain how the band has learned how to relax and enjoy the ride. “Now we like to pick things we like to do, we like to have fun, we’re enjoying what we do instead of making it stressful. We just wanna have fun and make a living. Those are the goals for us. We don’t put pressure on ourselves for anything. We’re not on a major label anymore. When you’re on a major label you constantly need to be on the road and have to constantly write a certain type of song and right now we know in our hearts that we have to write hit songs for the people. I know that people like hits. But at the end of the day, the focus is having fun and enjoying what we do,” said DeJesus.
DeJesus says that the band had some help from the producer of their first album and says that he sees the move from mainstream to independent labels as being the way of the future in music. “We had a big producer on this album. We brought Johnny K in, who did our first album, and he was just fantastic. You know, Johnny was also a bit part of helping shape the record into something that we thought was fantastic. But we released it on our own label just because the times are different. You have to own as much stock as you band nowadays because, look, let’s be honest… right now, the people that own the music business, the YouTubes and the Spotifies, they’re getting away with murder on artists. They’re pretty much giving us nothing for our songs and I think the way to nullify that is… if you combine the record labels taking every single piece of your sales and your merch and your everything, there’s just no way to make a living. We just did what we think is going to be the future of rock music. I don’t know if it’s gonna be the future of all music someday. But I see the future of rock music leaning in more of an independent direction and we wanted to be one of the first ones to do it. We wanted to be part of that first wave to set the tone and to show other artists that they can make a living. If you start feeling really frustrated because you have this massive fan-base but you don’t have any way to monitor it, we’re trying to find a way to really have fun and be able to make a living, too,” DeJesus explained.
Following the bands’ departure from Virgin Records, DeJesus says that they have come to find that working on an independent label has given the band a freedom that was not allowed to them before. “We were over at Virgin records and we had a great staff over there but when that staff was let go, a new staff came in that didn’t quite know our music that well. When that happens… it’s very difficult to release music on a major label. You can release music that you loved and completed for months and months and months and they’ll find a reason to not put it out to the public. So, one of the reasons we love being independent is that if we make something we love, we put it out to the fans. We can go out and make money for our families and hit the road and you can just do it the way you want to do it. It’s not like all this pressure to go sell X amount of records and go do this, that, and the other thing. You can go at your own pace and we can tour when we want to tour. We can make the kind of music we want to make. You know, I’ve been on a major label long enough to know that the key is you have to have some major hit songs on the record. I learned that from my eight years at Virgin. And I took what I learned from there and tried to put it into this record and I also took some of the great things they did at Virgin and I used those things. The things that I didn’t feel that they did well, I dropped,” said DeJesus.
Released late last month, the bands’ recent album, Getaway, is said to be a blend of the old and new for Adelitas Way, according to DeJesus. “It’s got a nice little blend of both worlds. We gave some tracks for people who don’t necessarily want to hear everything sound like a hit song and we gave people a taste of what we sound like when people just put us in a room and let us rip.” In case you haven’t heard the album yet, here is the hit single, Bad Reputation, from the bands’ page on YouTube.
In regards to the bands’ most recent tour, The Bad Reputation Tour, DeJesus says the band as seen a very successful run of shows. “It’s been fantastic! It’s a very proud moment for us because we’re coming out now as an independent band and, for the first time in our careers, we’re selling out venues, you can’t get tickets to the shows and they are absolutely packed every night. It just shows us that all of our hard work is paying off and it’s a really good feeling to see the fanbase that we’ve created and have just been there for us our whole career and you just realize that everything you’re doing is paying off. The Bad Reputation Tour has just been electrifying! It’s just been an amazing run!” DeJesus says that the band frequently updates the Adelitas Way website with the latest upcoming show dates.
Since the Bad Reputation Tour, DeJesus says the band will be approaching the future with an open mind and will be focusing on writing new music. “We’re always working on new music and I think right now, for me, I want to always write and create new songs. Whether it’s for Adelitas Way or for someone else or for a different project, I love to write songs and create music. As far as touring goes, unless something fantastic comes along… unless a band that we just respect comes along, I think we’re just gonna hang tight and play a few dates here and there. Our goal was to headline a tour in the U. S. once a year after we put a record out and get out and see our fans. And we’ve been so blessed to have built such a great fan-base. Other than that, we’re just gonna see what comes our way. It has to be something that we like. It has to be something that makes sense. It has to be a band that we respect. So that’s really how we’re looking at things these days,” DeJesus explained.
While making hit singles and staying on the radar are two important goals for any band to strive for, the artists of Adelitas Way have learned that there is more than one way to achieve these goals, while still maintaining control over the artwork you create. Whatever Adelitas Way brings to the table in the future, listeners can rest assured that the music will be solely through their own creation… and that makes what they do all the more impressive.