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Adema not only lived up to the deafening advance buzz surrounding their 2001 self-titled debut, they surpassed every expectation. The first single, the Top 15 Modern Rock track "Giving In," was followed by the radio hit "The Way You Like It," helping to quickly push Adema to an impressive near Platinum sales status. The quintet's instantaneous fan base was cemented by an almost unheard-of coup - landing on the main stage of the 2001-2 Ozzfest on their first CD. More top-grossing tours kept Adema on the road for well over a year: the Music as a Weapon tour (with Drowning Pool and Disturbed), the SnoCore Rock Tour and Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution tour earned Adema fanatical fans. Not a bad start for a bunch of hyper and hungry young musicians from Bakersfield. In fact, a review in London's prestigious NME raved: "Adema's visceral, artfully succinct rock punch comes brilliantly wrapped in killer whistleable tunes." "Moody, hard and melodic," judged Rolling Stone, "a creative palette of soaring solos, singing lines and textures." The rabid fans - the only "reviewers" who truly count to Adema - have proclaimed the quintet nothing short of awesome.
The full-length follow-up to Adema's self-titled Arista debut, "Unstable," was recorded at Los Angeles' Bay 7 studios in early 2003 with producer Howard Benson (P.O.D., Hoobastank). "Unstable" is full of singer Marky Chavez' personal, often pained lyrics and the band's aggro rock intensity. "We'd all become better players from all our touring," bassist Dave DeRoo explains, "and we wanted to use that in the writing." Songs run the gamut from the suitably edgy "Unstable" to the full-on onslaught of the mosh-worthy "Needles" to the beautiful and timeless "Promises." "Unstable," the CD's first single, "is like the musical bridge between the last album and this one," explains Chavez. In "Unstable," the singer bares his soul with chilling vocals complementing the gut-wrenching words: "You bring me down like a bottle of pills / I hate the way that you make me feel / I keep coming back, I never get killed." While Chavez is unafraid to dig deep for both his soulful vocals and highly personal subject matter, some lyrics reflect the feelings and lives of others, including his bandmates. "As the mouthpiece, I try to write what the band feels and get feedback," Chavez explains.
Providing musical balance on "Unstable" are some unexpectedly poignant tunes. There is the beautiful, lilting melodicism of "So Fortunate," with its touches of strings (written about Chavez' infant son) to "Let Go," a song where Chavez flipped his perceptions. "I stopped thinking about what people weren't good at and looked at them as them, appreciating them as a person, and letting go of my bullshit and things that made me mad."
Adema's potent live show helped earn them millions of rabid rock fans. In fact, the seven-song remix and cover EP "Insomniac's Dream" EP, released in October 2002, was a "gift to fans" to keep Adema-maniacs happy. In addition to "Immortal" (recorded for the Mortal Kombat®: Deadly AllianceTM video game), the 7-song EP included two other previously unreleased tracks: "Shattered" and a mesmerizing cover of Alice In Chains' "Nutshell." Alternate versions of four songs from the debut album included the Chris Vrenna [Nine Inch Nails] remix of "Freaking Out"; the Sam Seaver [Beastie Boys] remix of "The Way You Like It"; a live version of "Do What You Want To Do," and the radio single version of "Giving In."
While Adema are clearly a mix of influences, unafraid to experiment, at the band's core, there's an inherent, instinctual combination of pure joy and fury: "We go on stage and rock!" states hard-hitting drummer Kris Kohls of Adema's live M.O. "We don't go onstage and nu metal,'" he laughs. "We're sick of that phrase. ROCK - it's such a broad word that it doesn't categorize you. From STP to Metallica to Weezer to the Cure, rock encompasses it all." "Unstable," like Adema's power-packed and emotional live gigs, does ROCK, even the CD's mellower tunes possess a visceral force and passion. "There are essentially no drum loops or keyboards on our new record," explains guitarist Tim Fluckey, adding, "Hey, live, we're not 'sequencers'; we're a balls-out rock band!" And new songs like the metallic monster of a tune that is "Needles" proves the guitar guru right. Adema's other guitarist, Ransom, couldn't be happier with how "Unstable" turned out. "Unstable makes me like our first record even better. It's like how every new U2 album makes me listen to their other stuff all over again."
Chavez kicked ass working on "Unstable," and is also justifiably proud of the CD. "I took a lot of initiative; three times a week I was in vocal training, because I believe that as a singer, you always need to top yourself." While his youth and street-wise vibe come across on stage, Chavez also notes that he wouldn't mind if Adema were like Led Zeppelin. "Not musically," he quickly clarifies. "But their elasticity of musical styles and the meaning behind the lyrics. U2 and Bono have really influenced me lately; I admire his vocal range. And also, Nirvana. I can't tell you how much I listened to the beautiful simplicity of Kurt's writing and was inspired," Chavez says. "This record, inside and out, is us," Chavez affirms. "We're not afraid to experiment, take the next step, but we're not capitalizing on any sound du jour," he states. "Everything about this band is personal. And the fans appreciate that we're not smoke and mirrors," he concludes. "When I look back on my life I need to know I was honest with music and myself and the band."
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Adema - "Kill The Headlights"