8th grade metal band lands $1.7 million record contract with Sony

on July 12, 2014, 3:10pm

When I was 13, I was just building up the courage to have my first kiss with my first girlfriend. When guitarist Malcolm Brickhouse, bassist Alec Atkins, and drummer Jarad Dawkins were 13, they signed a two-record deal with Sony. (Actually, Dawkins is only 12!)

As the metal band Unlocking the Truth, the trio of Brooklyn 8th graders got their start doing some serious busking around Times Square. Now, Sony has picked up the hardcore teens (and tween) for a guaranteed two-album deal with the option for four more. The deal secures $60,000 up-front for the boys on their first LP, with a possible $350,000 advance on their second. What’s more, if Sony goes all the way with the six-record contract, the band could net upwards of $1.7 million(!!). Because of the members’ ages, the contract had to be approved in the Manhattan Supreme Court, which it was.

Alan Sacks, the band’s manager, told The NY Post that the deal gives a group of young, black musicians a chance to redefine the perception of metal music, a genre typically dominated by white artists. The Post does say, however, that the contract’s a bit tricky. Though the boys will get an exceptional 16%-17% royalties on their sales, that only comes after 250,000 records are sold. For comparison, Beyoncé’s last record sold 600,000.

According to the NY Daily Newsthe group was discovered performing in Washington Square Park back in 2012 by Steve Jordan, drummer for Eric Clapton. That led to gigs playing across the country, including opening for Guns ‘N’ Roses in Vegas, a current spot on the Vans Warped Tour, a gig with Queens of the Stone Age next weekend, and even an opening slot on Coachella’s main stage. “What started out as play dates went to Times Square and now this,” said Dawkins’ mother, Tabatha. “It’s been one great thing after another.” For you concerned mothers out there, don’t worry; Dawkins said the boys are all solid students. “School work comes first. If their school work is not done, they don’t play.”

Dawkins revealed Unlocking the Truth also has a book deal from Penguin and will film a documentary about their rise. Below, watch the band stir up a mosh pit with “Monster” at Coachella’s second weekend this year.


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July 13, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Bs story wouldn’t happen. Another stupid fake story. They also suck. Writing suck performance suck sucks.

July 13, 2014 at 1:46 pm

They’re are in middle school and have already achieved more than you hater….

July 14, 2014 at 10:20 pm

ad hominem

July 15, 2014 at 12:56 am

you piece of faggot shit

July 13, 2014 at 9:20 pm

they played coachella this year….

July 13, 2014 at 12:25 pm

This whole thing is completely racist with exploitive racial intentions. The manager and A&R couldn’t give two fucks about their music. They’re trying to send some racially inspiring message by exploiting a bunch of kids for being black when they were just trying to play music. So what are they hoping for? Kids should give up Kanye, Jayz, drop their Casio keyboards, microphones and pick up guitars? Good work inspiring disenfranchised children to trade one impossible dream for another. I’m sure with the bar being set so high for 8th graders now, kids “inspired” by this are really going to concentrate on school. Good work fucking society and the lives of the kids in this band.

July 13, 2014 at 1:04 pm

Holy shit your life must be sad

July 13, 2014 at 1:05 pm

You must be a lonely person with all that negativity and hate…you sound like a fool calling out your assumptions when you have no idea who these people are…keep that bs to yourself because this is what creates racism and hate, people like you!

July 13, 2014 at 1:36 pm

You guys are dumb as shite

July 14, 2014 at 3:40 pm

No, he’s right. Big wigs exploiting children. It’s all about money here. Now, kids who are in the age group, maybe lower, will see this too and instead of focusing on education and learning, will ditch that effort to entertain. The outcome: we have uneducated kids in the next 10 – 20 years because all they did through their childhood was focus on entertainment. We have enough Hollywood bull$h!t and I believe that is one of the main reasons for the economic decline. Pay worthless @$$holes millions upon millions to portray emotions but our economy pays the people who do the real jobs next to nothing. You can’t make it anywhere in this economy unless you’re at the top.

July 13, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Assumptions? Who those kids are has nothing to do with somebody knowing how the industry works, 95% of people think it’s some dreamworld. The title is false advertising, they’re not getting that much even if they can make past album 4. The real racist is the manager for making a note of and exploiting skin color as something to highlight. He specifically brought race into the statement. I’m just pointing out the obvious. You say I’m a hater and call my read on the situation an assumption but maybe you’re just being naive. I’m far from racist but you seem to cast judgement with ease. There’s an agenda and message being focused on instead of the music. What’s sad is that these kids are going to be used as puppets.

