Adelitas Way singer calls out rock ’n’ roll radio stations


Midway through the interview, I begin to wonder if Rick DeJesus could charge a cellphone through his voice alone.

This is the energy with which the guy speaks.

Actually, “speaks” may be the wrong way to put it — he doesn’t conversate so much as radiate words the way a bolt of lightning does heat.

There are times when he seems less a man than an electric current in guise of one.

What’s gotten DeJesus so righteously worked up on a recent Friday afternoon is the state of rock ’n’ roll radio, more specifically, how hard it is for a band like the one DeJesus fronts, Vegas rockers Adelitas Way, to find a home on the airwaves these days.

“Can I tell you a funny story?” he asks while barely pausing to allow time for an answer, speaking from a tour stop in North Dakota.

DeJesus proceeds to recall a recent Adelitas Way and Three Days Grace gig in St. Louis, where he called out a local radio station whose banners were all over the venue even though the station doesn’t give time to either band, according to DeJesus.

“I get up onstage and say, ‘Hey, do you guys feel embarrassed hanging your banners in this room knowing that you don’t play any of these bands?’ ” he recalls, his voice bubbling with excitement, like a carbonated beverage that’s been shaken too vigorously. “I caused this huge controversy because I called them out and said, ‘St. Louis, the reason that you’re not getting rock is your rock station.’ A lot of places in the country are doing that, they’re switching their formats, they’re taking rock away.”

DeJesus is not alone in saying as much.

Linkin Park recently went on the same crusade with the release of their more guitar-driven new album, “The Hunting Party,” which they have also had difficulty convincing radio outlets to embrace despite being one of the biggest acts of their ilk, ensnaring them in a war of words with Australian synth pop group Churches, the kind of band that is receiving plenty of play on alternative radio nowadays.

But if anything, DeJesus is even more vehement and unflinching in expressing his point of view.

Plus, he has a fresh bullet in the chamber to fire at the radio powers-that-be: Adelitas Way’s new record, “Stuck,” released on Tuesday, which the band will commemorate with an in-store performance at 7 p.m. Thursday at Zia Records Eastern (4225 S. Eastern Ave.).

It’s the band’s third album for major label Virgin Records, and follows up 2011’s “Home School Valedictorian,” which sold more than 130,000 copies and earned the band a pair of No. 1 singles on the active rock charts.

It’s a pivotal record for the band, following three years of near-constant roadwork from the group and recorded by one of the biggest contemporary rock producers, Nick Raskulinecz, who’s worked with Rush, Alice In Chains, Foo Fighers, Deftones and many others.

“Nick Raskulinecz was crucial in doing this album, because we wanted it to sound as live as possible,” DeJesus says. “We didn’t want to edit it up with seven layers of vocals. Everything you hear on that record I sang. Everything you hear on that record we played. We practiced for eight hours a day to make sure we were able to do it that way.”

You can hear it on the album: It’s a teeth bared, in-your-face sounding record that opens with a growl (“Dog on a Leash”), where DeJesus seethes over muscular guitars, before sampling BeeGees-worthy melodies (“Keep Me Waiting”), breathy torch songs with an electronic pulse (“Undivided”) and even a few symphonic flourishes (“We Came”).

It’s not music critic rock; it won’t penetrate this year’s Village Voice Pazz &Jop poll.

It’s like the rock ’n’ roll equivalent of an effects-laden summer popcorn flick, a crowd-pleaser with the masses in mind.

With an album like “Stuck,” Adelitas Way are positioning themselves to develop a Nickelback-like following.

Plenty of groups would turn their noses up at a comparison like that, but, then again, Nickelback packs arenas and sells millions of records.

Adelitas Way has the potential to do the same.

Thing is, Nickelback’s success was driven, in large part, by heavy radio play, which Adelitas Way is still fighting for.

Still, DeJesus seems undeterred.

If radio won’t have his band, he’ll have at radio.

“We’re so motivated, man,” he says. “We’re like that bug they step on, and then the legs keep moving, we pop up and run away again.”

Contact reporter Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow on Twitter @JasonBracelin.