Since first gaining internet stardom as a precocious metal trio, Brooklyn’s Unlocking the Truth has gone through seemingly every loop on the rollercoaster ride of fame. They’ve gone from playing for change outside the subway to booking major festivals; they’ve recorded and now re-recorded their debut album; and, most of all, they’ve dealt with miles upon miles of corporate red tape.
Now, after months of delays, the band’s first full-length album, Chaos, is finally coming out this Friday through indie music distributor Tunecore. (Watch the video for “Take Control” below.) Plus, Breaking a Monster, the documentary by Luke Meyer that we caught at SXSW, is set to premiere later this month. (There’ll be a preview screening at Museum of the Moving Image on June 21, followed by a performance by the band.)
The new movie follows the band just after the video of their Times Square performance went incredibly viral and scored them both spots on festivals like Coachella and Bonnaroo and a $1.8 million record deal with Sony.
Since the movie finished shooting, however, Unlocking the Truth has successfully negotiated their release from that record deal, after finding the major-label program less than agreeable. They’ve also parted ways with Alan Sacks, the manager who got them the Sony deal, whose somewhat tumultuous relationship with the band is examined in detail in Breaking a Monster.
Bedford + Bowery called up Unlocking the Truth to talk about the forthcoming releases and what it’s like to be among the youngest thrashers in the game.
Ok, so you’re 13 and 14 years old, you have a movie about you, an album coming out and all this press. With all that going on, does it feel like you have life all figured out or does it only help make things even more complicated?
Malcolm Brickhouse: Like career-wise I would like to be in a heavy metal band for the rest of my life, but life-wise, nah I don’t have things figured out.
Alec Atkins: Same here.
Brickhouse: I mean I always wanted to do this for my whole life, so I don’t think there was a specific moment. I think it was when I first started playing the guitar and Jarad started playing the drums.
Dawkins: I mean we just gotta focus on the better comments than the negative ones because I don’t really focus on that.
Atkins: No, because it delayed our process a lot. If you’re supposed to have an album release a long time ago. But at the same time, we got to release better-produced music and it just sounds better because we re-recorded when we were more mature and just sounded better at our instruments. So it had its pros and cons.
Brickhouse: We’ll always be able to push forward on our own, because at the end of the day, we’re still Unlocking the Truth, you know. Nothing else makes Unlocking the Truth than Unlocking the Truth. We could be doing anything with anybody and we’re still Unlocking the Truth.
Dawkins: We also recorded more songs than the first time.
Brickhouse: We were 13 years old, so it’s not like we understood. It was more of a management thing, like our lawyers.
Dawkins: None of it is staged, they just recorded everything and then picked the parts of whatever looked good and everything. But they showed us the movie a couple times before it was released so we could see if there was anything we didn’t like and stuff. But it still shows exactly what happened.
[Update, June 17: After this interview, director Luke Meyer clarified that the band did not dictate the content of the documentary: “We had very clear and open communication with the band as we were making the film, but me and my producer wanted to makes sure we were not making a film that was a promotional piece for a band or for the record label and so we stepped into it with financing outside of the band and outside of the record label, knowing we would have creative independence from all of them,” Meyers said. “And that was very important to us and I think it played a big part in the final result. We did show them the film before it was shown publicly and had a discussion about what we were making and the decision to include certain scenes and there was never really any issue with what we included.”]
Brickhouse: We were on a pause for a while in 2015 so nothing major happened that should have been in the documentary. There was a pause on the band buzz. We stopped getting shows for a little bit, but now we’re back at it. Why is that? I don’t know. It’s like the what do you call that, Jared? It’s like the stock market.
Atkins: Yeah, we crashed for a while.
Brickhouse: It goes up and down.
Dawkins: Now the music is coming out, that’s really just the biggest change there is.
“Chaos” is out June 17 and “Breaking a Monster” will be screened at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens on June 21, at 7:30pm (tickets $15); the film opens in theaters in New York on June 24 at the Landmark Sunshine and in Los Angeles on July 1 and will then expand to theaters across the country throughout July.