FEATURE: Jonathan Cook on Family, Faith, and the Future of Forever The Sickest Kids

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Interview & Words by Stephanie Smith

Back in 2012, Forever the Sickest Kids graced the cover of Highlight’s seventh issue. They had released two studio albums, in 2008 and 2012, and were in the process of writing their third–and, for now, their last. The band reunited for a few reunion shows earlier this year, but they don’t have plans to tour or release new music in the near future.

When I spoke with Jonathan Cook back in April, it was ten years and one day after his band first signed a record deal. Now 33, Cook is a husband, father, realtor and not surprisingly, worship band member at his church.

“You can take the singer from the stage,” Cook said. “It’s hard to take the stage from the singer.”

It was late March, at So What?! Music Festival in their hometown of Dallas, Texas, where Cook and bandmates Caleb Turman, Kyle Burns and Austin Bello reunited to perform for the first time since 2013. He said the band picked up right where they left off. Around 1200 fans came out for the homecoming.

“People traveled from Iowa, drove in from Illinois, came from New York, Connecticut, Boston; it was great,” Cook said.

Cook is still trying to take it all in. Surprisingly, he hasn’t written music in three years. Turnman and bassist Bello still do, but whether there will be another album or  tour, Cook can’t say. Understandably so, priorities are bound to change in the decade from when FTSK signed their last record deal.

With the exception of an occasional FTSK throwback, these days real estate, golf and son Gates Monroe (whom Cook and wife Cierra welcomed in October 2015), dominate his social media feeds. Cook said traveling for tour “eleven months of the year didn’t continue to work for us.”

Tour life also took a toll on his faith. Raised in a Christian home, Cook credits the relationship he’s had with God since age nine for any success he’s enjoyed.

“My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is my identity and I want [people]to know that,” Cook said. “I know that the talents came from him. If it wasn’t for Christ blessing me with these talents, I would have never been able to have a platform for ten years like I did and meet the people I did, and changed so many people’s lives through [the]positive message of our music.”

As for FTSK, the band isn’t defunct, but dormant. The band are on pause until opportunity and availability align again. Cook said he is grateful for the fans who “drive our decisions as much as we do.”

When it makes sense, they’ll play again, “even if it’s just for one, fun show.”

Perhaps one is just around the corner, as debut album Underdog Alma Mater turns 10 in April 2018. Nothing has been confirmed yet, but FTSK fans should keep their eyes peeled.

“Keep following us on our Facebook,” Cook said. “That’s where the updates will be.”

 

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