Think of the contemporary guitar music that's meant something to you in the last 18-odd years. Ben Cook has probably had something to do with making it or influencing it. Think of No Warning, which he's fronted since he was in high school in the '90s, who pioneered a self-aware, intertextual, and technically adept style of New York hardcore that has became a subgenre unto itself, dominating scenes all over the world for close two decades and counting. Think of Fucked Up, for which he's played guitar since 2006, the aesthetically omnivorous, thematically ambitious punk-rock-deconstructing band-like entity that, unlike the bulk of their contemporaries in the late-2000s festival-circuit indie-rock boom, no one is ashamed of having associated themselves with. Think also of his behind-the-scenes presence, the co-writing and production work he's done for a host of artists at all levels of renown.
Ben Cook doesn't like talking about his music but he understands it. "To me Young Guv songs are like people-watching in a foreign country in the morning," he says, ever the master of the vivid metaphor. "I'm there and I'm trying not to cry from the overwhelming feeling of sadness and happiness."
As it happened, when the new songs started coming in May 2018, Ben was in a foreign country, albeit one - the U.S.A. - where he knew his way around, and could speak the language, observe local custom, and blend in, effectively disappearing, into the streetscape, into thoughts and longings, and, inevitably, back into his Brooklyn apartment, in the confines of which he wrote a song every single day.
People-watching in a foreign country. Another way of putting that would be to say that Young Guv songs are about being alone. As the years have passed, as material and social conditions have conspired to make everyone feel increasingly alone, Ben has built a Guv discography out of invoking the desolation that arises when you're isolated in physical and mental space but surrounded nonetheless by millions of other isolated, solitary people, literally any one of whom you could, for all you know, love with all your heart for the rest of your life, but almost none of whom, you're forced to admit, will become anything more than a briefly transfixing stranger, at best a wraith that recurrently haunts your dreams.
The city told him, in its aloof way, that a great record was waiting to be written and, most important, to be offered like a bouquet of flowers to the people of the world, in a humble act of love and communion. Ben's been a true songwriter long enough to have recognized, and heeded, the coded command when it came. He's since moved back to NYC and plans to stay awhile.
- She's A Fantasy
- Try Not To Hang On So Hard
- Caught Lookin'
- Trying To Decide
- Forgot To Feel
- Can I Luv U In My Own Way
- Song About Feeling Insane
- Can I Just Call U
- Can't Say Goodbye