Fucked Up - Ben Cook Featured Interview
By Tyler Hodkinson HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED WITH FUCKED UP? I've known everyone in FUCKED UP before their band existed, even before NO WARNING. Mike from FU used to book shows at a gross free DIY space and record store in Kensington Market called Who's Emma. He booked my first band there when I was like 16. We would all attend shows there, and play them and hang out and be really positive and psyched about 'the scene' and stuff. Eventually I started NO WARNING, and they were all supporters of the band.. well not really Sandy or Jonah or Josh because they were into bad punk, nerdy hardcore or tech metal and not down with the asshole faux tough guy facade of NW. Likewise, when FU started I was a big supporter and I always thought of myself as one of the first people to actually be down with their music because like most places and people Toronto are really slow to catch on to something good and have to wait until a million people say something is cool before they actually realize it is. I remember seeing FU in Toronto and being the only one "moshing" for them, and being really angry at the city. I never really liked Toronto. But then again, I never really liked anywhere's music fans. It's all kind of a bit meaningless. I'm sure I sound like a total prick, but whatever! Anyways, NW ended whenever that was, like 5 years ago or something, and I was traveling in the UK with my brother and F.U happened to be playing gigs there at the same time. I extended my stay to roadie for them, and I guess they liked traveling with me because I remember getting an email from Mike when I got back (I was working at a tea company making teas at the time) and he asked me to join fulltime on 3rd guitar. Also, FU kind of donâ€™t get along that well sometimes so I was brought in as sort of a buffer between Damian and the rest of the band so the band can continue and not break up because we're signed to Matador and are huge and make millions of dollars and shit. Me and Dame are boys, but in Europe I was stealing too much and he had a nervous breakdown and screamed at me, then checked into a mental hospital. That sucked. I've stopped stealing, but I still get urges. WHAT IS IT LIKE WRITING WITH 10,000 MARBLES/ FUCKED UP? It's kind of annoying. Mike is a super weird guy, and does things like "hey we have 10 days at home, lets write 10 songs and record them and release them as a singles CD, but they arenâ€™t singles so it'll be a 'fake singles' CD, meet at the space at 5pm and we'll do it".. So me and Jonah show up and we write half a song, he gets bored and says move on to another, we write half of another song, we all get bored and then leave and go to Josh's dads B-day party and smoke weed with him while he puts on Keep on Rockinâ€™ in the Free World by Neil Youngâ€¦ and the songs never get finished. Mike writes bits and pieces of songs on tour and during sound checks and remembers it all, and then eventually it all comes together in the studio somehow. Jonah writes full songs, and is constantly creative. He's like a faucet that doesn't turn off. So is Sandy, but in a very different way. I've written songs with a lot of people, but FU have the weirdest way of writing. I honestly have no fuckinâ€™ clue what is going on half the time when songs are being written. I sort of just tune out, and think about something else like I did in school. HOW DOES WRITING/ BRING IN FUCKED UP DIFFER FROM WRITING/BEING IN NO WARNING/MARVELOUS DARLINGS? Writing is very different like I said. NO WARNING we'd write everything at practice with Jordan bringing in most of the riffs, and me arranging it all and telling the other members what to play and where to put fills and what kind of fills to do. In NO WARNING I was trying to make things as brutal and interesting as possible within that really clichÃ© and boring genre where all the bands sound the same. I like writing drum fills, and arranging songs. Jordan is a great song writer and I think we all taught each other a lot. I think we did a good job with that stuff. I still look back and like the stuff we did. As far as being in both bands... itâ€™s like night and day. FUCKED UP like to go on their computers, and go to Whole Foods and just kind of chill out, no partyingâ€¦ ever... but they also like to travel and some members like to do interesting stuff and see interesting things... The band is made up of very smart, highly intellectual people that feel they are above music and being in a band (because itâ€™s kind of true). I can get down with their vibe, because I'm an easy going laid back gangster. NO WARNING was a big party band, lots of drugs, lots of girls around, lots of crazy stupid teenager shit and being assholes to people, it was fun while it lasted. There were some dark times in NW and it had its problems, but itâ€™s the same with FUCKED UP. Every band has beef and internal bullshit, and everyone is a fuckin' whiner. Including me! WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR YOUNG GOVERNOR? At this point YOUNG G is just a recording project and one of the many outlets for me to release records, and play everything on them. I just dropped the first 7" and following that up with another, and then a 12" EP on Parts Unknown. Basically YOUNG GOVERNOR started when I had a 2 hour coked up geek chat with JAY REATARD about recording techniques because I like the way his LP sounds. I went home and wrote 10 songs, and recorded them. They kind of all sound a bit like Jay which is kind of annoying, but I guess it makes sense they would as per our detailed studio talkâ€¦ but they're great songs. Proud of them. I also release records with MARVELOUS DARLINGS, and a new thing with my friend Aerin called THE BITTERS. I have big plans for that band. It's like slow, brooding, dark punk or post punk or whateverâ€¦ A bit like X, but not really. Also, thereâ€™s straight major key garage pop songs goin' on too... but those will just be B sides. