From child actor to hardcore icon, indie blog pin-up boy to stadium rocker, Ben Cook has done it all. With Fucked Up going on hiatus, 2012 looks to be an interesting year for the ex-No Warning front-man with numerous side projects and more. With FU having toured with the Foo Fighters and Tenacious D in December last year, we caught up with Mr Cook to discuss his love of Manchester City football, hanging out with the Jonas Brothers and the Australian No Warning reunion tour…
Hey Ben, obviously you weren’t with Fucked Up from its inception. Can you tell us a bit about how you originally got with the band?
I was between bands and travelling in England with my brother. I extended my stay to roadie for Fucked Up because they were on tour there. Even at such an early time in the band they had probably toured the UK like 17 times by then. It was fun and I was a pro, unlike most of the band at the time. They wanted to beef stuff up and knew they were coming into some bigger things with Matador and other label offers on the horizon. I got the call about a month later and accepted.
For those who mightn’t know, please explain your nickname Young Guv.
Young Guv is a reference to the Man City football firm from the 70s, the Young Governors… I don’t know too much about it. But I support Man City because my soccer loving family members are from Manchester, so when I joined Fucked Up, Mike named me that. It stuck and I started using it when I started doing solo records and such.
Fucked Up’s third album “David Came To Life” came out in June. Considering by this stage the band’s sound has evolved significantly, how have older fans reacted to the new material?
I wasn’t in the band when the older fans were around so I don’t really care. They probably don’t like it as much and are still doing their thing which is cool and respect to that, but I am glad I have moved on from what I was doing when I was 20 just like the other members of Fucked Up are glad they aren’t still doing the same thing. Music is meant to grow as you grow if it’s a true reflection of what you are about.
Fucked Up’s "Year Of The Tiger" single is the latest in the Chinese New Year series, which entails a 15 minute song. Can you tell us a bit about this release?
It’s one of the best Fucked Up songs ever and Jim Jarmusch sings on it. It’s an epic masterpiece, basically. Unlike any music I’ve ever heard but true to form for Fucked Up. Really dig that track. The b-side is crap though, but Mike from FU thinks it’s amazing haha.
How’d the Jim Jarmusch cameo get hooked up?
I have no idea but props to whoever keeps nailing down all these celebs! We’ve made a good career out of star fucking, eh? Joking. He’s a fan of the band and our paths just crossed I guess. It’s awesome.
What have been the highlights of the Foo Fighters and Tenacious D tour?
The shows were a bit strange as any opening band might feel on tour with a huge band. The biggest band in rock music unless you count U2 as rock. They were huge crowds and basically it was an awesome paid vacation. Plus the Foos and "the D" are great people, they treated us great. I used the hotel gyms everyday and came back to Toronto "buff" for the holidays as my room mate put it.
You keep very busy with other projects like the Marvelous Darlings, your solo stuff and The Scuzz. Can you tell us a bit about where all these projects are at at the moment?
They just are what they are. Marvelous Darlings was started around the same time I joined Fucked Up and are still going. It was on hiatus for a while when Matt left to live in LA and be a freak, but records still came out cause we had a lot of material back-logged. We are playing again in 2012, should be cool. Young Guv is just a collection of songs I keep writing. I perform them with a big band too, a seven-piece I think it is now. People say it’s like the punk E Street Band which is cool I guess.
It’s a little while ago now, but No Warning is undoubtedly a major part of your life. Word has it you dudes were pretty loose back in the day. What are the craziest memories you have from that era?
Basically every No Warning memory and story is a good one. Pretty crazy. I’d rather not go into details of crazy shit … I’ll leave that for our book! There’s just too many.
What are your plans for when Fucked Up goes on hiatus?
I’m doing an electronic record in my apartment with Matt from No Warning and Marvelous Darlings. It’s called Yacht Club and sounds like Prince meets Wham meets powerpop, and like an 80s soundtrack. It’s amazing. Different to anything I’ve ever done, that’s for sure. Lots of drum machines, synths, but like actual pop songs… not like most electronic music out there now which is just programming and a vibe not really about songwriting.
Between those projects and Fucked Up you probably have about 5000 vinyl releases in total. Are you a big vinyl buff yourself?
Not really, I prefer my iPod. I have lots of cool records though, but they are too expensive and hard to find so I just download. I’m lazy.
Of course as well as music, football (or at least Manchester City) is another passion. Have you always been a fan?
I’ve been a fan since the Sven days, before the money. I’ve always loved English football but didn’t have any affiliation to any particular club and felt silly just picking one like all the Man United or Liverpool fans all over the world have done. I found out I had some family I didn’t know about after my grandad passed away, long story. They are Man City supporters so I found my club through them.
I couldn’t interview you without asking about your illustrious career as a child actor. My personal favourite are the Goosebumps episodes. Is that a time you look back on fondly?
Yes and no. I kind of hated acting because I did some serious badly written bullshit. But then again, I was able to help my mum buy the house she lives in to this day and get lot of experience with hard work and long hours at a really young age. I’m glad I got out of it when I did and followed my musical interests. It’s lead me through some very interesting times. Although if I were still an actor I’d be so fuckin’ rich so hmm…
And how did that appearance in the Jonas Brothers movie come about?
Just randomly got called for an extras gig as a musician. I knew it would pay well. I didn’t know I’d be in a drum battle with a Jonas Brother or the extent of what it all was. It was hilarious and very surreal. Well paid too.
What does 2012 hold for Ben Cook?
A No Warning Aussie reunion? Haha not!