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The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are an ensemble consisting of pipers, guitarists, keyboards, and drummers formed in Scotland in 2002. They entered and won the BBC talent show When Will I Be Famous? They are named after the American rock band the Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In 2004, the group appeared on the main stage at T in the Park with the headline band, the rock group The Darkness. Also, a track from the new Red Hot Chilli Pipers CD was recently played on BBC Radio 1.
The band features Stuart Cassells, the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2005, Steven Graham - a twice world champion snare drummer. Three of the band members recently graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Stuart's piping has been featured on The Darkness album 'One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back' and on the soundtrack to the film 'Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire'. The group is in much demand performing all over the world from the USA to China at significant events and festivals. In 2010, guitarist Gregor James left to form his own act, entitled 'Bags Of Rock'. He was replaced in the band by Fife-born Nick Hawryliw.
Ever since their formation in Scotland in 2002, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers have been combing the sound of guitars, keyboards, drums and their rocked up bagpipes to create their own signature sound of 'bagrock'. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are one of the country's most exciting acts, winning praise from audiences across the globe with their showmanship and trademark fusion of traditional pipe tunes and contemporary anthems. The band is also known for its covers of world-famous songs as they add their own unique spin of "bagrock" onto the song. Notable covers include "We Will Rock You" by Queen, "Clocks" by Coldplay and ""Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers have released 4 studio albums to date, of which their first, their 2005 release The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, was the least successful. Their second album, released in 2007, Bagrock to the Masses has gone platinum in Scotland and silver in Great Britain. However, their third album release, and first live album, Blast Live (2008), bettered the its predecessor by going triple platinum in Scotland. Their latest release Music for the Kilted Generation, however, is The Red Hot Chilli Pipers' best International record as it was Number 2 in a US Chart and was only held off of top spot due to Adele's record-breaking album, 21. The band have also been hailed by several respected figures, including the 5 time World Champion Pipe Major of the Shotts and Dykehead Pipe Band Robert Mathieson, in the Bag Piping world as for their part in increasing the popularity of Bagpipes.
The band signed a contract in December 2012 for a new album to be released in 2013, including many famous tracks from bands like Coldplay, Journey, etc.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers most high profile is on the Main Stage at T in the Park in 2004 they performed alongside the headline act, The Darkness. After their appearance at T In The Park with the band, bagpiper Stuart Cassels featured on The Darkness' album 'One Way Ticket to Hell... and Back'. Cassels' also featured on the soundtrack for the 4th installment of the Harry Potter films "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire".
In 2007, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers appeared on the BBC's prime time show "When Will I be Famous" hosted By Graham Norton. The band were in fourth show in the series and competed against another 7 contestants. The format of the show was that the 8 contestants would be paired into a head-to-head showdown in which the winner would be decided by 101 preregistered viewers who were dubbed the "Armchair Judges". The 4 winners of these head-to-heads would then compete against each other in the second show of the evening with the winner being decided by an open public phone vote. In their first head-to-head showdown, The Red Hot Chilli Pipers were pitted against the "Stringfever", a four-member string quartet. The Red Hot Chilli Pipers won the head-to-head in a close vote by the armchair judges as they won 51 to 50. They then progressed to the second show and got landed against Ioan Veniamin Oprea. After all of the contestants had performed, Graham Norton revealed who had won on the public vote and revealed in was the Red Hot Chilli Pipers. The band won the weekly prize of £10000
In 2010 The Red Hot Chilli Pipers completed an 11 date sold out tour of Scotland, as well as an 11 week tour of Germany and a 7 week tour of America. They also visited countries around the world including Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, India and most of Europe. They have also performed concerts in cities such as New York and Beijing.
With a total of 4 degrees from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (Royal conservatoire of Scotland) and all members of the band have competed at the highest level of bag piping for many years. The founding member and Music Director Stuart Cassells received 'BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the year' in 2005 and also became the first person ever to attain a degree in bagpipes from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama. Snare Drummer Steven Graham is also a Double World Champion Snare Drummer.
In March 2010, piper Willie Armstrong left the band to concentrate on his career in the fire service. Armstrong has been a fireman for 20 years and has been juggling his job and playing in the Red Hot Chilli Pipers since he joined. Last year he was given 12 months unoaind leave to tour with the band but was made to decide about his future upon returning. After deciding to leave the band, he was quoted saying "The fire brigade is a job that I love. This has been the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make". Armstrong also went on to say “I’ve done things with the Red Hot Chilli Pipers that I could never have dreamed of but there’s no security in a band and there’s no pension either. And also, to be brutally honest, I was missing my family — I have my two daughters Molly and Courtney — because I was away constantly".
In August 2010, guitarist Gregor McPhie quit the band and was replaced in the Red Hot Chilli Pipers by Nick Hawryliw.
On September 23, 2011, Stuart Cassells, the founding member and frontman of The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, left the band. Stuart decided that, after almost 10 years of service to the band, it was time to leave the band and pursue new goals and opportunities. Cassels was quoted as saying “I have had some absolutely amazing times in the band and I would never have imagined the success we’ve had. I want to thank all the great musicians I’ve had the pleasure of performing with and I’m excited about the new chapter in my life”. Prior to leaving the band, Stuart had been struggling with a physical condition called 'focal hand dystonia', which is more commonly known as writers' cramp, since 2008. Speaking to The Daily Record on the subject, Cassels was quoted on saying "My left hand refused to stay on the chanter. It was like my left hand wasn't my own, it wouldn't stay still, like someone else was controlling it. I knew in my head how I wanted to play but I couldn't because my hands would curl right up and tense up and move involuntarily. They weren't doing what they were supposed to do. The brain was sending far too many signals to my hands." Stuart has been undertaking various treatments throughout this period, including surgery to release a trapped nerve, physiotherapy and botox injections into his arm to relax the muscles, to keep playing at the high standard required to play in the band. Although Cassells has left the band, it is hoped that in the newly found spare time, he will be able to fully recover from writers cramp and be able to rejoin the band for some gigs in the future. A recent World Pipe Band Championship winner with the Field Marshall Montgomery Pipe Band, Kyle Warren, has joined the Red Hot Chilli Pipers in his place.
The Red Hot Chili Pipers were mentioned on the December 2004 Hamish & Dougal's Hogmanay Special, a BBC Radio comedy by Barry Cryer and Graeme Garden, though this is probably just a coincidence.
One of their albums is titled Music for the Kilted Generation, in a parody of an album title by The Prodigy.
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Image from Discogs