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Exclusive Interview: Unlocking the Truth – Brooklyn’s Metal Street Soldiers

Trayvon Martin’s verdict made a lot of us stop and think.

I had crafted this interview around the trial.

After the verdict, I struggled for weeks with how to express my thoughts without ruining what was an overwhelmingly positive and all-round fun interview. Then riding to work on the bus, I saw something that helped me.

On a crowded morning commute, I saw two young, black kids who couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12 years old. They were conversing loudly over what I first assumed was fake ‘gangsta’ posturing. What I instead discovered were two harmless, little dudes having a fun debate about something. Whatever it was, it amused the adult black man next to them. He interacted and shared their humor. When a wheelchair-bound man exited the bus, an older, bespectacled white man pulled down a folded seat to sit. When he saw the two young boys approach to sit, he got up and moved.

Now was this a reaction to their race or was it the fact that these two kids were laughing extensively? The real truth is unknown, however, the older black man saw it, and while he bit his lip, he openly stared at the man and the abruptness he had shown in dealing with these kids. The older brotha then turned to the young men and informed them of the transgression that had just occurred. As their stop arrived, both the older black man and the white man got off the bus. The two boys erupted with laughter soon after. Though they seemed to appreciate the older brotha’s candor, they were completely unaware of the alleged racist slight.

Race is still a hard talk among Americans adults. So how do we talk to our kids without passing on the virus of fear and hate? For Black Americans, that concern has always been front and center. Our battle wounds have only just begun to heal. Now, a new era brings the same challenges in other disturbing ways. The secret world of American teenagers is scary as it is, but add race, sexual identity or any array of social concoctions, and it becomes toxic. So walking the walk as a young, Black American male is a dangerous game, but now try taking it to the next level and building your own path — the path to freedom; this is a daunting task. It is precisely why I felt privileged and blessed to talk to these young inhabitants of Planet Brooklyn, especially at such an inauspicious time.

Unlocking the Truth gives you a look into three kids who dare to come clean with who they are. Malcolm Brickhouse on guitar, Jarad Dawkins on drums, and now Alec Atkins on bass.

At the tender ages of 11 to 12, these kids are challenging you to deal with it.

Rude One: What attracted you to Metal? I caught nuthin’ but grief as a kid for being a Rude boy who was a New waver and punk rock sympathizer.

Malcolm: What attracted me to metal was the intro music to WWE wrestling and the background music to Naruto (Japanese anime).

Jarad: The sounds, the hype, and all the craziness about it. Malcolm and I used to go to wrestling matches and also watched animated music videos and we liked what we heard. The sounds of the music and the effect it had on the wrestlers when they came out of the locker-room all pumped and ready to fight helped us to create what we wanted to do and sound like.

Alec: My friend Malcolm always listened to metal when I would go over to his house and he would play it on his guitar and I thought it was very cool.

Rude One: No matter what the era, bullies always fascinate me, that despite their obvious status, they’re still concerned about what you do. What keeps you guys goin’ when folks pick on you or openly doubt you?

Malcolm: What keeps me going is trying to prove them wrong because I know one day I will become something good.

Jarad: Well, I know some bullies could be jealous because of the gift that I have. Others bullies may think that I have this beautiful lifestyle because I play music and make my own money and that I don’t have any problems. Well, they’re wrong, because I still have some of the same basic struggles their families have. Just because I like metal, they think that I’m a punk. Their mentality only stretches as far as hip-hop or rap. Just because we’re African Americans, they feel we should only listen to or play Hip-Hop/Rap or R&B. I don’t listen to the same music all the time. I like to call myself “eclectic.” I like listening to all types of music and it’s so hard for them to accept that. I tell them, “To each their own.

Alec: Knowing that I want to be the very best at what I do and that they can’t stop me from doing what I love.

Rude One: Who are some of your favorite Metal bands? For me, I loved the hard Rock of Aerosmith or Led Zeppelin, but for true heavy Metal, it was Motorhead that liberated me. Is there one band out there (old school or new) that when you first heard them you went, “Yes.” “That’s what we’re shooting for?”

Malcolm: Some of my favorite bands are Born of Osiris, Chelsea Grin, Attila, Motionless in White and I’m starting to listen to Marilyn Manson.

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Jarad: Chelsea Grin, Metallica, Megadeath, Slayer, Living Colour and we actually met Vernon Reid in person.

Alec: Metallica, Living Colour and Chelsea Grin. Yes, Bullet For My Valentine sounds great.

Rude One: Jarad, how’s your book coming along?

Jarad: The book is coming slowly. When I first started, it seemed like I could finish within a week but now that we’re getting a lot of gigs and interviews, I had to put it down for a moment. But I will pick it back up to finish some more chapters. Hopefully by the end of the year, it will be ready for publication.

Rude One: What are some of your other interests besides music and do any of them feed into your music?

Alec: Skating boarding, action figures, DJ’ing and and collecting YuGiOh cards.

Malcolm: I really like skateboarding and I’m going to a skateboard summer camp this month. I couldn’t say that skateboarding feeds into my music. I also like drawing and creative writing and I’m working on a book about bullies too.

Jarad: Skateboarding, bike riding, and reading. The skateboarding feeds into the music because I listen to the music we play and it seems to relax me and I can do tricks on my skateboard. I really picture a whole lot of skateboarders listening to our music riding their boards.

Rude One: Alec, as the newest member, I have to say you have gelled really well. Was it a challenge?

Alec: No, not really. I just had to make sure that I learned all the songs as quickly as possible.

Rude One: Are you folks looking for a singer, and if so what are you looking for in a singer?

Malcolm: I’m not really looking for a singer right now but if I was, he or she, would have to scream and sing like Craig Mabbit.

Jarad: We’re thinking about adding a few members in the future. Possibly a singer, soloist, rhythm guitar player, and pianist/synthesizer.

Alec: No, we are not looking for a singer right now.

Rude One: I loved the fake tour concept. Visualize and make it happen. How does it feel to be embarking on your first real tour and having your CD professionally made?

Malcolm: If I was on tour, I would be at the Rock am Ring and it would be fun because I like performing in front of big crowds. Well, our EP is being professionally made. Hopefully, it will be ready sometime this summer.

Jarad: We can’t wait to go on tour and see all the fans we made playing in Times Square and those who watch us on YouTube and Twitter. We would like to thank them personally for following us all the way to the arenas.

Alec: It feels very exciting.

Rude One: Malcolm: The guitar flip. Many a rock god inherited it from the past. Where did you pick it up?

Malcolm: When I saw James Root from SlipKnot spin his guitar, I thought that was so cool, so I tried it.

Rude One: Gentleman, thank you for your time. I can’t express how happy I am you guys are doing what you do. It gives me great hope.

Alec, Malcolm and Jarad: Thanks for the interview.

The young men on the bus would do well to listen to the warnings of the older brotha. This cultural, civil war that aims to exploit the fears of the people for the benefit of dividing, conquering and profiting is most definitely on. That being said, let’s be careful not to inadvertently pass on the anti-bodies of hate along with knowledge. Hate only begets hate. To the Brothas in ‘Unlocking the Truth,’ I salute you. Welcome to the long tradition of rock ‘n’ roll resistance.

About P.Downes

P.Downes
A Los Angeles-based Bajan, rude boy from Boston, P. Downes (Writer/Film & Independent Music Editor) is a card-carrying music and comic book geek with dreams of making movies. He's a published comic book writer, most notably "Killer Ape and Other City Stories," a collaboration with Greg Moutafis about a black, punk band who comes of age on the night of the LA Riots. Rumor has it that he types his articles in Spider-man Underoos for good luck.
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