No Warning's Ben Cook Discusses Their Long-Awaited Return and the Meaning of 'Torture Culture'
Published Oct 12, 2017Ben Cook has rightfully earned a reputation as one of Toronto's busiest musicians, playing guitar in Fucked Up and simultaneously donning a number of other musical hats, like Young Guv. Now at long last, he has returned with his first foray into music, the legendary hardcore act No Warning, for their first LP in 13 years. Torture Culture follows two singles released over the past four years that hinted at the band's return, not only to the world of music but to the sound of their 2002 magnum opus Ill Blood, which ushered in the new guard of NYHC-inspired bands that populate the scene today.
The major label influence and pressure that factored into the band's dissolution following 2004's Suffer Survive no longer holds any bearing on the now-experienced unit. "I've definitely been enjoying myself," Cook tells Exclaim! "We were lucky enough to be able to collaborate with our friends making this, and nothing ever felt forced. There's no label breathing down our necks or anything, we're just left to do whatever we want."
With the freedom to take the project in any direction they pleased, the members of No Warning wrote the record exclusively following intuition, making the process a creative free-for-all.
"We wanted to make a sort of greasy, street metal record that sounded sketchy and referenced all of the best parts of '80s hardcore and thrash. We kind of went into it thinking about it being a mosaic of heavy music from our entire lives, kind of rooted in the No Warning sound, like there's a hard rock Alice in Chains-style ballad on the record for instance."
Reflecting on the earliest days of the band, Cook mentions that the experience they have collectively gained only makes them more appreciative of the opportunity to make this sort of music once more.
"I think I feel luckier now; back then we were just rabid, young little pricks, you know? Teenage boys. Sometimes that's the most dangerous thing you can be, just little, white, middle-class suburban boys with no fucking father figures or anyone to tell them no. That's kind of why that train derailed at some point, it was just getting ridiculous. We came from playing Who's Emma in Kensington Market and all of a sudden we're in this place where everyone's doing drugs and partying like they're Guns N' Roses. Now, after all of these years and touring with Fucked Up and being around the world and still being able to make a living from music, I just feel way more appreciative. I still have no idea where this road is going but I'm happier to be on it."
Torture Culture touches on myriad topics Cook has an axe to grind about, but more than anything references the self-destructive nature of modern life.
"I feel like the record title says it all. We're living in this time where we torture ourselves — it's all coming from within us. We have the power to change that, but there's a majority of the population that don't have the foresight to see what the fuck is happening, and maybe that's all we're destined for — to be in the dark and kill each other off. It speaks for itself. It's a No Warning record, when you have that shit blasting you're going to know what we're trying to say."
Torture Culture is out now Last Gang.