Cannonball Statman is known for his soulful lyrics and unique guitar style described by Bob’s Aural Delights as “the edge of madness”, and a sense of tenderness and playful melancholy that can be called “romantic punk”.
As noted in amNewYork‘s feature on him in 2023: “Producing his own music since eight years old, Statman needed a coping mechanism growing up in a post-9/11 world, dealing with the grief and anguish that came after these events. Growing up to become a staple in the music industry, producing over a hundred songs and releasing over a dozen albums, Statman has made a name for himself in the music scene, sharing stages with Jeffrey Lewis, Days N’ Daze, and Sunflower Bean, as well as touring across America, Europe, and Asia.”
Following his 2017-’19 world tour, when LiveTrigger Magazine dubbed him “king of modern antifolk”, he released Miracle on Neon Clown Avenue in 2022, and did multiple European tours and released Hard to Break in 2023, which UK radio DJ Stephen Doyle called “album of the year by a mile”.
Selected Quotes (2020-’23)
“Instant classic! Album of the year by a mile!” (Stephen Doyle, Salford City Radio)
“under the radar work of genius” (Lou Terry in Hard Of Hearing Magazine)
“…Statman charmed the entire greenhouse. Every now and then he jumped off the stage to make a U-turn after a few chords. The New Yorker also took over the Palmarium with his chatter in between, announcing his songs about the things of life. That’s how we learned that Grow is about hair, and Tiger is about a tiger. But he also brought a song that is “a love song and a murder song at the same time” (I’m Gonna Explode), or a song about longevity that becomes exuberant. It was quite fun to enjoy the man’s songs and honesty.” (daMusic)
“Definitely the best album of the year for me. I’ve listened to it many, many times now, and I said it was the best album of the year after the first listen. It reminds me of primetime Neil Young, Sonic Youth, R.E.M., and loads of other stuff, but totally original as well, and it is the genius that is Cannonball/Jesse Statman. It’s the new album that’s called Hard to Break. Just great songs, the best thing he’s ever done…songwriting is absolutely top notch, the playing is brilliant…he’s been on my radar for many years now, but every album just gets better and better…the lad’s relatively obscure, but he should be absolutely massive.” (Stephen Doyle, Salford City Radio)
“His numerous tours around the world have confirmed him as one of the masters of the genre (“The king of modern antifolk”, according to LiveTrigger Magazine). And Hard To Break should be the album of consecration.” (Music In Belgium)
“The only thing that’s worked harder than Cannonball Statman after a year of zig-zagging the UK and Europe on tour are his guitar strings. His 31st album demonstrates his irrepressible energy and his wit and personality shine throughout.” (Humming in the Din, Best Albums of 2023)
“Iconic” (The Leighton Buzzard Observer)
“One of the most theatrical and energetic live musicians New York City has ever produced.” (Associação Terapêutica do Ruído)
“One of my most beautiful surprises of this autumn 2023 was entering a Parisian bookstore on a rainy evening and finding much better than a good novel: France de Griessen, Cannonball Statman and their guitars. Captivated by their presence, and bewitched by their poetry, my next encounter with them and their music will not be by chance; I look forward to a future tour of theirs that will bring them near my home.” (Simon Baril, author of Bleu guitare)
“Great American storytelling” (Radio Javali)
“New York folk-punk legend” (Medina Bookshop)
“Surreal tales of a New Yorker” (France de Griessen)
Selected Quotes (2012-’19)
“the punkest motherfucker that I’ve seen in a long time.” (Somer Bingham of The Real L Word)
“You can’t fuck with this kid. He puts modern “punk” acts to shame. Very aggressive folk music. This is like acoustic Dead Kennedys. He sounds like he is about to snap and he barks like a dog. I think there is something wrong with him…in the best way possible.” (Crazy & the Brains frontman Chris Urban in PunkNews)
“For starters, Cannonball Statman (who made it in our latest Best of NYC Poll for Emerging Artists) has got the look – with an over-sized afro of curly red hair and a commanding stage presence. The music delivers the acoustic punk attack of antifolk by way of black metal; it’s not unusual for a typical 5-minute song to run the BPM gamut and contain several distinct sections. Lyrically, he embraces smorgasbord surrealism, but the songs always resonate and the audience is never distanced from the youthful anxieties and aspiration that fuel his fervor.” (The Deli Magazine)
