The pipes, the pipes are calling

Red Hot Chilli Pipers
Red Hot Chilli Pipers

Over a decade ago, ‘Bagrock’ was unheard of, but now it’s something that continually draws large crowds to theatres and venues across the UK and further afield.

It’s a fusion of traditional Scottish music and rock/pop anthems.

And it’s all thanks to the Red Hot Chilli Pipers - yes, pipers and not peppers.

For they have become the most famous bagpipe band on the planet.

From a cameo appearance at T in the Park back in 2004 when they played with The Darkness, they’ve come a long way in the last 10 years.

This summer they opened the main stage at the Scottish festival in their own right.

Next Saturday, December 30 the band return to the Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline to perform not one, but two sell-out performances.

Kevin MacDonald from the band explained: “We’ve got the matinee and evening and both are sold out.

“This is the sixth year we’ve played the Alhambra and it’s become a bit of an institution.

“It’s now the pre-Hogmanay party.”

So for those lucky enough to have tickets to see either one of the two shows when the pipers come to the Kingdom, what can they expect?

“We brought out our new live DVD, ‘Live at the Lake’, which was filmed in America this summer and we’re bringing the same show to the Alhambra.”

The band’s achievements have reached incredible heights.

They have sold millions of albums, with their first album, ‘Bagrock to the Masses’ receiving a gold disk and their third album and DVD ‘Blast Live’, achieving triple platinum status.

The band have performed sell-out tours and festivals around the world including in the UK, USA, China, Australia, New Zealand, across Europe and in the Middle East.

In 2007 they were the winners of BBC talent show ‘When Will I Be Famous’, which brought them to the attention of a much wider audience.

And they have twice been named ‘Best Live Act’ at the Scots Trad Music Awards - both in 2007 and 2010.

For many the bagpipes are definitely not an instrument you would associate with pop and rock music, but these bagpipers, who are among the very best in Scotland and across the globe, have shown a different side and a versatility to the instrument.

Earlier this year the Chilli Pipers covered Avicci’s track ‘Wake Me Up’ for the Radio One Breakfast Show and the video went viral on social media and attracted over two million views on YouTube.

Kevin has been a member of the Red Hot Chilli Pipers since they started out in 2003, having been playing the bagpipes since he was a young boy.

He said: “I started playing when I was seven at a local community pipe band.

“I moved down to the Central Belt and struck up a friendship with Stuart Cassells when I was 10.

“Then when he was 22/23 he had the idea of doing a corporate event with us all playing.

‘‘At that time we were all doing events on our own, like weddings and funerals.

“But this brought us together to play at formal events. We basically paid our way through uni.

“And low and behold we’re now on our sixth album having won a TV show, and sold millions of albums and we’re travelling the world playing music.

“I love doing it, it’s the best job. Eleven years down the line I don’t think any of us thought we’d still be doing this.

“It’s essentially 12 best mates on tour, like a stag weekend every weekend, but without the nonsense.”

But the big question is, what is it about the music that has seen the band stand the test of time and continue to entertain audiences on a regular basis?

“It’s something different and it’s not only about the music,” Kevin said.

“It’s an incredible show and people can enjoy two hours of good family fun.

“Anyone can come from age six to 106. It has no boundaries.

“It’s not a rock concert you have to be over a certain age to see, it’s good family wholesome fun.

“I think people have adopted the band into their hearts.

“Every time we come to Fife we have a great time.”

And is there a particular highlight of Kevin’s from the last decade with the band?

“I think playing the Proms in the Park in Hyde Park would probably have to be a highlight for me,” he continued.

“And also the live DVD we filmed in America. It was unheard of before for a band like us to do something like that and we’ve spent more than any live band in Trad music on it.”

The last 12 months have been busy for the band, and things do not look as if they will quieten down at all in 2015.

Kevin said they already have a lot lined up with tour dates around the globe, including in America and 
Canada as well as back in England.

He added: “We’re doing the biggest TV show in China and we’ll be doing festivals 
in the summer, a tour in England and then hopefully back to the Alhambra next December.”