Frontman Roy Stride talks us through the band’s biggest, weirdest and most wonderful gigs ahead of their UK tour with Olly Murs
Scouting For Girls and Olly Murs – a match made in pop heaven. Roy Stride certainly thinks so.
“I think we’re so similar in terms of the sort of music we do and the way we approach our live shows,” he says, “which is very much focused on the crowd, getting the crowd involved and making sure they have a great time and leave with a smile on their face. So it’s such a lovely pairing”.
The group have known Murs a long time – “I was gonna say since he was a baby, but it feels like that!” laughs Stride. Signed to the same label, the band watched Murs rise from X Factor hopeful to a pop force, and are now preparing to join him on his UK tour this spring.
Thankfully, Scouting For Girls are also back in the studio. Now working on new material, Stride says the experience has been something of a rediscovery of his love for music and songwriting.
“I’d kind of felt a bit flat with it all,” he admits. “And then the last year and a half ago, lots of things changed in my life, and one of the things that really changed was just how much I love music and how lucky I am. It’s become a real central focus and I think you can hear it in these new songs. Everyone’s saying they’re the best songs we’ve ever done. To repeat [drummer] Peter Ellard, ‘I wish we’d written these f*cking songs when we were famous!'”
We caught up with Stride to talk about performances in the school hall, playing a lift in Amsterdam, and why the band’s Wembley stadium show contained the worst 20 minutes of his life.
Before people heard of Scouting For Girls, we’d been going for about 15 years. The first time we ever played was in the school hall, auditioning for the school play. And it was dreadful. Both Greg [Churchouse] and I managed to drop our plectrums, twice, at separate times. So we had to stop the song four times to pick up our plectrums. That was probably in 1995. It wasn’t good.
Selling out the Royal Albert Hall on our Greatest Hits tour was definitely one of them. We had all our family and friends there. It was such a beautiful night and an amazing after party. And, you know, it was in one of the best venues in the whole world.
We played in front of Buckingham Palace to like a billion people on TV. That’s probably the biggest one we’ve done. And we’ve done Wembley Stadium before. And Glastonbury stages… I don’t know, we’ve done so many big ones. I think we’re coming up to about 1500 shows.
When you’re playing those kinds of shows in front of Buckingham Palace and Glastonbury, when you know there’s a huge invisible audience out there as well as the one you can see, is that something you ever get in your head about?
I used to really worry about it. When we were at our biggest, I don’t think I enjoyed the shows as much as I do now, because I felt this huge pressure. We played some amazing shows, some massive shows, but I was always worried beforehand and maybe during, whereas now… I don’t care. In a really beautiful way. It’s about connecting with an audience. And I know now if something goes wrong, it just makes the show even more special and more unique and more fun. And essentially, you only really remember the shows where things go wrong. So if something goes wrong, everything’s a bit of a bonus, and everyone finds it funny.
We played a gig in a London Eye capsule. That was pretty small. And we did a lift in Amsterdam, like an actual lift. There’s the three of us and one person and a cameraman. We did one gig before the band got signed, where nobody turned up and even the sound guy went and got a kebab. That was probably the smallest in terms of audience.
Wembley Stadium. That was because it was before we had in-ear monitors, we used to have the old school stage monitors. And basically, I went on, and my monitors weren’t working. So I couldn’t hear anything. The stage is so big and there’s 80,000 people there. I turned around and realized Pete was actually already halfway through the song. The noise was so loud I had no idea what song it was or where he was in the song, or what I was supposed to sing. And we just had to carry on.
It was the worst 20 minutes of my life. That’s why I don’t worry about things anymore. It’s like, the most catastrophic thing that can happen – going out live on radio at Wembley Stadium in front of 80,000 people and not being able to hear yourself. Nothing really else could go wrong apart from falling off the stage, which I’ve also done. I’ve literally ticked every box.
Japan was weird. We’ve only played there a couple of times. It was weird because, firstly, no one really sings along. And then you finish the song and people go absolutely crazy, like 2000 people go completely wild for 10 seconds, and then it goes back to complete silence until you start the next song. At least that was our experience. I don’t know whether they were just winding us up.
The One That Made You Want To Play Music
It was probably… there’s so many, but I’ll go for Suede at the Watford Colosseum. That was one of my first gigs. We were 16, and we thought everybody was gonna be sitting down. We’d never even heard of a mosh pit, let alone been in one. But we got to the front. It was their Dog Man Star tour so they were like the biggest band in the country, and this show was literally just down from where we grew up. It completely blew my mind, that that’s what bands did. I thought it was going to be sitting down clapping nicely like a school assembly, and you know, we were sneaking beers and jumping up and down… it completely changed my life.