July 14, 2014 at 11:10 am

Unfortunately, you are right and all the little naive hopesters here are the problem with the world.

July 14, 2014 at 3:24 pm

holy crap, i would have killed for a contract at that age! racism? really? you’re the racist cause you’re pissed that children of color are playing metal and not worshiping gangsters and drug-dealers like Kanye and Lil Wayne and don’t get me started on Jay-Z. But keep looking for racism where there is none, i’m sure you have a very happy and fulfilling life.

July 13, 2014 at 3:02 pm

naw, you hit the nail on the head. “giving young black musicians a chance”…. to be locked into a six album contract that is onl worth 1.7m fuck that. they have to split that 3 ways and release 6 albums to see that. who the fuck are these shit for brains commentators kidding?

July 13, 2014 at 4:38 pm

That’s still over 500k doing something they love starting at age 14. They can churn those out in 6 years if they want, have the money and freedom and track record so they can sign with someone else. I’ll take that deal.

July 15, 2014 at 12:18 pm

After paying expenses like travel, lawyers, accountants, managers, publicists and the big one, videos, they’ll have nothing left. This contract is ridiculous and they should never sign for more than one record. By the time they’re 16, they may be going in a totally different direction. The best thing they could have done was to practice more (I think they’re very talented and I like their style a lot) play tons of gigs and then think about contracts a few years from now. I’ll admit that the money people are drooling because they see a group of black kids playing metal and they’re not even in high school yet.. the gimmick aspect is the only reason they got picked up. They should take care of themselves as people and musicians and forget the contracts for the time being.

September 27, 2014 at 9:10 am

am black and i was born a metalhead !! hiphop and rap is bullshit

July 13, 2014 at 12:08 pm

awesome…white guy here checking in…way to breakdown stereo types and not go rap, though there is nothing wrong with that…rock it hard and steady and don’t go thug and you’ll do fine

July 13, 2014 at 1:53 pm

Shut the fuck up

Florida Evans
July 13, 2014 at 6:22 pm

Bad Brains, Death, Living Colour, Tamar-Kali, God Forbid, Pat Smear, etc….If anyone is still clinging to that stereotype at this point, it’s willful ignorance.

July 13, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Metal? Sounds more like early ’80s punk/hardcore to me…not bad :)

July 14, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Name a single band from that era that sounds similar to this.

Rick E.
July 14, 2014 at 8:57 pm

Like I and a previous commenter mentioned on here their influences appear to include bands like Bad Brains, Death and Living Colour(just to name a few).

July 15, 2014 at 6:41 pm

you, sir, are deaf.

July 13, 2014 at 11:57 am

They COULD get $1.7 million. The title is bullshit and implies that the 1.7 million is guaranteed. What is this, Buzzfeed?

July 13, 2014 at 11:53 am

They COULD get a $1.7 million. This article’s title is bullshit

July 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

Damn hippies!!

July 15, 2014 at 3:35 am

you must eat fag poop dropplings.. braindead retard

July 13, 2014 at 11:12 am

A two album deal with four options is terrible. A band should want as little records on their deal as possible with perferably little to no optional records. They will have no chance to get a better deal until they violate and void their contract or put out all six of those albums or sony drops the contract or another label buys them out of their contract. They’re getting screwed but at least by the time the contract is up they’ll still be young.

July 14, 2014 at 4:58 pm

Exactly. The title is misleading because the author knows as little about the industry as the band of kids do. I’m not saying it’s a bad deal but it’s nowhere near what the band or fans think it is. The money is tied to both performance and options. They’d be far better off with a $400k deal on signing and 1-no option(s). It’s exciting no doubt but numbers without context are very misleading.

July 14, 2014 at 5:07 pm

Also I guarantee their pub is either tied in on 360 or sony/ATV has a first right and it won’t be a favorable deal. Again…happy for them but numbers need context.

I will give an artist here a record deal for $3M, $1 on ex, balance on my collection of $5M…exclusive 360 rights.

July 13, 2014 at 10:59 am

Nothing like the smell of exploitation and bad business decisions to start of the day.

July 13, 2014 at 10:31 am

Did anyone else notice there’s a dinosaur in that most pit!? Where the hell do I get one of those things?

July 14, 2014 at 8:07 pm

thats not a mosh pit…It’s a bunch of fairies runnin in circles whilst giggling and smiling.

