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With just a two-piece band in front of them, many would expect a minimalist sound to emerge from the musicians. The Cinnamon Band is living proof that a simple setup of drums, guitar and vocals can still knock listeners off their feet and leave them in awe after a high-energy live performance. Together, guitarist John Harouff and drummer Neil Campbell have created a rock band that provides catchy melodies and a full sound, accompanied by unique vocal harmonies. The duo hadn’t originally planned on limiting the band to just two members. “We envisioned a three piece band when we first started and flirted with that idea for while,” Harouff says. They soon realized that their current two man set up was “logistically much easier and simpler.” With this dynamic, The Cinnamon Band creates a sound bigger and more unique than most two-piece acts today.
Having grown up together, Harouff and Campbell were composing music with each other by their junior year of high school. They performed separately with a number of different bands before reuniting to work on The Cinnamon Band (initially Harouff’s project) in 2007. It was then that they finally decided to put the band’s music up on MySpace for the world to hear.
Even though the project was formed a while ago, Harouff mentions, “It has been evolving ever since.” The band released their All Dressed EP on August 10, which was recorded in Montreal. Harouff states, “This EP represents us better than anything we’ve recorded.” The band is working on creating more music for an eventual full-length release, and hopes to get a label involved.
The Cinnamon Band’s writing process is a collaborative undertaking, though Harouff has dubbed himself the “control freak” of the two when it comes to composing music. Their process starts with Harouff writing a song and creating a demo, and then giving it to Campbell to evaluate. After both of them review it, they collaborate on the finishing touches. Harouff comments on their writing process, “There are limitations with a two person band.” He admits that having more layers to experiment with would make the writing and song development easier, but Campbell and Harouff have found a balance in their creative process and are writing music that is just as powerful as bands with twice as many members.
Since the release of All Dressed, the duo has continued experimenting with their sound and writing new material. They have been performing periodically and Harouff is always thinking of new ways to promote the group’s music and improve their stage show. Lately, Harouff and Campbell have been honing their ability to transcend their electric set by incorporating acoustic performances as part of their live arsenal. In fact, many of their recent gigs have been unplugged.
With recent stints in Chapel Hill, a CMJ set and an acoustic performance in Richmond, Harouff admits, “Every week is like research and development.” This is what separates The Cinnamon Band from their duo-brethren; their music is never stuck on one level. Because of their willingness to branch out and expand beyond their limitations, they are always creating something unique. The result is a big sound and performances that are sure to captivate any audience.