Adelitas Way

Adelitas Way

On their upcoming third album, Adelitas Way intensify their brand of hard-edged rock with a tighter songwriting sensibility and more brutally raw energy than ever before. To create the album, the Las Vegas-based quartet joined forces with Nick Raskulinecz (a Grammy-winning producer who's previously worked with artists like Alice in Chains, Foo Fighters, and Queens of the Stone Age) and holed up for eight weeks of nonstop recording in a cabin deep in the woods outside Nashville. Featuring the brooding but fiery lead single "Dog on a Leash," the follow-up to 2011's Home School Valedictorian proves to be the most refined yet thrillingly gritty album that Adelitas Way has offered up so far.

With "Dog on a Leash"—a slow-burner that blends lead-heavy riffs, thunderous drums, haunting guitar tones, and stirring vocals—Adelitas Way has deepened their sound while staying true to the fierceness of spirit the band's embraced since their 2009 debut (a self-titled effort featuring the chart-topping single "Invincible," now the theme song for WWE Superstars). For singer/songwriter Rick DeJesus, guitarist Robert Zakaryan, bassist Andrew Cushing, and drummer Trevor Stafford, striking that balance began with devoting nearly two years to writing the songs that would eventually make up the album. "Coming up with the songs for this record, it was really important for us to take the time we needed to let everything come together naturally, and also to make sure the lyrics and melodies and music were the strongest we've ever done," says DeJesus.

Along with developing more powerful hooks and broader arrangements to shape each of the new songs in the band's arsenal, Adelitas Way allowed an urgent, gut-punching intensity to fuel every step of their songwriting process. "I wanted the emotion of each song to be so strong that you could feel it bleeding through the music, whether it's angst or heartbreak or loss, or even something from one of the more feel-good songs on the album," DeJesus points out. "To me songs that have that kind of raw feeling are the ones that really get through and change people."

While some of the songs saw their inception with a lyric or a melody from DeJesus, other tracks were born from riffs that the band generated during their many tireless jam sessions. "We spent weeks jamming and working on songs, which helped the final version to feel natural and real once we actually recorded," says DeJesus. That prep work turned out to be invaluable in readying the band to record with Raskulinecz, an experience that DeJesus likens to a musical boot camp. "Nick's not the kind of producer who'll tell you, 'Oh, we'll just edit it later,'" says DeJesus. "There was no cutting or pasting or computer magic—it was just like, 'You're gonna sing it and play it right all the way through, and that's what's gonna go on the record." Raskulinecz also helped Adelitas Way cultivate a more dynamic sound by working with the band to strengthen their arrangements and take their songs into directions they hadn't explored before. "It was a constant learning and growing process, and Nick really helped push us both mentally and physically," DeJesus notes.

When it came time to record, Adelitas Way and Raskulinecz spent ten hours a day working on songs in their cabin studio. "We were pretty secluded out there in the woods, which I think is better for making a record than being in a city like L.A. where you have so many distractions," says DeJesus. "There's a different level of focus in working like that, and all we had to think about all day long was building a connection with the people who were going to hear this album." Even after leaving the studio for the day, DeJesus continued to work on crafting the band's latest batch of songs. "I'd go back home and sit down and work on lyrics some more, making sure all of the songs were right and telling the story I needed and wanted to tell," he says.

Despite all that steadfast effort, the album emerges as a product of pure passion, nervy energy, and an irresistible simplicity that's evident in its bold and brash sound. "With this album it wasn't like, 'Let's try out all these new things'—it was more like we were trying out less things," says DeJesus. "We weren't saying, 'Let's try hiding the guitar tone, let's stack 50 guitars to make it sound huge, let's tune the vocals and add synth and beats and whatever else.' We just wanted to keep it stripped-down and make some really great music." Noting that his songwriting is largely influenced by the visceral, uncompromising alt-rock that bands like Nirvana and Soundgarden pioneered in the late-'80s and early-'90s, DeJesus adds that Adelitas Way was adamant about limiting the new album to live instrumentation (including a grand piano and string section along with the built-in lineup of guitar, bass, and drums). "When I was younger I watched Nirvana wipe out an entire generation of pop, which was something really inspiring to me in making an album at a time when rock's become sort of a black sheep in the music world," he says.

For Adelitas Way, one of the most crucial benefits to keeping their sound rough and rugged is clearing a more direct pathway to connection with the listener. "A song like 'Dog on a Leash'—that's about feeling like you need to ask permission to do what you want, like you're under the mercy of someone else, whether it's your boss or an overbearing girlfriend or boyfriend or whoever, which is something I've seen happen so many times to people in my life," DeJesus explains. By drawing out those pained and primal emotions in their music, Adelitas Way aim to ultimately empower their listeners with a sense of release. "Hearing a song that's about something you're dealing with and realizing you're not alone is so important for getting through things," says DeJesus. "That's what I want our songs to help people to do. And when someone connects with a song so much that they think we wrote it specifically about them, that's when I know we've gotten the job done."

Awake At Last

Awake At Last strives to create music that speaks to the human condition of beauty, pain, and hardships. "Mansion Of Memories was written in a dark time for the band so it has a darker approach, but retains an overall positive message we try to relay in all of our songs," Torres comments. The passion for their lyrics also bleeds into the music creation as well. "Everyone brings something different to the table because we come from different musical backgrounds and lifestyles" explains bassist Tyler Greene, but through all their differences they all share the same goal of writing strong and energetic rock and metal influenced songs with contributions from each band member. "When we write music, usually a band member will come to rehearsal with a riff or chord progression they had been working on and as a band we all take turns throwing out ideas and slowly forming the foundation, later adding little transitions and sound tags" explains drummer Bryan Mills.
Awake At Last continues to spread their message through music that no matter who you are or what life you live, dreams are never as far away as the world may make them seem. Vincent, Eric, Bryan, and Tyler all bring elements of great, entertaining, and catchy rock songs to bring fans and loved ones closer, and to share their music and experiences with anyone willing to listen.

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