The Sicks is a band made up of a bunch of guys who have been in bands in Pittsburgh for decades — just never all together.
"I always joke, the Pittsburgh thing is, we all just reconfigure into different bands," guitarist Sam Matthews says. "But this doesn't sound like Caustic Christ, it doesn't sound like Kim Phuc — it's different."
That's just a fraction of the band's pedigree: Matthews is The Sicks' elder statesman, having been around for the first wave of punk, and played in The Bats and The Crow Flies. The young guns, if you can call them that, who join him are Corey Lyons and Eric Good (who played together in Aus-Rotten in the '90s, and then Caustic Christ) and Rob Henry (vocalist for Kim Phuc, in which Lyons also played). The band's original drummer, Mark Miller, once played in The Bats; currently, the band's drummer is relative newcomer Nick von Krusentjerna.
But The Sicks are far from a rehash of the past. There's a vintage feel to the band's minimalist punk rock, but it doesn't pull too much from any of the musicians' past projects. While Henry's vocals hearken to his Kim Phuc work, the riffs and rhythms are different from what that band brought. And there's more of a post-punk feel than the hardcore punk of Caustic Christ.
Originally, Matthews and Henry wanted to play together post-Kim Phuc. Then, through time spent hanging out at Mind Cure Records, in Polish Hill, listening to music, Matthews found he bonded with Good as well. "He and I were always on the same page. ... One of our theories is, what's missing in punk music these days is verse, chorus, middle — actual songwriting. Guitar solos, all that stuff. A lot of the stuff we're hearing [recently is] just one riff [that] changes dynamically."
After releasing a demo on tape and online earlier this year, The Sicks cut a 7-inch with Dave Rosenstraus at his Braddock studio, for release via the Austin-based Fair Warning Records. This weekend, the band releases the 7-inch with a show that also features The Gotobeds and Blood Pressure.
It's a tough thing to pin down a hybrid sound like The Sicks', but Matthews jokingly says, "I like to say we're ‘proto-punk-punk-rock-post-punk.'"