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM ALL OF YOUR BANDS IN 2009? FUCKED UP are releasing a singles Comp and I think we are doing DAVIDS BABY 7" when Damian has his kid. That will be awesome. We're playing lots of festivals and making shitloads of money and riding the wave of press hype we've manipulated for ourselves until it dies down and no one gives a shit anymore. Then we'll do the next LP. GOVERNOR will release more singles, and so will THE BITTERS. Lots of records. MARVELOUS DARLINGS will have more singles out, and also an amazing LP which will be done by the spring and released in the summer. We just recorded all the music for it and it only took like one day because we're pro's. It'll be one of the best pop, punk, rock n roll records to ever come out of Toronto. WHAT WAS YOUR REACTION TO BEING NOMINATED FOR A JUNO? The day before we got the news, I bet Damian an IN-N-OUT burger (best fast food in America) that we would get the nomination. He didn't think it was going to happen. I've predicted everything thatâ€™s happened to F.U since the release of the "Police" 7". And I'm still getting it right! We just all laughed about it, and Damian never bought me that burger. HOW WAS THE 12 HOUR FUCKING UP AND WHAT/WHO WERE THE MOST MEMORABLE MOMENTS/PEOPLE? I don't think I'd ever want to do something like that again because it was exhausting, but itâ€™s awesome to say I was a part of a "12 hour show". Not many people can say that. I can't believe it went down so well. Matador really came through in organizing that party. We're very grateful. The most memorable moment for me was when it was over and it was 5am and me, Jonah and Josh were all curled up on a bed in an apartment watching Step Brothers. We were so delirious and tired; I think it was the hardest I've ever laughed at a movie in my life. Not saying itâ€™s the funniest, but in that context with our insane tired brains... Funny. Moby appearing out of nothingness and playing RAMONES songs with us was kind of cool, even though I hate his music. Meeting Micheal Stipe was interesting. I heard Lindsay Lohan came, but didnâ€™t come inside because it was too packed. I played 2nd guitar for the VIVIAN GIRLS at that show too. It sounded so awful, but they liked it. Cassie is a bit of a hottie. WHAT CAN WE EXPECTED FROM THE DAVID COMES TO LIFE MUSICAL? I truly have no fuckin' clue. You can expect another FUCKED UP venture that's never been accomplished by anyone in punk or hardcore history. It'll probably be great, and successful but also kind of boring and too long and have some female singers involved somewhere. IS A NO WARNING REUNION EVER A POSSIBILITY? Nope! WHATâ€™S YOUR MOST MEMORABLE (BEST OR WORST) TOUR EXPERIENCE? I don't know how to classify any experience as 'the best' because I don't know how to think like that. I also have a terrible memory. I've had so many great times, and have met a lot of hilarious people all over the world. My best experience is just being able to travel and tour and do all the things that come along with it in general. I've been doing it for almost 10 years now, so itâ€™s hard to pick just one thing. The worst tour experience of my life was when a member of one of my past bands tried to hang himself. We were all very young, and troubled. It was a dark time. WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE SHOW YOUâ€™VE PLAYED? I'm going to go with FUCKED UP last year on the Bridge in Austin at SXSW. There were like 2000 people going mental and falling into us and we didn't finish one song because the drums kept getting crushed by the crowd. I had just come from the clipse gig, and I was high as fuck from some gangster dude smoking me 2 blunts. I showed up 5 minutes before our set, and it was the craziest thing I have ever seen, heard, and experienced in live music. 2000 intoxicated people going buck wild on a bridge at 3am to terrible sounding half assed punk played by 6 nutcases who are truly lucky as hell to be doing what they are doing, but won't realize it until the band is long over. WHAT IS THE BEST BAND YOUâ€™VE SEEN? The CRO-MAGS at CBGB's, OASIS on Definitely Maybe tour at Lee's Palace, Clipse @ SWSW, KISS @ The Skydome when I was 12. a FAVOURITE CANADIAN BAND AT THE MOMENT? The Bitters, and The Darlings. I think my own bands are the best. I wouldn't play in them if I didn't. Haha. WHATâ€™S YOUR FAVOURITE PLACE TO EAT ON THE ROAD? I like eating healthy on the road. I hate fast food. F.U are fat assholes and love it, and always eat fast food... especially that fat piece of shit, Jonah.. . I like going to Whole Foods and stealing (don't tell Damian) and buying stuff from their hot bar. Do I sound like a total hippie? I love BBQ in Texas, Reubens in NY, meat loaf in Georgia, burritos in San Diego, sausages in Germany, and curries in England. I also love coming home and spending lots of money taking my friends and girl out to dinner to nice joints and generally being a PIMP. HAS ANYONE EVER GOTTEN YOU CONFUSED WITH THE OTHER BEN COOK, CURRENT GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS HOLDER FOR HAVING SENT THE WORLDâ€™S FASTEST TEXT MESSAGE? Never, but I can text really fast. WHATâ€™S YOUR FAVOURITE STOOGES SONG? Loose, and I Wanna Be Your Dog. WHICH CITY MOSHES HARDEST? I dunno. Probably some hard as fuck ghetto in Brazil. WHO WERE THE MOST INFLUENTIAL MUSICIANS AND BANDS FOR YOU? I guess typically it was NIRVANA. I was a little wanna-be gangster B boy kid when I was like 11, and I listened to Vanilla Ice and Snoop Dog and shit and my friend Alan lent me his guitar and gave me a Nirvana tape. It changed my life, I secretly learned guitar and never told the gang I rolled with because they were all bad boy gangster kids who are mostly in jail now. In grade 8 when they all went on to high school (I was a year younger than most of my friends) I was free to grow out my hair and become a full blown ROCKER. I was also getting into OASIS & Brit Pop, and punk records. THE RAMONES, SCREECHING WEASELâ€¦ Those were big for me. I'm big on POP music. Like borderline corny stuff too. I never got into SONIC YOUTH, or any 'indie' music or anything. I hated it. I seriously like Michelle Branch songs more than Sonic Youth. But GOO is a great record. YOUTH OF TODAY and the CRO-MAGS had a big effect on me in High School and got me into hardcore and straight edge bands and all that stuff. I didn't like a lot of hardcore bands that everyone else liked... But those 2 were very meaningful to me, and still are. I still love all the bands that changed my mentality and I guess "saved" me from being some non-musical normal person.