The Weekly interview: Frontman Rick DeJesus of Vegas-based hard-rock band Adelitas Way

Adelitas Way frontman Rick DeJesus, second from right, is ready for the late-night talk show circuit.
Chris Bitonti

Where are you guys right now? We’re out with Three Days Grace, just driving through South Dakota. Every show is sold out, so the tour’s going great.

No matter how much the mainstream media tries to kill rock ’n’ roll, it’s still alive. It’s like Fight Club—we walk into these dingy bars, and you don’t know what to expect. Then you get 400, 500, sometimes 1,500 people, slammed into a place ready to go.

Tell us a bit about your new record. We did it in Nashville. We feel like everyone complains that everything sounds the same, so we didn’t want to make a one-tone record. We started from our roots—we went into a jam room for eight hours a day, and the goal was to make the record sound as organic as possible, going back to when bands jammed in bars. We tried to capture our live show as much as we could.

We really have done this the grass-roots way. We’ve never had one big promotion; we’ve never been on a TV show or in a magazine. We’ve built the fanbase we have through driving to a city and just putting on a spectacular live show. And we still hand out guitar picks and CDs and posters to everybody who doesn’t know who we are. That’s why I think we’re still here all these years later.

There’s is a lot of push behind this record. Does it feels like you have a lot riding on its success, trying to get into the top tier of rock bands? I feel like every record feels like that. And I don’t think it’s make or break to get us into the top tier of rock bands—I think it’s make or break to get us into the top tier of all bands. I think if we wanna be comparable to what is dominating music nowadays, this is our shot. If we’re trying to have a Top 40 radio hit and we’re trying to play arenas like Imagine Dragons, this is our shot.

As far as becoming an elite rock band, it’s gonna happen, either this record or next record. We’re on our way. A lot of bands are complaining about the state of music right now, and we don’t really have that attitude. We’re gonna drive right through it, continue to barrel through no matter what is going on in today’s music scene, with people not buying records. We’re not gonna let that deter us.

But I think as far as us reaching out to every single person in the world, us becoming a full household name, yeah, this record is very big for us.

Given the changing nature of the music business as you mentioned, what does success look like to you, specifically for this record? I think on our end, success, is just our fans hearing it. I think rock ’n’ roll has been quite blacklisted. Even though we had two No. 1 hits off our last record and we sold as many records as some of these pop bands who have been on Leno five times, they just won’t have us on. I don’t know if they’re afraid of us. I don’t know if rock is a little dangerous. I don’t get invited to anything. We sold a million singles on our last record, but I don’t get invited to the VMAs. So I think the only way we know how to do it, the only way we’ve ever done it, is to come play these sold-out shows and make sure we blow people away.

Our expectations are the same as every album: This band is gonna go around and sell over 100,000 records by hand. And that is success to me, as long as the fans love the album, which I believe they will because we worked very hard on it. It’s always about the people who do support us. Other than that I’m at the mercy of the record label and whoever wants to do an interview with us or have us on the show. I know we’re better than all these bands—the Bleachers and Fun.—they’re not as good as us live, they’re not putting out material that we’re putting out, but it’s the now thing. We’ll be around for a long time.

You guys play in-store at Zia this week. Do you plan to do a full performance here anytime soon? I think we’re gonna come back to Vegas on The Pretty Reckless tour. We’re gonna play Vinyl and headline one more time before the year ends, because we love our city and we’re proud to call Vegas home. We’re on tour and we’re driving 15 hours do the Zia thing—we fly out the next day to West Virginia to play a festival, but we wanted to make sure we gave our hometown the love it deserves for all the support they give us. We wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else.

Adelitas Way July 31, 7 p.m., free. Zia Record Exchange, 4225 S. Eastern Ave., 702-735-4942.

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