I meant to be more efficient with getting these ShipRocked mini-series posts up, but unfortunately my video card decided it was time for the fans to die. So I’ve been dealing with trying to keep it from overheating all week! Not the nicest problem to have as both a graphic designer and a photographer… At any rate, this next ShipRocked feature is dedicated to my talented and good friends in Adelitas Way!
The first time I ever saw Adelitas Way was before I had actually gotten into music photography. Way back in ’09, I bought tickets to go see a Theory of a Deadman and Halestorm show. Sometime between buying the tickets and the actual show date three months later, I discovered Adelitas Way by some other method than noticing they were actually the opening band on that tour.
In those three months, I absolutely fell in love with their self-titled, debut album. It was one of those needle in a haystack gems, where I can listen to the entire album all the way through without feeling the urge to skip a single song. Needless to say, I was stoked when I connected the dots and realized I was getting to see them live. I wrote a pretty embarrassing (for me to read now) review after that show, but the takeaways are still worth sharing. Vocalist Rick DeJesus’ voice carries flawlessly from record to live show and Trevor Stafford will catch both your ear and eye while he’s flipping sticks behind the drums.
I was still getting the hang of the whole camera thing when I photographed Adelitas Way for the first time in 2011 while they were on the Carnival of Madness tour. Guitarists Rob Zakaryan, Keith Wallen and bassist Derek Johnston had joined the band by then and the chemistry of the five guys was perfect. Their second album Home School Valedictorian had been released earlier that summer and I was enjoying it just as much as I had enjoyed the first. “Sick,” “Cage The Beast,” and the “I Wanna Be” were heavier hitting songs that got the concert crowds going, while staying in touch with the softer side on “Alive.”
Although I had briefly met and talked to the guys after almost every show I’d seen them at, I don’t think they started recognizing me until I kept shoving my colorful hair and camera in their faces on three dates in a row of the 2012 Rockstar Uproar tour. Naturally, their energy and expressiveness on stage made it pretty easy to get some fun shots. Keith and then Derek’s departures in 2013 were bittersweet, but I’ve been glad to at least see Keith back on stage with Breaking Benjamin!
In 2014, Adelitas Way was part of all the World’s Loudest Month festivals. I managed to run into Rob early in the day before they were scheduled to play at Welcome to Rockville and he introduced me to the new bassist, Andrew Cushing. When Rock on the Range rolled around a couple weeks later, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to shoot them from on stage. It was relieving to see Andrew meshed well with the other guys and still carried a fun stage presence, headbanging his curls around.
Rick has a history of doing a stage dive from time to time at the end of their set when the crowd is right! (Make him proud, ShipRocked!!!)
Speaking of Rick, I’m not sure how I got this far without giving him some proper recognition. On top of his charming smile, he’s the guy behind many of the Adelitas Way lyrics. He also has his own record label, created after leaving Virgin Records because he wasn’t interested in being another Coldplay. No offense to Coldplay of course, but major ups to Rick and the band for standing up for themselves and creating the music they actually want to make. Adelitas Way released their fifth studio album Notorious this past October, making it their second album under the new label. The first single from the album, “Ready for War (Pray for Peace)” is yet another one that I can listen to on repeat for hour.
A couple months after Rock on the Range, there was a festival announced in West Virginia called Mayhem on the Mountain. Adelitas Way, Hoobastank, Drowning Pool amongst a handful of others were on the lineup, so I thought, “Sure, why not?” Only the thing was, the closer I got to the venue the more I started to realize how far out in BFE this place was. I’m talking cardboard signs pointing up and down dirt driveways leading you to the top of a mountain kind of BFE. To make matters worse, it was pouring rain by noon. The stage set up and number of vendors ended up being pretty impressive, but the crowd turn out was sadly the exact opposite. Nonetheless, the guys remained in good humor about it and played their hearts out to the handful of people that did show.
With such a casual atmosphere, Rob had me snag an impromptu promo shot that ended up being featured in an interview he did with Gibson.
At this point, Adelitas Way is one of the bands I’ve seen the most live, and they bring the same energy and dedication no matter whether it’s a 100000 capacity arena or 500 max capacity venue. I still get excited (for myself AND for them) every time they’re announced on major festivals.
Sadly, I didn’t realize when I saw Adelitas Way opening up on tour with Alter Bridge last October that it would be the last time I’d be seeing Rob play with them for the foreseeable future. If I’d known, I would’ve taken a moment to give him a more proper thank you for all the memories, opportunities and photos he’s given me over the years with the hope of it being more like a, “See ya later!” than an actual goodbye. It’s pretty hard for me to imagine the band without him, but I look forward to meeting Ryan Guanzon on ShipRocked, who’s been filling Rob’s shoes in the meantime.
And don’t forget… ANDREW WANTS YOU to come checkout Adelitas Way on ShipRocked at 10:00pm on Tuesday, January 23rd at the Deck 5 Victoria Lounge (filling in for Badflower) and 3:30pm on Wednesday, January 24th at the Deck 9 Deck Stage. Their meet and greet will be after their set on Wednesday at 5:00pm on Deck 5. Adelitas Way will also be performing with POD and Joyous Wolf at Miliken’s Reef in Port Canaveral on January 20th for the official ShipRocked 2018 Pre-Party. Be sure to check them out!