Some of the best and the brightest in AntiFolk action have come together to ask some questions of some other of the best and the brightest in AntiFolk action. This week: Cannonball Statman.
You’ve seen Jesse Cannonball Statman, if you’ve been to the Sidewalk Cafe back room over these last six months. With the gigantic mop top and the Valley Boy demeanor. You may even have met him. But do you know him? Really know him? You will soon…
Do you ever think you will “finish” customizing your guitar or will it always be a work in progress?
I think it might always be a work in progress. Right now I haven’t modified it in a couple months, and it’s working really well though, so I don’t know what I could do to improve it.
What’s with the whole half human half dog thing?
It’s not half, it’s part, and the ratio changes all the time. If I were half dog all the time I’d have a tail, claws, and a lot more fur. I think it averages out around 10% dog and 90% human — but that’s just an estimate.
How does a dog man come to exist, biologically?
I have no idea, but there must be some kind of explanation for it — I think you might need to ask a biologist.
What would make you stop claiming you were born part-dog?
I think I was born fully human. There was a transformation at some point, and now I’m part-dog. If I ever stop being part-dog, then I’ll stop claiming I’m part-dog.
What drives you to perform and work so hard in the world of antifolk? Where do you find motivation?
I’ve always had motivation to do something in art/music ever since I started writing songs. I think the world of Antifolk is the best world for what I do, and so I’m driven to make music here more than other worlds/universes.
Would you prefer to live off your music to a day job?
Depending on the day job, probably. There’s not much money to be made from music, though.
What was the name of the first song you ever wrote? What is it about?
“My Love is Away.” It’s about a love who went away. It wasn’t a real person, though. I wrote it when I was 8, and I think the characters were loosely inspired by this story I wrote when I was 6 or 7, that had a turkey/human named Tom Turkey and his girlfriend Cranberrysauce. And there was a part where Cranberrysauce moved away to some other town, or something. I still play that song sometimes.
What’s your most embarrassing story on the subway?
I don’t think anything too embarrassing has happened to me on the subway, at least that I know of. I think the most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to me in close proximity to the NYC subway was when I went to see this Coheed and Cambria show in Central Park with my friend when I was in high school. His parents had this really nice car that had no paper towels or tissues/napkins and he was always eating this chocolate pizza in the car, that would get all over the seats. And they never cleaned it up, because they had no way to do so. So it turned out while we were at this show that I had this brown stuff all over the back of my pants. And it looked like excrement, but it was really chocolate pizza. And then we ended up having to leave early because my friend wanted to go to this weird food cart in Midtown.
Do you have siblings?
I have a dog (Cannonball) but no brothers or sisters.
When did you first hear about the anti-folk scene?
I’m not sure when I first heard about the Antifolk scene, because I think I knew it was around before I even started performing regularly. But I didn’t know much about it at all until I actually started playing at the Sidewalk Open Stage. I know my art teacher in high school told me my music sounded kind of like The Moldy Peaches. People used to recommend that I play Sidewalk a lot, especially people who saw me play live, but somehow it took until October 2012 for me to actually go there.
Was it always your intention to become an anti-folk musician or did you kinda fall into it?
It was always my intention to be a musician, and apparently, a lot of what I do as a musician can be considered Antifolk. Even though I knew Antifolk existed for awhile, I didn’t know much about it until I actually came to Sidewalk. It’s good that I started coming here though, because I don’t know of any other scene where my music would really be supported in the way that it is here. And I also don’t know of any other scene that has so many other great musicians/artists on it that I would actually want to listen to / go to shows of.
What do you like about the scene?
I like a lot about the scene. The fact that people are willing to stay for 6+ hours at the Monday Open Stage really shows that we love what we do. Pretty much everyone I’ve seen here is making the kind of music/art they want to make, not trying to copy something that’s already popular in hopes of being some kind of celebrity.
What’s your songwriting process?
My songwriting process changes all the time. I wrote a song called Carlos is on Fire back in December after I was walking home one night and had a sort of surreal encounter with this homeless guy. When I got home I was inspired to write a song about it, and I came up with the basic music and lyrics after thinking about it for an hour or so. Then after playing that song live about 10 times the song had changed a bit and it became more of what I wanted it to be. There are other songs where the idea comes from a dream, or a fictional story I came up with, and the process for making the idea into a song can be completely different from song to song.
You present your songs in a silly, absurdist manner but are laced with darker undercurrents and themes. Is that a deliberate choice or just a natural byproduct of your creative style?
Well, when I started performing my music live, I sort of stood still on stage, and sang in a more serious, dark way. I gradually started having more energy, moving around more on stage, and performing the way I do now. The way I perform is always evolving, and I choose to do specific things on stage, like to wear a panda hat, or to jump around during an instrumental, but all those decisions come from the big picture of what I want to do right now as a performer, and I don’t know where “what I want” comes from. So to answer the question, the way I present my songs isn’t a deliberate choice, but the methods I use to present them that way normally are.
You have a bit of a spacey manner at times, has anyone ever accused you of being high? What’s your favorite drug?
I think at least 100 people have accused me of being high at some point in the past 5 years or so alone. I don’t do drugs, unless you count caffeinated beverages. It seems like a lot of people think you need to be high or drunk to enjoy anything, and a lot of people think the kind of music I write and perform must be being made by someone on drugs. I don’t mind it though. It’s better than needing drugs to have a good time, since I save money and potential issues with health or the law this way.
If there was one artist you could share the stage with alive or dead who would it be and why?
The Beatles, just because they were the first band I ever listened to, and they’ve always been one of my favorites. Realistically, I’d rather just watch them perform, and not be on the same bill. But it might be cool to have been on a bill with them when they were together.
What’s the one song you’ve heard at sidewalk/ on the Anti-folk scene that was not written by you that you wish you had written?
“One More Singularity (The ‘Shrooms Song)” by Stu “Chicken Leg” Richards. Great song.
Want more? Go to http://cannonballstatman.com/index4_13.html