When Adema played Ozzfest last year, they had all the trappings of a nü-metal band on the verge of cathartic collapse.
Their performances were explosive, buzzing with intensity, rivaling the fury of tourmates System of a Down, Rob Zombie and P.O.D. And after their shows, Adema indulged in every rock and roll cliché imaginable.
"God, man, that was just a mess for us," recalled singer Marky Chavez. "There were constantly about 25 people on our bus, and there were all these chicks and booze and drugs. Partying is fine if you can keep a handle on that situation, but it can obviously get way out of hand. It's hard to give the fans a good show when you have all these distractions around you all the time."
Had Adema continued down the path of depravity, they would've self-destructed, Chavez said. So they made some major changes, and as they cleaned up their personal lives, the tone of their music shifted as well. The bandmembers were no longer interested in writing hateful electro-metal diatribes, instead focusing on crafting more melodically structured rock songs.
"We've matured a lot," Chavez said. "The record we're working on is going to be a rock album, not a metal album. There's a lot of straight beats on it and the tones are a lot cleaner. It's still got a heavy edge at times, but it's a lot more focused."
Adema have written 16 tracks for the still-untitled album and have already recorded one song with producer Howard Benson. They're hoping to finish the rest of the material in the next six weeks and will then narrow the album down to 14 songs.
So far the material is shaping up to be a combination of old school and new. Chavez compared the drums to Mötley Crüe and the guitars to Stone Temple Pilots and Incubus. But it's U2 who provided his greatest inspiration.
"They write really good songs, and I find myself relating to almost everything Bono says," he said. "I think that's a testimony to the type of guy he is and the songwriting ability that that band has."
Lyrically, Chavez decided to forsake angst in favor of writing about daily observations and interpersonal dynamics. "Still Fortunate," a delicate ballad featuring a 30-piece orchestra, is about the loneliness of being on the road. "Promises" is a rocker about a kid who's unable to meet people's expectations, so he sets his own goals and strives to please himself instead of others. And "Stand Up" is a bird's-eye perspective on domestic abuse.
"One of my family members got into a really bad relationship and it turned really bad," Chavez explained. "So I wrote about it in a song, and it says when things get violent it's time to call it quits and it's time to move on and realize that an abusive relationship is a very unhealthy thing."
The first single from the album will be "Unstable," which explores a relationship in which the people involved are ultimately incompatible.
"It's about the curiosity between these two people," Chavez said. "They kinda want to get to know each other, and in the end they figure out they're a little more different than they thought they were."