“Jesse “Cannonball” Statman met the challenge. With his great mop of curly hair surging as he head-banged and ripped into his guitar, Statman was a bristling ball of energy. Marrying his grunge folk attack to an earnest, off-kilter manner that recalled Jonathan Richman, Statman introduced absurdist songs about being half man-half-black-Labrador-retriever, and spying for the French government by swimming the English channel with entertaining, non-sequitur explanations.” (Creative Loafing)
“Cannonball Statman is so unbelievably great. At songwriting, at performing and at spreading freeing thoughts so charmingly, you want to cry. And he’s shredding the hell out of his guitar!” (Bernhard Karakoulakis, founder of the German antifolk label Lousy Moon Records)
“Cannonball Statman comes from Brooklyn, New York and delivers a unique blend of speed of light vocalising with an amazing guitar technique which varies between scratchy antifolk and stunning sonic dexterity. His songs are intense, oblique, and teetering on the edge of madness. The stand-out track “Carlos Is On Fire (and Alicia Doesn’t Know)” is five minutes of complex word play which feels like something Paul Auster would have written in the New York Trilogy. One of the best, and most unique, sets of music I have heard all year.” (Bob’s Aural Delights)
“Jonathan Richman on speed” (JD Meatyard)
“Here the components add up to a stylistic legacy, somewhere between Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground. The boy has a feeling for tempo, for dramaturgy, and he also has something to say. Listen!” (Das Klienicum)
Selected Career Highlights (2020-’23)
October 2023 – Released his 31st album Hard to Break, which was called “album of the year” by UK radio DJ Stephen Doyle, with Lou Terry listing the title track as his Song of the Year in Hard of Hearing Magazine; the album received radio play around the world including local and national stations in the US, the UK, France, and Catalonia, and its release was followed by a 7 week UK/EU tour spanning 9 countries, including dates with Jason Trachtenburg, France de Griessen, JD Meatyard, and Cowtown, and a performance at the London Antifolk Festival – amNewYork feature, Music In Belgium write-up, Island Echo write-up, Hard of Hearing Magazine piece, Sonic Diary feature episode, Radio Reverb interview
2023-’24 – Expanding on his lifelong commitment to antifascism and dezionization that he had previously shown in songs such as “East River Sunset”, which he wrote and recorded during and inspired by the Palestinian Great March of Return in 2018-’19, he made a pledge as one of the early signatories to the open letters by Queer Artists for Palestine and the Strike Germany coalition, to withhold his labor from institutions that are complicit in the genocide of Palestinians, including in Germany and in the Holy Land, until the demands of the Strike Germany coalition and the BDS movement are met.
September 2023 – Reunited with longtime collaborator and touring partner Mallory Feuer of The Grasping Straws and Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage for a 1 week UK tour to coincide with the recent Cannonball Statman music video releases and the new Grasping Straws EP Patterns – video, tour press
August 2023 – Released music videos for “Hard to Break” and “F Train Over Brooklyn” directed by Dylan Mars Greenberg and Preston Spurlock, with release parties at historic NYC venue Millennium Film Workshop.
2023 – Performed at events in the UK and mainland Europe connected with compassionate and humanizing approaches to mental health treatment and survivors of psychiatric abuse, inspired by his numerous personal experiences as a survivor of psychiatric abuse, imprisonment, and trafficking in the US and Mexico in his childhood, adolescence, and 20s, now sharing his story with the public for the first time.
August 2022 – Released the double album Miracle on Neon Clown Avenue, and did a UK/EU tour for it the following Spring, including a concert with Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage – album write-up, tour playlist, tour radio interview, tour press
2022 – Wrote his 300th song.
2020-’22 – Wrote and recorded Hard to Break in the UK and Mexico – rehearsal video
Selected Career Highlights (2012-’19)
2016-’19 – Made a living as a full-time internationally touring solo artist on a 3 year world tour, with hundreds of dates in North America and Europe including fundraisers for Food Not Bombs and anti-racist groups and dates with influential Belgian band The Shovels and California lo-fi band The Blank Tapes, and Asian dates including with iconoclastic star Joanna Wang and award winning Taiwanese band Outlet Drift – blog interview, write-up, radio interview, playlist
2018 – Commissioned by Auden Lincoln-Vogel and Estonian Academy of Arts to write and record Interdimensional Ice Cream Cake, a series of songs made for and inspired by Lincoln-Vogel’s award-winning short film Zorg 2.
July 2016 – First tour in mainland Europe, with The Grasping Straws – playlist
2016 – Wrote his 200th song.
