So when did High Rollers first form?
We formed back in 2008.
How did the band start?
I was looking to start a function band but one that would only play my favourite music. I refused to only play the ‘wedding classics’ for the sake of it.
How did you get into Soul music?
You always hear soul music on the radio. It’s always there on whichever station you hear as it’s such universal music appealing to so many moods. I would have heard a lot of soul music without really knowing what the artists were. And once I’d got over my rock/indie phase aged 17/18 I clocked that so much of these radio songs that I truly loved were ‘soul music’. You scratch the surface of the genre and find there is an absolute iceberg underneath.
How did you pick the band?
I knew a bass player who was keen to do soul functions. He knew a drummer and we had a jam. It sounded good. Then the other musicians then came from recommendations and from reputations as being the hottest players on the scene.
Did you study anywhere and who were your teachers?
I studied privately with a wonderful blues player called Chris Newland who teaches at ICMP in Kilburn. He helped join a lot of dots and gave me a love of that American rootsy bluesy guitar playing so intrinsic to soul and funk music.
Who are your 10 favorite bands/Artists of all time?
Sly and the family stone
What kind of booking do you tend to get with The High Rollers?
Weddings mainly but we’ve also done corporates gigs, charity events,NYE gigs and big birthday parties too.
What are 10 of your favorite tunes to play with The High Rollers at a wedding or corporate function?
Happy – Pharrell
I got you (I feel good) – James Brown
Valerie – Amy Winehouse
Forget You – Cee-lo
Superstition – Steve Wonder
Play that funky music – wild cherry
You can all me Al – paul Simon
Kiss – prince
Blame it on the boogie.
Billie Jean – MJ
Do you take song requests at weddings, private parties and corporate functions?
We learn the first dance for couples if they want. We can also learn other tunes that a specially requested with enough notice given.
What different kinds of music can you play at an event?
Funk and disco are very happy bed-fellows of soul music so there’s plenty of that. We also play some classic rock and roll, a few soul-influenced modern classics and a smidgen of reggae too.
What is the standard kind of set that most people request for?
Soul and funk are great genres for a wedding as they are totally cross-generational and ageless- and it has a winning combination of being able to sing along and to dance at the same time. That’s the holy grail for a function tune.
Can you tailor a set to any occasion?
We have a song list of about 80 tunes and we invite the client to pick 30 of their favourite. Of those 80 we can lean towards soul, funk, rock’n’roll or modern classics according to what the client wants.
What’s the biggest client you’ve played for?
We played for a couple of Romanian brothers who were pretty mega-connected and wealthy on New Year’s Eve a couple of years back. There were about 1000 people in this vast club in Bucharest decked out in full Casino Royal which was pretty awe-inspiring.
And what is your favorite gig that you’ve ever done?
Probably that one. Or on the other end of the spectrum there have been a number of smaller weddings where the guests were simply adoring the dance floor and whose energy could power the national grid. You are so close to them that the energy is utterly infections. It’s a great feeling.