July 13, 2014 at 9:50 am

Terrific band. RE: the video: that is not a mosh pit, nor a circle pit. That is a bunch of California douchebags running, sometimes skipping, in a circle. I would love to get in there, go in the opposite direction. start clocking these idiots in their shoulders and guts with my shoulder and forearm. If they fell I would pick them up. Even though they suck and they know nothing of metal, punk, or mosh pits.

July 13, 2014 at 10:24 am

you are so cool.

July 13, 2014 at 11:31 am

My head just exploded with how cool this guy is

July 13, 2014 at 1:23 pm

Did he just say he wants to hit total strangers in the gut for expressing their joy of music by moving in a circle? What is wrong with your brain, human?

July 13, 2014 at 11:00 am

Haha, Coachella and mosh pit.

Kevin Estrada
July 13, 2014 at 11:40 am

Well, this is Coachella.. Not a place where you will find a real mosh pit!! At least the kids are having fun.. Obviously you are not a real slam dancer if “You would love to get in there, go in the opposite direction. start clocking these idiots in their shoulders and guts with your shoulder and forearm” You sound like a youngster new at this and I hope you are because these are kids running around. If you aim to intentionally hurt, your a douchebag! I hate “Come at me bro’s” in the pit, you guys don’t last and will eventually tastes me Boots.

July 14, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Honestly he’s right that was no mosh pit, that was a bunch of stoned kids running in a circle. and as for a “younger” generation mosher that’s wrong. i’m an old timer from the 80’s lol, and thats exactlly how most of the mosh pits were fists and boots and clotheslines galore! and he said something very valid “help everyone up when they fall down” that’s the brotherhood of the pit!

July 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

This could potentially be terrible. These kids are amazing musicians, but signing a major record deal right now for anyone is a bad step. Unless they hit it big, and I mean bigger than most if not all metal bands nowadays (not my forte), they’re gonna be in debt up to their eyeballs before they can drink legally. This young, with school still to worry about it, they’re not going to be able to tour to make the money back to the label. DIY is the way to go. Sure, you pay your own expenses, but you don’t owe money to anyone and all the money you make goes into your own pocket.

Jeffrey Eckel
July 13, 2014 at 10:36 am

that is the most un-metal thing i’ve ever read.

July 13, 2014 at 11:35 am

All that money. Right…..

July 13, 2014 at 9:16 am

Its not a deal you usually see a musician get, but keep in mind these are extremely young kids who haven’t proven they can sell records yet. At worse Sony loses a little bit of money selling a novelty act but builds good press, best case scenario thses kids sell well and become Metal gods by the time they’re 18 and get a full fledged contract next time around.

July 13, 2014 at 8:31 am

Matt Damon

July 13, 2014 at 9:05 am

Maaaaaaaaat Daaaaaaamon

care taker
July 13, 2014 at 8:02 am

“gives a group of young, black musicians”

Why did you have to shit on the article? What does it matter if the record deal making 8th graders are black? Are you trying to insinuate that this is an odd chance of some black kids succeeding in life early on?

This was just bad.

July 13, 2014 at 8:08 am

“a genre typically dominated by white artists.”. Thats why.

July 13, 2014 at 8:19 am

like he didnt even bother reading the article after that phrase.

July 13, 2014 at 11:09 am

Look at the band God Forbid. They went broke. 80% black.

July 13, 2014 at 11:16 am

to be honest that’s still retarded. dominated by white artists.. why the fuck would that remotely matter anyways. so fucking stupid, as if their skin color had anything to do with their chance to succeed. i feel bad for the person who wrote this

Kevin Estrada
July 13, 2014 at 11:48 am

a genre typically dominated by white artists? Do your homework! Some of the most successful Metal bands, new & old are of people of color!! Try going to a show in L.A. It is stupid to thrown in “black musicians” They are musicians. Who cares of what color they are! Sony doesn’t discriminate…. they will Rape and take advantage any race!!

July 13, 2014 at 3:22 am

$1.7 million for 6 albums? Call DCFS, children are getting raped.

July 13, 2014 at 1:52 am

Is it my imagination, or does the guitarist look exactly like a real-life Huey from The Boondocks?

