Ben Cook is an absurdly busy musician. Outside of his solo band Young Guv and producing work for bands like Actual Water and Modern Superstitions, singer/guitarist/songwriter has been involved in a bewildering array of musical projects over the years. When does this guy sleep?
1. Fucked Up
Ben Cook was a late recruit to Fucked Up, joining in time to record the band's Polaris Prize-winning sophomore LP The Chemistry Of Common Life (and their myth-making performance/demolition on MTV in the bathroom of the Masonic Temple), but his third guitar directly contributes to the dense, epic sound that has since defined them. According to Cook, Fucked Up is currently in the development stage of a new record.
2. No Warning
Before he was a guitarist in Fucked Up, Ben Cook was the frontman of his own punk band, No Warning. The band's sophomore album, Ill Blood, just turned 10 years old and is now remembered as a classic of Toronto hardcore. Damian Abraham also recently picked their self-titled record at number two for his NOW list of Top 10 Toronto punk seven-inches ever. But the band's strangest endorsement came from Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst, who attempted to sign No Warning with a message on Cook's answering machine that used the words "hard" and "phat" verrrry liberally.
3. Yacht Club
Those who know him primarily from those two seminal hardcore bands will probably be surprised by this latest ‘80s pop project with his former No Warning writing partner Matt DeLong, but Ben Cook has always had one foot in the pop world. Cook has formerly ghost-written songs for Sum 41 and Hedley, and says he's recently been approached by a label to pen a track for a contestant on "one of those So You Think You Can Sing shows." Yacht Club's early web-released songs are inspired heavily by ‘80s stars like George Michael and Prefab Sprout, but he says future releases will explore the whole spectrum of pop "from Top 40 to weirdo Canadian pop from the ‘90s MuchMusic heyday."
4. The Bitters
Like many of Ben Cook's bands, this collaboration with Aerin Fogel seems to have been a one-off, but their Wooden Glove EP and East General LP are strong enough put the Bitters on this list. The band mixed dark post-punk with ‘90s alternative, ‘50s melodies and a male-female punk vocal style that elicited constant comparisons to X. We haven't heard much from them in the couple of years since, but they did play a few local shows, including opening night at Parts & Labour.
5. Marvelous Darlings
Cook's projects jump all over the stylistic map, but if there's one genre he seems to like best it's power-pop. Aside from Young Guv, Marvelous Darlings is the best showcase of his Brit-inflected ‘70s-style Undertones/Cheap Trick heavy hook-craft. Listening to the band's recently rereleased 2008-2010 singles collection Single Life reveals what you may have already gleaned from this list: Ben Cook can pump out memorable, catchy songs like they're nothing.