By Lisa Morgan
“Invincible,” the edgy, rock song that kicks off the self-titled debut album from Adelitas Way is an excellent description for lead singer Rick DeJesus. Positive, tenacious and undaunted in his focus and determination, DeJesus fronts Adelitas Way with passion and true skill. Born and raised in a rough Philly neighborhood, he grew up watching family members on drugs and going to jail. He witnessed a friend get shot in the head and killed by drug dealers. DeJesus acknowledges, “My friends were carrying guns, selling drugs, doing drugs, leading reckless lives. I knew I was going to pay the consequences.” No wonder he loves Las Vegas, where through a series of events spawned by sheer will and determination, he found musical success for himself and fellow band mates.
“This all started out as me not really knowing what this could become… honestly,” says DeJesus. “I just loved to sing. I’ve been singing since I was a kid but I never knew I could do this. The first time I found out was… you know, my brother is addicted to heroin and literally I was sitting by myself and I wrote a song, by myself… and it was almost like singing the blues. I was 17 and I wrote a song, and it was the first song I ever wrote ~ this song called “Brother,” which is on our first album.” The song “Brother” is a rock ballad to his mother who keeps hoping that his brother will change. Your heart breaks as the hardness from constant disappointment is conveyed in the lyrics as well as the music with the ultimate message of determination not to follow in the same footsteps, rings loud and clear.
How Adelitas Way came to be, is best told in DeJesus’ own words. “I was just playing small coffee shops and doing acoustic shows. I met our drummer Trevor in 2005. I was already kind of ‘going’ a little bit but I was just by myself… I was just singing and really enjoying it, but I met Trevor… man… and he was just so hard working and dedicated and we started jamming together. Then one by one we came together. My friend and best man at my wedding, Tyler, introduced me to Keith (rhythm guitar and backing vocals) and Derek (bass guitar)…and then Rob (lead guitar) lives right down the street from me.”
I asked him, when he first started getting record label attention. He quickly responded, “Immediately. They started looking at us immediately.”
Somewhat surprised, I asked how that happened.
“First of all, I sold my car and I made a demo. I had no job… I didn’t have anything, man. I literally bet all my eggs in this basket. Then I sat in my room for hours with a CD burner for a week and that’s all I did. I burned about 8,000 to 10,000 copies. And then I went out and handed them to every person that was walking around Vegas ~ anybody and everybody in Vegas. Then the first show we ever played, 700 kids showed up and in that crowd was the manager for The Killers. He heard about us because I’d handed a CD to one of his friends.” That manager is now Rick’s entertainment attorney and the band is now signed by Virgin Records.
When asked what was ahead for the band, DeJesus replied, “We’re looking forward to doing more songs off of Home School Valedictorian (there second album), but we’re also looking forward to going out and doing a headlining run on our own in the new year, just us playing for our fans, hitting every city, showing everyone that’s been supporting us that we’re excited to play for them. And then, we’re going to make a new record. This record is not over. I think we have another year on this thing…”
The first single off their second album, Home School Valedictorian, was the band’s first No. 1 hit at Active Rock Radio. “Sick” was followed up by “The Collapse,” which hit No. 3 at active rock radio. On February 16, “Criticize” was announced as the 3rd single off Home School Valedictorian, and reached #1 on the active rock chart, becoming the bands second #1 single from Home School Valedictorian. “Alive” was announced as the 4th single from the disc.
Then DeJesus said something that sums up who Rick is and why this band of brothers is going to go far: “You don’t write songs when someone tells you to, you write songs when you’re passionate and I’ve never stopped writing songs.”
DeJesus doesn’t have to do this all by himself anymore, a theme that seemed to repeat itself as he told his story prior to meeting his fellow band members. Tre Stafford, Keith Wallen, Robert Zakaryan, and Derek Johnston are his new band of brothers. The acoustic set I heard is solid proof that out from behind production and technical enhancements, these guys are the real deal; a raw talent that was an absolute treasure to discover. I can’t imagine a better forum than Mix 100.5’s Listening Lounge to really get to know and hear an artist or band. If you have any opportunity to get to one, DO NOT let it pass you by.
The fantastic story of how the band came about its name is the stuff that rock legend is made of. You can find it and more on their website adelitaswaymusic.net.