I find myself in a bit of bounty of good music lately – I know, there are worse things, but it can be overwhelming. You end up listening to soo much that it is hard to actually listen, I mean really listen. This is why I am posting on John Statz – I had a bit of an Americana fix that I had to feed for the last couple of weeks and this young singer-songwriter is one of the remedies to what ailed me.
John Statz is a Wisconsin native playing some folk country music that I have had a hankering for lately. I immediately jumped to his EP from last year as “Our Love was Made for Canada” is something I can get behind, being Canadian and all! Outside of my country pride, this EP is a fantastic mellow trip into the depths of his talent. Well, I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, you should actually start with his debut album “Dusk Came Slow” from 2006 which I must say is a great debut. This album has garnered Statz some praise as being The Madison Area Music’s “Best Folk/Americana Album” of 2007 (actually with his 2006 release, I guess). I must say, for only being in his early 20′s, the sound and maturity of these songs really is a refreshing surprise and I am glad it is getting noticed.
Another area that struck me for this young artist is his push for local Wisconsin talent to get out there and to get noticed. He leads “Old Pete Booking” which is in place to assist in getting the music to the people. The people who might not normally get a chance to see this talent outside of the local venues and watering holes.
A Slowcoustic first here – I had a chance for a bit of “Q & A” with John, see below for the interview;
1.) What moved you to being a folk artist?
As soon as I started playing guitar at age 15 all I really wanted to do was sing along with it, so I started with songs like Bush’s “Glycerine” or Nirvana’s “Polly”. In college I really began to delve into songwriters like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Jeffrey Foucault, and Gillian Welch. The stripped down songs of, say, Welch’s “Revelator” album or Dylan’s “Freewheelin’” really spoke to me, and solidified me in the songwriter camp. Also, a fellow Wisconsin songwriter named Jeffrey Foucault (who has become my folk-hero) inspired me more with every performance I attended.
2.) With the internet these days – is it easier to get started, but difficult to get noticed?
I think that the internet makes it easier on every front for musicians to directly reach fans. It cuts out the middlemen, record labels aren’t a necessity anymore. It also makes promotion a lot easier. If I have 40 “friends” on myspace from Pittsburgh, and I play a show there, I can send out a bulletin to let them know I’m coming through, and a good number of them may come out. I’ve also stayed in touch directly with many fans that have come out to shows in the past and have developed a friendship with.
3.) I see you are a huge supporter of your local Wisconsin talent – in this difficult market, why focus on “the many” instead of your own advancement?
There is a lot of great talent in Wisconsin worth supporting, I believe that our state has a great tradition of songwriters. The more well-known guys are people like Willy Porter, Peter Mulvey, and Jeffrey Foucault. I like to think that there is now a “second generation” of Wisconsin folksingers like myself that are making names for themselves, songwriters like Josh Harty, Blake Thomas, Jeremiah Nelson (of Patchwork), Hayward Williams, and we’ve just seen Bon Iver blow up nationally. I don’t think Wisconsin is a difficult market, it has a number of cities within that are great for live music (with the capital of Madison leading the way), and I think that it is important to work with everyone because we can do more together than alone. In fact, I book shows sometimes for Josh and Jeremiah. I think it is to our advantage to promote Wisconsin as an area full of strong songwriters, rather than to send just one of them out as proof to the nation.
4.) You sound beyond your years, who has influenced you and your sound as an artist?
Thank you for that compliment, I have been influenced by many old-time musicians such as the Carter Family (grew up listening to them via my dad), Woody Guthrie, Elizabeth Cotten, Mississippi John Hurt, and Hank Williams. Bob Dylan and Townes Van Zandt have probably influenced me more than anyone with regards to lyrical content, and I constantly return to their material for learning. Newer artists like Ryan Adams, Gillian Welch, and Iron & Wine have inspired me with how they continue to experiment and take folk music beyond three chords on an acoustic guitar.
5.) What is next for John Statz (touring Canada??)
Next I will be doing my first “Train Tour” of the east coast. I’ll be taking the train from Chicago to Philadelphia, and then joining a friend of mine who lives in Delaware named Kyle Swartzwelder. We’ll be driving around and playing some shows in western Pennsylvania, New York City, and New Jersey, before I take the train back home. I’ll probably head out west to Colorado in March, and I’m hoping to make it to Canada real soon! The only problems with touring Canada are the visa requirements, and as someone who does all my own booking, that adds more headache to the process. I love Canada, though, and have been there many times recently, visiting Montreal, New Brunswick, and Niagara Falls, so I am hoping to come through with my guitar soon! I did actually play one show when I was in Fredericton, New Brunswick a few years ago, but shhhh, don’t tell the authorities, I didn’t have a visa!
You will find a lot of reference to Jeffrey Foucault in descriptions (and by himself above) for the feel and sound of John Statz, maybe we are listening to the next Foucault – you decide. I have a few tracks for you that span the last few years and releases from Statz, one from his debut in 2006, follow up EP in 2007 and latest live release this year.