July 13, 2014 at 6:46 pm

Do any commenters here, that are ‘heavy metal savvy’ remember a late 90’s all female metal band called – Kittie ??? They were all as young as these new young black american metalers on the scene, they had a record deal, label, film clips, gathered a large fan base by the time they were all legal enough to stay out just after the street lights came on, & this was all before there was any such thing as social media ie; utube, facebook..let alone GOOGLE!! The whole novelty back then was the fact they were young, ALL FEMALE, and yes..u guessed it..they could play heavy metal!!! Where are they now u ask..? Still together, doing gigs, broke as fuck, with little recognition, yet they paved the way for other young inspired female metalers to step up into the metal camp of Metal Gods. Do you think anyone gives a hoot about Kittie anymore??? Nope. Is being a female artist in the metal scene a novelty anymore? Nope. Its just tits & pussy grinding it up on stage for all metal lovers to perve & occasionally comment on how ‘talented those chicks’ are… :-/

Yet here we are, 20 years down the road, taking awe at a bunch of black african american kids doing the same thing as Kittie did (for young girls), paving a path for other kids their age & race (yeah..forget gender here..) to set the bar & standard within the Metal genre.

Theres no doubt these kids have talent. Whats disturbing is how quickly novelty bands such as Kittie & young metal bands alike get tossed aside over time.

I wish them all the fame that their talent can buy. :-)

July 13, 2014 at 12:21 am

More pavement ape loving from Sony.

July 13, 2014 at 1:29 am

the hell does that mean

Bast Hotep
July 13, 2014 at 2:34 am

It’s just racist crap.

July 13, 2014 at 11:18 am

I saw no racism in his comment to you said something you are the racist and need to rethink the way you look at things

Horror Fiend in Denmark
July 14, 2014 at 11:50 am

It’s completely racist.

Google is your friend.

care taker
July 13, 2014 at 8:03 am

You are the ape actually.

There. FTFY.

No go back to your little rotten hell and weep that you are never going to be as successful in life as those kids.

remember the band Tuff.
July 12, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Happy for them but teen metal bands don’t last long. Remember the band Tuff? I wont buy their record cause i don’t feel cool listening to kids in my car.

July 13, 2014 at 7:46 am

Yeah except these guys are actually sick. If there this good already they’re gonna get insane by the time they finish puberty lol

July 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm

Haaaaa, Frickin cooooool!!!!!!

July 12, 2014 at 9:49 pm

There was a band called Deathkids and they were younger and muchhhh better

July 13, 2014 at 1:29 am

yeah but who gives a f___ about them

July 12, 2014 at 9:48 pm

What a racist band manager.

July 12, 2014 at 9:47 pm

What a racist manager.

July 12, 2014 at 8:51 pm

Uh they suck ass

July 12, 2014 at 8:06 pm

Seriously a shitty record deal. Someone didn’t read between the lines

Sean Murphy
July 12, 2014 at 7:54 pm

If this is what they can do at their age, they have the potential to be so badass about ten to fifteen years from now – whether still together or in their own different bands.

July 12, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Not a mosh pit. Just a bunch of hippies kinda dancing in a large circle.

July 12, 2014 at 6:41 pm

What kind of pussy mosh pit is that!

July 13, 2014 at 1:30 am

all moshpits are pussy get real dude

July 13, 2014 at 1:36 am

Somebody’s never seen converge.

July 13, 2014 at 1:38 am

would rather be dead than be caught at a converge show with a bunch of angry spoiled suburbabrats

July 13, 2014 at 9:43 am


July 14, 2014 at 4:51 pm

i’m fairly sure not everyone at a converge show is angry… you just generalized, which is what a lot of people are doing to this band (unlocking the truth), but i can see the performance and hear the music… they are unique and having fun… what’s not to like? people need to really relax. i don’t think they need a singer either… i like the no vocals.

July 12, 2014 at 5:38 pm

Good news, shit deal…. typical sony

July 12, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Typical commercial record label.

Scott Koenig
July 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm

So happy for them, really cool band but 16-17% royalties is definitely not exceptional, it’s actually below the industry standard of at least 20%, maybe it’s exceptional for a major label but I get my band’s 27% to 30% royalties per record sold.
Hopefully they will sell a lot of music and they can renegotiate!

Not right
July 12, 2014 at 7:11 pm

No the average percentage of royalties in music is ten percent. I’m a professional musician. There deal is a pretty standard deal in the music business

Nicholas Bell
July 12, 2014 at 10:00 pm

Scott is a legend bro… maybe he just gets his bands better deals… you should look into who he respresents and i think you would find theyre probably a bit higher in the industry than you, with all due respect..


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