2015 – Made Crazy & the Brains frontman Chris Urban’s Best of 2015 list in PunkNews with Shriekofafreak! – write-up
March 2015 – Supported Current Joys at Palisades in NYC – write-up
March 2014 – Collaborated with Jeffrey Lewis on a cover of “Lady Godiva’s Operation” by The Velvet Underground – video
2014 – Voted one of NYC’s Best Emerging Artists by readers of The Deli Magazine – link
February 2014 – Photographed and written up as part of a New York Times feature on prominent performers in the NYC open mic scene, also including Dylan Mars Greenberg – link
2013-’15 – Became closely involved with a new wave of Millennial and Gen Z artists in NYC’s antifolk movement that was emerging at the time, performing with both established and up-and-coming antifolk and adjacent artists such as Sunflower Bean, Pinc Louds, Matthew Silver, Days N’ Daze, Brook Pridemore, David Peel, Jeffrey Lewis, The Grasping Straws, Jason Trachtenburg, The Pizza Underground, Crazy & the Brains, Teenage Halloween, and members of The Moldy Peaches. Though widely regarded as the “king” of the Millennial and Gen Z wave of NYC antifolk due to his close connection with this scene before he left NYC in the mid 2010s, Cannonball is primarily known for his collaborations and tours with British and European artists, and his musical style that is more associated with rock, art pop, and romantic punk than antifolk.
2012 – Changed stage name and band name to the name of his childhood dog, Cannonball Statman, after a bizarre hand injury significantly changed his songwriting and guitar style. Collaborated with the late hip hop pioneer Kid Lucky (video).
Selected Career Highlights (2000-’11)
2011 – Graduated from high school, and began to perform live on a more frequent basis, starting with a packed concert at Perch Cafe in Brooklyn with performance poet Jane LeCroy, and an appearance at the First Annual Hudson Music Festival.
2010 – Wrote his 100th song.
2009-’10 – Began a prolific phase of writing and recording songs in his bedroom while attending high school and living with his parents in their Brooklyn apartment. These songs were only released to the public many years later, on Cannonball Statman albums such as Transformation in the 24 Hour Deli, Life on a Landlocked Island, More Than The Nightmare Station, and Trips.
2008-’10 – Wrote, directed, and edited his most ambitious short film of this time, a movie called The Manual Polar Goes For A Ride that takes place in a possible future where Brooklyn, New York has been held under siege for generations by a mysterious and destructive entity, and a group of mutated young people try to escape to somewhere they can live more fulfilling lives. This movie was originally only screened and distributed locally within NYC, but was later released online by a collector of Cannonball’s early work whose identity remains unknown – link
2009 – Became a published poet with his poem “Vaseline” in Hanging Loose Magazine #95. Later works were published in Eleven and a Half Journal, and he went on to give readings of his poetry at venues around the world, including NYC’s legendary Bowery Poetry Club in 2012 and Paris’s Librairie La 25e Heure in 2023. He has continued to write poems prolifically, and often sets them to music, as can be heard on the tracks “Helsinki, 1993” and “Sunrise: Where’s Ace?” from the albums Hard to Break (2023) and Miracle on Neon Clown Avenue (2022), respectively.
2002-’17 – Was a prolific writer, director, and editor of experimental, low-budget short films and music videos in collaboration with various co-writers, co-directors, co-editors, animators, actors, and crew members in NYC, amassing a filmography of over 100 shorts and music videos at the time, some of which are still available online – link, link, link, link, link
2004 – Finished post-production on his debut short film The Scarf, a surrealist anti-war movie co-starring and co-directed with Band Of The Land bandmate Beth Heuer that was released as a now out of print DVD in the underground scene in NYC that year, and was later released for viewing online – link
2002-’03 – Was a guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist in Caution Tape, with members of Fiasco.
2002 – Began writing, recording, and performing music and learning to play guitar and sing, forming The Band Of The Land with percussionist and singer Beth Heuer. Released early cassettes on the underground scene in NYC. Started production on short film The Scarf.
2000-’01 – Collaborated with his grandpa, the poet Kenneth Koch, on a series of poetry comics, shortly before Kenneth’s death.
Tech rider for solo performances
Cannonball’s solo performances are done with one acoustic-electric guitar and vocals. For amplified solo performances, he only requires a vocal mic and stand, a PA system, and something to plug his guitar cable into.
He often has merchandise with him on tour, and likes for there to be a table to set up his merchandise, preferably near a power outlet or a light so the merchandise can be well-lit and visible if the space is dark.
Cannonball normally travels alone when he tours as a solo artist, unless he has additional artists on the road with him. He is allergic to shellfish, raw carrots, and some cats. He doesn’t drink alcohol or do any drugs (except for caffeine). He likes to have at least one cup of coffee in the morning, black, with no sugar, either a double espresso or an americano.