Get Yer Pedals Out: Starring John Harouff (The Cinnamon Band)

I couldn't quite tell you why, but for the longest time I've been somewhat moderately obsessed with pedals. Since I'm no guitarist I don't really have a valid reason for this, other than the fact that they both make pretty noises and are rather nice to look at. Much, really, like the folks who use them. I've decided to turn my inexplicable pedal fancy into Fuzzy Logic fodder, and I do hope you'll enjoy my foray into the ins and outs of pedal worship.

There's plenty of Virginia bands worth falling in smit with, friends, but The Cinnamon Band should be up there near the top of anybody's list. For a duo, they make a whole lot of sweet, sweet noise, steeped in humble Americana and blues, probably aided a little bit by that Appalachian magic. I've seen 'em live twice now, and these boys are the business. Currently embarking on an admirable covers project (one cover per month this year), the gents this month cover Nick Lowe and the result is all sorts of awesome. Below, delightful singer/guitar man John Harouff spills the goods on his pedal proclivities and the dynamics of being bass-less.
Fuzzy Logic: Which pedal is your very favorite and why?
John Harouff: Is it annoying to say my tuner? That's certainly the most important one. Other than that the only one I consistently use is an octave pedal since I'm running a standard 6-string guitar to a bass amp as well as my guitar amp. I've tried many brands and even fancier versions like POG pedals but I always come back to my cheap old DOD pedal. I think its an "Octoplus" or something like that. I never turn the octave up to the point where you can really hear it doubling the bass distinctly. I just like to add it in for a little rumble.

FL: Favorite chord?
JH: Nothing beats an E chord. There aren't that many songs where E is the best key for me to sing in but that’s what capos are for.

FL: Who's your guitarist icon?
JH: Well, Keith Richards always has amazing tones and voicings, Johnny Marr often boggles my mind and Jimi Hendrix was probably the biggest influence on my development. But I have to say The Edge. He's not single-handedly responsible for the post-punk shift away from blues licks to angular “architectural” playing, but he's as close to it as anybody. His playing is not only innovative but more important, it's simple and beautiful. Plus, he's kind of a nerd and I've seen him try and fail to play a traditional solos at award shows and such. And I think that's kind of endearing.

FL: With all the pedals out there, how do you decide which ones to procure?
JH: Very few things earn a permanent place on my pedal board; I like to keep things streamlined. But I'm always on the hunt for something that's a bit better or could give me something new to work with. I buy and return or sell different things all the time. My dad calls it wheeling and dealing. I prefer to focus on the cost/benefit analysis. For example, my old DOD octave pedal doesn't have the bells and whistles of the POG but its literally a tenth of the price and takes up less space on the pedal board. And they're both bargains compared to hiring a bass player.

FL: What's your dream pedal?
JH: Most of my ideas revolve around playing in a guitar and drums duo with no other backing instrumentalists. So I have some ideas for making it easier to play back up chords or to fill out low frequencies cleanly etc. I'd kind of like to synch a loop or delay pedal to a sensor on the kick drum to allow automatic ongoing tap tempo matching for rhythmic loops and delays. Right now when I use my loop pedal at all, I only use non-rhythmic drones since Neil's playing is too loud and wild to be pinned to an external tempo. (I love "Baba O'Riley" as much as the next guy but there are some drummers who shouldn’t be forced to play to a headphone track). I'm not at all morally opposed to loops and midi and prerecorded tracks but I like that we don't use anything like that. Its a challenge to always be banging up against the edges of a limited palate and seeing what else I could eliminate or simplify.

mp3: What Lack of Love Has Done (The Cinnamon Band - more on their 12x12 series here)

[photo by Megan Petty]


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