Stuart Cassells, the co-founder and front-man for the popular “bag-rock” group The Red Hot Chilli Pipers, has decided to leave the band to move to New York City.
Cassells was diagnosed with focal dystonia, a neurological condition that causes involuntary muscular contraction and which affects approximately one of every 200 musicians. Despite treatments ranging from mechanical devices to Botox injections to long periods of rest, Cassells decided to depart the band, but hopes to rejoin the group “for a few special gigs in the future.”
In New York Cassells said that he plans to continue work on a new “bagpipe theatre” show. “I want to find people in NYC to help bring it to stage. I also will be taking time to focus on getting over focal dystonia.”
Cassells added, “I am just in need of a change of direction, as living out of a suitcase all the time eventually becomes boring!”
Since forming the Red Hot Chilli Pipers 10 years ago, the band has found popular success and acclaim around the world and, in particular, in their native Scotland. In 2007 and 2010 the group was named “Live Act of the Year” at the Scots Trad Music Awards, and was propelled to wider renown when it won BBC One’s “When Will I be Famous?” talent competition. The band’s four CDs have sold more than 250,000 copies combined.
Independently, Cassells was BBC Radio Scotland’s Young Traditional Musician of the Year in 2005 and his playing can be heard on the The Darkness’s One Way Ticket to Hell and Back and the movie Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Cassells was the first recipient of a degree in piping from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
“It’s been a blast, and I’ve had some amazing times and experienced things I would never have imagined,” Cassells said.
The Red Hot Chilli Pipers will soon start its first tour of New Zealand and Australia.