On their debut album 5 Years Behind, THICK confronts the countless disappointments and injustices they deal with every day: the reckless hypocrisy of people in power, social media’s erosion of genuine connection, dudes who feel inexplicably entitled to share their most loathsome opinions. But even in their most exasperated moments, the Brooklyn-based punk trio sustains ferocious energy and untamed joy, ultimately turning every song into a wildly cathartic anthem.
“A lot of these songs came from feeling stifled in silence, but then the song itself is an answer to that,” says Black. “It’s us saying, ‘I have my opinion, and I’m going to share it no matter what.’ Instead of keeping things all bottled up, it feels so much better to face everything head-on, and just be really loud about it with your two best friends.”
The follow-up to their 2019 self-titled effort—THICK’s third EP and first release for Epitaph Records—5 Years Behind came to life at Studio G Brooklyn with producer/engineer Joel Hamilton (Iggy Pop, Jolie Holland). In a departure from their previous work, the band took a more spontaneous approach to the album-making process, sometimes completely reworking songs at the eleventh hour in order to channel the most immediate emotion into each track. “It was really important to us that the songs feel emotionally connected to our reality, so that it feels as natural as possible to play them,” notes Black.
As a result of fearlessly following their instincts, THICK manage the impossible feat of coming off confident and carefree even as they expose their deepest insecurities. On the album’s dynamic yet delicate title track, for instance, the band shifts from furious intensity to harmony-soaked melancholy as they reflect on certain overwhelming societal pressures. “It’s about how we always feel five years behind in life, at least as far as the expectations of the world around us,” says Sisti. “It’s something we’re constantly battling, but at the same time we know that there’s no real timeline—there’s no time limit for doing what we want to do.”
THICK’s most politically charged work to date, 5 Years Behind offers up tracks like “Mansplain”—a blistering, brilliantly sarcastic takedown bookended by a sound collage of massively infuriating comments from men (e.g., “Girl bands are really in right now,” “Here, let me help you carry your amp,” “Are those your boyfriend’s drums?”). “Those are all things that men have actually said to us or our friends at shows,” Page points out. On “Fake News,” the band lets loose a 49-second blast of pure punk vitriol, spiked with scathing social commentary. And on “Bumming Me Out,” 5 Years Behind delivers a bouncy but bittersweet epic that perfectly captures the pain of feeling powerless in the face of endless horrors happening in the world (sample lyric: “Never knew I’d be so tired/Fighting for what I believe”).
Closing out with the unrestrained fun of “Party With Me”—as in “Just take your clothes off and party with me/In the backyard of New York City”—5 Years Behind also finds THICK looking back on their early days and on the increasingly endangered all-ages scene that birthed the band. To that end, the tenderly detailed “WHUB” unfolds as a heavy-hearted tribute to “all the DIY venues that are shut down now,” as Page puts it. All originally from New York State, THICK’s three members forged their friendship in those venues, with Sisti and Page forming the band in 2014 and Black joining the lineup two years later. Along with playing live as often as they could—and purposely focusing on DIY/all-ages spaces all around New York—THICK made their debut with the 2016 EP It’s Always Somethingâ€‹…, put out their sophomore EP Would You Rather? in 2018, then signed with Epitaph later that year. “For a long time we didn’t have management or a booking agent or anything—we just worked our butts off and stayed true to ourselves, and it got us to where we are now,” says Sisti.
Over the years, THICK has earned recognition as an unstoppable live act, with their show typically spawning a mosh pit described by Stereogum as “more like an aggressive hug.” As they dreamed up the tightly crafted yet uncontainable sound of 5 Years Behind, the band kept the live experience at the forefront of their minds. “When we write, we write toward the emotions of the audience,” says Sisti. “I know that lyrics play a huge role in connection, but I’m personally more focused on visualizing how people might physically respond to a song—what it would make them feel in the moment and how it might make them move or dance.”
Now gearing up for a national tour in support of 5 Years Behind, THICK aspire to strengthen the palpable sense of inclusivity that’s defined their shows from the start. “We want people to feel safe in the mosh pit, and hopefully connect with each other,” says Page. “We’ve made so many friends at the shows we’ve played, and we’d love it if people could build some kind of community from coming to see us.” And in the making of their first full-length effort, THICK aimed to instill an undeniable feeling of solidarity into each of the album’s tracks. “In a way, the theme of all our songs is: ‘We’ll get through this. We’re not going to be kept down,” says Black. “I hope when people listen to the album, it gives them that same feeling. And I hope they feel like, if they ever needed it, we’d absolutely have their back.”