Last Thursday I took the L train to the end of the line and caught up with Unlocking the Truth, a heavy metal trio composed of three sixth graders, Malcolm Brickhouse, Jarad Dawkins and Alec Atkins. We were first made away of these guys after we saw some of their videos on YouTube, which show the trio absolutely destroying Times Square. Some people have referred to them as "childcore," but those people probably can't play music well enough to appreciate the epic crushiness these 11-year-olds pump out. These guys play seriously brutal metalcore, and they're better than whatever sixth grade band you were in. This is what we're talking about:
Malcolm and Jarad have known eachother since day one—literally—and they met their bassist, Alec, in daycare. We met at their rehearsal lair in East Flatbush. It's in Malcolm's mom's basement, who they refer to as their "momager." Before I could say a word they handed me a fresh pack of neon green earplugs and began to maim me with what was for sure some of the heaviest sonic shrapnel ever to erupt from such small hands.
After an hour or so of photographing and listening to them rip through their set, I got a rare chance to sit down and chat with these little tykes about how rap is wack, how homework always comes first, and how Skittles are basically universal.
Noisey: I see on the wall that you guys have a lot of dates lined up for summer—Webster Hall, Lincoln Center—are those for real?
Jarad: No, those are our imaginary tour dates. Places that we want to go when we get big and successful.
Oh. Huh. Are you guys just into metal or do you like other music?
Malcolm: I'm into metal and pop.
Jarad: I'm into metal and hip hop and R&B.
Alec: I'm into metal and dubstep and pop.
What do you mean by pop?
Malcolm: Lady Gaga.
Does your mom listen to metal too?
Malcolm: No. She listens to R&B.
Jarad: She listens to house music.
Are you guys trying to educate your parents about metal?
Jarad: No. My mom just likes the songs we make. She doesn't like the songs that we listen to.
Where do you guys get the ideas for your songs?
Jarad: Well, people judge Malcolm about… he wears nail polish and I dealt with it once and I see what Malcolm felt because everybody judged him, but I ignored it and I think he does too. Alec do you get judged?
Alec: No… I go to a weird school so, like, anything happens.
Do you feel like doing metal is different than what other kids your age are listening to at school?
Malcolm: Yep. Most of them listen to rap.
What do you guys think about rap?
Malcolm: I don't like it at all.
Alec: Rap is meaningless.
Jarad: Yeah, I mean I like it a little. I don't listen to much of it anymore because of how much I like metal now. In my phone I only have like five rap songs and everything else is probably metal.
Malcolm: They ask us why we don't listen to rap.
And what do you tell them?
Malcolm: It's wack. Rap is wack.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Jarad: We like to listen to Motionless in White. Malcolm and Alec like Escape the Fate, but I don't. Mainly my favorite band right about now is Chelsea Grin, a deathcore band. They haven't stopped touring since 2008, they have an EP called Evolve which I listen to almost everyday.
Malcolm: This is our interview not theirs.
Jarad: I know.
So you guys play outside a lot in Times Square. What's that even like?
Jarad: There's a lot of constructive criticism during the day. The bucket seems to get full every set from now on since Alec has joined the band and everybody's been looking for us to get a bass player. Everything's been going very good in Times square. The thing is I hate when we gotta pay for our own food and drinks and hot chocolate or whatever 'cause in Times square in April it's kind of cold but then in the afternoon it gets hot and then it goes back cold again. We had to pay for hot chocolate, it came out of our expenses.
Is hot chocolate part of your ritual? Any other rituals before you go on stage?
Jarad: I usually do paradiddles. It's a drum strategy to get my arms in shape.
Malcolm: I sweep pick. And when I perform, I get nervous and start talking to myself. I say random things to myself to make me forget about why I'm nervous. I don't know how that works. Or I sing to myself.
Alec: Before I perform I play "Seven Nation Army" to get my arm into shape because it's on a whole bunch of different frets where you have to skip so, it helps with my arm.
So do you guys totally rule at Guitar Hero and Rock Band and stuff like that?
Malcolm: I do.
What's your high score?
Malcolm. A hundred. A hundred percent.
What song were you playing when you killed it?
Jarad: "Bat Country," by Avenged Sevenfold.
Do you think it helps you play the guitar?
Malcolm: Yeah I think so. It stretches my fingers out.
What kind of food do you guys like to eat?
Alec: Chinese food.
What about candy? I think when I was your age I was eating a lot of candy.
Jarad: We don't eat candy.
Alec: My signature candy is mint M&Ms.
I didn't even know they made mint M&Ms.
Jarad: Alec's signature cereal is Fruit Loops and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.
Alec: It's the mini-wheat things.
Jarad: Candy is too sour and sugary. The only candy I would probably eat now are Skittles.
What are some of your favorite classes besides music?
Jarad: I hate every other class except science. Science is so interesting and fascinating.
Malcolm: I like science and social studies. Science is interesting, all those cells, stuff like that. And social studies is like a comic book with all those wars and fights.
Alec: My two favorites are ELA and social studies.
You got a band and also a lot of homework - how do you guys balance it all?
Jarad: Homework is always first for me.
Malcolm: I do my homework in school.
Jarad: I didn't get homework for the past three days, wonder why but..
Malcolm: I barely get homework.
Alec: Me too. Barely get homework.
Jarad: Well actually I didn't get homework for the past two weeks.
What was your first guitar?
Malcolm: My first guitar was a blue acoustic First Act guitar from Toys R' Us.
Is it hard to play now that you're used to the big one?
Tell me about your show at the Apollo Theater.
Malcolm: We had to audition to get on it and we got picked, then we had to go to the Apollo and compete with other people and we won the first round and lost the second round to a girl singing Adele.
You guys said you had a singer? What happened there?
Jarad: He was a very difficult person to work with so… things change, things come along.
Singers are always hard to work with. What's your advice to younger musicians?
Malcolm: Don't give up.
Jarad: Believe in your dreams. Hard work pays off and do what you do best.
Alec: Follow your heart.http://noisey.vice.com/blog/unlocking-the-truth-is-the-most-brutal-sixth-grade-metal-band-ever-ever-ever-ever