Interview: Roy Stride, singer, Scouting For Girls

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JACK KEROUAC once said that anonymity in the world of men is better than fame in heaven. Then again, the beat writer had a fervent following who would track him down wherever the road took him, so you can understand his desire for a little privacy now and then.

Getting mobbed has never been a problem for the three lads in Scouting For Girls, mind. Despite shooting to stardom with their self-titled platinum-selling No 1 debut album, enjoying a string of hit singles including She's So Lovely, and playing live to half a million fans, no one ever recognises the Harrow boys in the street.

"I feel like Superman, because most of the time I'm as anonymous as Clark Kent," jokes frontman Roy Stride, an ex-Carphone Warehouse employee who writes and sings the songs, the latest of which, This Ain't A Love Song, knocked the mighty Lady Gaga off the top of the charts a fortnight back, giving the piano-led trio its first No 1 single.

"Even my hairdresser has no idea who I am, and that's even after the video for the new single was on TV in the background while he was cutting my hair," he laughs. "And one of my old neighbours constantly teased me by singing She's So Lovely at me, because he thought I looked 'a little bit like' the singer in Scouting For Girls.

"This went on for a year, until there was no way I could tell him I actually was the singer."

Perhaps there lies the secret to the band – they look like normal, everyday human beings, albeit ones who write infectious, hook-laden pop songs.

"We're just normal blokes," agrees Stride, whose outfit play the HMV Picture House on Monday. "We're only successful because our songs are so catchy, and you only have to look at our gigs to see we've got fans of all ages and backgrounds."

Looking pleased with himself, he adds that they're "like the Ant and Dec of the music world."

The massive success of Scouting For Girls' debut album came as something of a surprise.

"Yeah, it's a little unusual to get to number one so long after the initial release, but I guess it was driven by the singles we were releasing from it and from the live shows," says bassist Greg Churchouse, after apologising for being a tad hung-over from the night before.

"I still don't think that it's sunk in that we got to number one, but it's important to keep doing what we do well," he adds.

As a result of the whirlwind start to their career, expectations surrounding follow-up Everybody Wants To Be On TV were sky high. They got around this largely by sticking to the formula that worked for them first time around.

"Rather than going in a completely new direction, we wanted to keep the Scouting For Girls sound with the big hooks, the singalong songs, whilst making it sound current," says Churchouse. "We worked very hard to make the new record the best it could be, and we're all really proud of the results.

"We didn't want to just recreate the first record. Most second records are artistically crap and commercially disappointing, so we knew we had to avoid falling into that trap. We wanted to make a second album better than the first, and sell so well that we could do a third and a fourth – that's our target. Luckily our label (Epic) were really busy working with JLS last year, so we didn't hear from them and they just let us get on with what we were doing."

The third member of Scouting For Girls is drummer Peter Ellard – a massive fan of TV soap Emmerdale, whose dream came true recently when the band played live at the famous Woolpack pub.

"We went on Radio Aire a couple of weeks ago," explains Churchouse. "It was part of a radio tour we were on. It turned out the station were having an Emmerdale week, and the show was live from the Woolpack and we played a short set there.

"Pete's a big fan of the show, so it was pretty bizarre seeing how it affected him. He was just stood there during the set, looking gobsmacked to be in the Woolpack, let alone playing a gig there."

After the set, Ellard spoke to the show's producer about trying to get a proper part in the soap. "We thought he was just mucking about, but he actually did try and blag us onto the show," laughs Churchouse. "The producer came up with this scenario where we're driving through Emmerdale and the tour bus breaks down, and we end up playing a gig for the locals.

"I don't know if anything will come of it, but anyway, I think it would be too much excitement for Pete."

Scouting For Girls, HMV Picture House, Lothian Road, Monday, 7pm, 22.50, 0844-847 1740, over 14s show.