Unlocking The Truth is a group of rockers who took the world by storm with the video below. They’re now world renowned, having performed at Afropunk, South by Southwest, Coachella, and on the Colbert Report, and much more. We at False Prophet love their style and sent our former teenage rocker, Allyson, to interview the Brooklyn trio.
False Prophet: I have to start by saying that I grew up listening to rock and metal bands such as Danzig, Tool, Nirvana, and Faith No More. My musical tastes have branched out since my teenage days, but there is something about that type of music that speaks to me. The first time I saw the (now famous) YouTube clip of Unlocking the Truth rocking out in Times Square my jaw dropped. The music you all performed bought me right back to that feeling of being a teenager in love with rock music again, so for that, I thank you.
So, how in the world did you all, at the age of 13, become so bad ass at your instruments? It seems like you would have to practice day and night for an insane amount of years, and yet it did not take you that long to get to a level where adults around the world are stunned at your talent. Can you tell me about your practice schedule? When did you realize that Unlocking The Truth had the potential for success?
MALCOLM (guitar): The band practices once or twice a week for about two to three hours. I practice at least an hour or two every day. We also performed all day in Times Square. We would play on and off for 30 minutes and take 15-30 minute breaks from 1:00 pm until 9:00 pm. I realized the Unlocking The Truth had true potential when we won at Amateur Night at the Apollo, when I saw the views on YouTube rise dramatically and when more and more people started recognizing us at venues and in the city.
ALEC (bass): I became so badass :) at my instrument by practicing as often as I can and enjoying and loving what I do. I practice daily at home on my own and on most weekends we practice as a group. I don't know the exact moment when I realize we had the potential for great success. Every time we performed the crowds reaction made me feel that we would be successful.
JARAD (drums): It took a lot of practice. Malcolm and I would practice every weekend when we were younger. We started playing when we were 5 and 6 years old. I would come over on weekends for a playdate and we would end up playing music. As we got older and knew that we had discovered something new (talent), we would play all night just to make sure we captured perfection. Now that we have a bassist, we try to get in as much/many practices as we can. That way we all can hear and correct the sound and make it something that we and the world would love to hear.
The band originated in 2007. We realized we had potential when we played our first song for Malcolm's mother in their basement. That’s where Malcolm and I used to play. We started with covers of bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, and Linkin Park. Malcolm and I then came to the conclusion that we wanted to make our own music and, we started making our own music. Once we did this, I knew we had potential to do almost anything. We played one of our first collaborated songs for Malcolm's mother. She said if we kept it up we were going to be good enough for the Apollo. That's when we actually took this band seriously.
After our win at the Apollo, we, Unlocking the Truth, knew/had a feeling of success. That was one of the band’s first milestones. Though we weren't called UTT then, but were known as Tears of Blood, we kinda faintly smelled success. Having added a bassist to the band, it helped enhance our music. It gave us a unique sound. To have been called to perform on the stage at Coachella with such big acts as Pharell, Wu Tang, Lorde, Queens of the Stone Age and many others, our lives just took on a whole new perspective. We were the youngest band out there. Wow!
Image credit: Afropunk.com
False Prophet: Let’s say I happened to bump into you while you were listening to something with your headphones on, who would you be listening to? Who are your biggest musical influences? Do you listen to music while you do homework?
MALCOLM: Lately, I have been listening to a lot of Slipknot. I’ve been listening to their new album, The Gray Chapter. I also like to listen to Nothing More, Escape The Fate and, of course, Unlocking The Truth. My biggest musical influences are Cory Taylor, Vernon Reid, Chelsea Grin, Dan Donegan and David Draimen. Yes, I do listen to music while I do my homework and it drives my mother insane.
ALEC: I listen to different genres of music, therefore I really couldn't say who I would be listening to if you were to bump into me with my headphones on. My biggest musical influences are Living Color, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Motionless In White, Metallica and Chelsea Grin. No I don't listen to music while I do homework.
JARAD: I can't really say that I'll be listening to my musical influences because I basically listen to a lot of different genres. I do listen to some of my influences but I listen to different genres - not all are part of same genres. Some of my inspiration comes from Avenged Sevenfold, Disturbed, Metallica, Chelsea Grin, Memphis May Fire, Like Moths to Flames, and many more. To answer your other question, yes, I do listen to music when I do my homework. It helps keep my focus and helps me remove all the chaos around me. It calms me a lot.
Image credit: soulhead.com
False Prophet: Speaking of homework...how are you able to concentrate in school now that you have such a busy schedule recording and performing? Do you feel that your classmates and teachers treat you any differently now that you have signed a record deal? When you think about life after high school, is college part of the picture or will you pursue music full time?
MALCOLM: Lately, my schedule hasn’t been that busy, but when I am working, I log on to an online program that teaches me what I need to know. My school uses the same textbooks, so I am able to keep up with my class. I go to a Christian school, so the teachers and students do not treat me differently because we are taught not to idolize anybody except for God. There is more to music than just performing. There a business side that I really need to learn about, so college will be part of my life.
ALEC:There is no specific order or method as to how I am able to concentrate - I just do. My parents tell me daily that they support my music career but my education comes first, therefore I make it a priority to maintain an even balance between the two. No. I don't feel that my classmates and teachers treat me differently now that we have signed a record deal. When I think about life after high school I definitely think about college. It is extremely important to me and my parents that I go to college. I plan on attending college while pursuing my music career. If my schedule doesn't allow me to attend college classes in the classroom then I'll definitely take online courses.
JARAD: Well I always remind myself that my homework/schoolwork is done and I'm able to maintain my grades. I have to/must remain an A and B student. When we're traveling we have a teacher who travels with us (Alec and myself) who also teaches at our school. We have 3- to 4-hour class days. Then we’re able to practice, record, or take breaks at times. College is part of the picture for me, at least the 4 years that I'm supposed to go. I must have something other to do than just music.
Image credit: rollingstone.com
False Prophet: I notice that all three of you wear sometimes punk, sometimes skater influenced fashion. Is there a particular musician or fashion icon who you admire for his or her style of dress? Do you feel like having a certain “look” is important when you perform?
MALCOLM: I don’t really have a certain fashion style. I just dress with clothes that I like but I o like the skater look, but there is not really a style I am going for.
ALEC: There isn't any musician or fashion icon that I admire right now for his or her style of dress. Yes, having a certain look is important to me when I perform because it makes me feel and look like a professional musician.
JARED: I really don't notice the style of clothing, I'm not really into looks. I'm all about giving a great show. Being a great performer is my main mission. I want people to go home happy and say that this was one of the best performances/shows they've seen. I believe that your look can help in some aspects. But for me looks are not the most important.
Image credit: youtube.com
False Prophet: We saw you perform at Afropunk last summer and hope you will be back for Afropunk 2015. Who were your favorite performances at the last Afropunk? Any tours planned for 2015?
MALCOLM: I got to see the Cro-mags at Afropunk and they were great. We have a few performances so far for this year. We are performing at the Brooklyn Night Bazaar, Rock On The Range, and Wolf Trap.
ALEC: MeatLoaf Muzik was my favorite performance.
JARED: I wanted to see Body Count because I missed them at Heavy Montreal last summer and I missed them at Afropunk because I had something to do the day they performed or was being interviewed or something. So far for 2015 we have Rock on the Range in May, Banaroo and SxSW so far. We'll have more dates to come shortly.
False Prophet: Thanks for giving us some insight into your daily lives! We can't wait to see you perfom again!