Unlocking the Truth’s Teenage Metal Maestro Transcends Novelty
WHO: The members of Unlocking the Truth might be young — singer-guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse and bassist Alec Atkins are both 14, while drummer Jarad Dawkins is 13 — but don’t call them a boy band. Rather, the Brooklyn-based three-piece specializes in grinding, thrashy jams that are more Metallica than One Direction. Brickhouse, who began playing guitar at seven years old, says he first got into heavy metal through, of all things, professional wrestling. “Jarad and I loved all the intro music the different wrestlers had,” he says. “That led us to check out bands like Disturbed and Linkin Park.” The two began jamming together, eventually adding their friend Atkins on bass and holding practices in the basement of the Brickhouse family home in East Flatbush. “We were doing covers for a long time, stuff like [Disturbed’s] ‘Down With the Sickness,'” Brickhouse recalls. “Then around 2012 we started making our own songs.”
STREET SONGS: Unlocking the Truth first came to public attention after Brickhouse’s father, Tracey, filmed the boys performing outside a Times Square subway station and uploaded it to YouTube. The clip, appropriately titled “Brutal Breakdown,” quickly went viral, and has since registered close to 2 million views. In the aftermath, the band became something of a phenomenon, opening shows for the likes of Motörhead and Guns N’ Roses, performing at festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo and on TV shows like The View, and even landing a much-publicized (and scrutinized) multi-album deal with Sony worth a reported $1.8 million. It’s all a long way from the streets of Times Square. “Those days are pretty much behind us,” Brickhouse says of playing on the sidewalk for tips. “And that’s good. Because we would stay out all day, Saturday and Sunday, doing it from 12 in the afternoon to 10 o’clock at night. It was fun … but it wasn’t that fun”
THE REAL THING: Brickhouse, Atkins and Dawkins were all in middle school when Unlocking the Truth started gaining popularity; while the singer says that his classmates like and support his band, he also admits that, for the most part, none of them listen to metal. “They’re all into rap,” he says. “I like rap too, but I’m just into metal more.” As for why he’s drawn to the heavy stuff? “Metal is, like, true. It’s real music and it actually means something. I feel like the lyrics are more personal and I can relate to them. Also, it’s fun to listen to different instruments.”
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