The Sicks: Pure Pittsburgh punk!

Written by Scott Mervis on .


sicksThe debut single from The Sicks — “Pretty Plastic”/“Dose” — is one of the year’s most authentic-sounding punk rock releases, but that shouldn’t come as a surprise given the pedigree.

The members of the Pittsburgh quintet have roots that go back decades, including stints in such heavy-hitters as The Bats, Crow Flies, Aus Rotten, Caustic Christ, Direct Action and Kim Phuc.

The band, which formed two years ago, couldn’t have happened without Kim Phuc splitting, freeing up, for one, roaring frontman Rob Henry.

As veteran punk guitarist Sam Matthews explains, “Rob and I were hanging out a lot together, listening to records and stuff, and at some point realized we’ve known each for years and we’ve never played music together. So, we thought, oh, we should start a band and we’ll just — purity of punk — play all the instruments. Rob doesn’t even play instruments, but I figured I’ll just throw instruments in his hand and we’ll create something.’ That led to us, saying, ‘Oh, we’ll start a band.’ ”

They assembled some of the guys who hang out and talk/argue music at Mind Cure Records on Saturday nights. Joining them in this punk-rock supergroup are guitarist Eric Good and Corey Lyons (both of Caustic Christ and Aus Rotten; Corey also played in Kim Phuc) and drummer Mark Miller (Crow Flies), who has since been replaced by Nick von Krusenstjerna.

“The concept Eric and I had about this is we wanted to be a band that has verses, choruses, middle parts and guitar solos, because it seems like a lot of stuff we’re hearing is people pretty much doing the Nirvana thing: you know, play quiet, play loud, same riff over and over,” Matthews says. “We wanted to go back to what punk was about, to us: sing-along choruses, good riffs, that kind of stuff.”

The guitarist says The Sicks don’t neatly fit into a punk category, and that might be true, but the shorthand here is that “Pretty Plastic” is pure blast of Pistols and “Dose” has the darker shadow of Joy Division.

“We called that ‘Joy Division’ at first until Rob came up with words for it,” Matthews says. “The way we describe ourselves, which started as a joke, but I think it’s really true: proto-punk/punk-rock/post-punk rock, because we’re really just a rock band in a way.”

The Sicks have become the go-to punk band to open for the likes of Negative Approach, Subhumans and Mike Watt, and now the single comes out on Austin-based Fair Warning Records, with a release show Saturday at Gooski’s.

Prepare for the Sicks to be a quick adrenalin jolt. They rage for 20 minutes and Matthews gauges the intensity by “the pile of dead microphones on the floor in the front of the stage.”

The Sicks play Gooski’s, 3117 Brereton St., Polish Hill, at 10 p.m. Saturday with Gotobeds and Blood Pressure. 412-681-1658.


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