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Scouting For Girls are still the uncool kids who love to bring joy, Roy Stride explains

They’re so lovely: Scouting For Girls, from left, Greg Churchouse, Roy Stride, Peter Ellard

‘WE’RE not cool, and we never have been,’ laughs Roy Stride, the singer, pianist and songwriter for Scouting For Girls. ‘When we were kids, me and Greg [Churchouse, the bass player] were in our school band. We were monumentally uncool people who hoped that one day we might be able to get a girlfriend. There were the musos with all their angst, and then us, jumping around having a good time, and 20 years on, not much has changed.’

More than a decade since their self-titled debut album topped the UK charts, the trio released fifth studio album, The Trouble With Boys. Packed with trademark bouncy pop anthems, including Grown Up, co-written with James Blunt and Dancing With You, both of which were put straight onto BBC Radio 2’s new music playlist. ‘It’s funny, you don’t have nearly as many bands these days. It’s much more dominated by solo artists and producers who work with different artists all the time,’ says Roy, of the band’s success. ‘There hasn’t really been anyone coming through to replace us, so we’re still doing what we do and thankfully people are still listening to us — and still coming to see us live.’

Following their 2017 tenth anniversary tour, which saw the band play to more fans than ever before, they’re currently working their way through a new 30-date run of UK and Ireland shows. ‘This is our favourite time to tour,’ enthuses Roy. ‘We knew we wanted to do it in the run up to Christmas. When we talk to fans, they tell us it’s their Christmas tradition. They might take the day off work, go to the Christmas markets, have dinner and drinks with friends and then they come and see us. There would be a mutiny if we tried to do that in March and April.

‘I love this time of year. There’s something really magical about playing a gig when it’s cold outside, of bringing people together in the run up to Christmas. We try to do it most years, and for us as well as for the people who come to see us, it’s a bit of a high point of the year. The other reason is that we have some Christmas songs which we really love to play live, and you really can’t get away with them any earlier in the year.’

Touring around Christmas also allows the band to spend the new year working on new songs. ‘We’ve fallen into a bit of a rhythm each year, which means we can spend January and February writing and recording, and then get back out in the spring. Summer is festival time, and we love festivals, then autumn and winter we start to think about touring. Having a bit of structure to the year does help us to plan a bit, and know what we’re looking forward to.’

Scouting For Girls — named after a play on the title of the 1908 scouts’ manual — built their fanbase with DIY fan club the Wolfcubs, with homemade membership cards and badges. ‘We still have those fans from our first gigs,’ says Roy. ‘I love that they have stuck with us all this time, and it’s really exciting for us to see them at gigs.’

With five albums, there’s no easy way of putting together a set list. ‘You want to play the songs that people love the most, so we always play the singles, and then you get people asking for a certain one because it was their wedding song, and you want to try a few reworked ones we’ve not done for ages, so it’s always a bit of a juggling act,’ says Roy. ‘I have always loved pop music. I grew up listening to The Beach Boys and The Beatles and I’ve spent my career chasing the perfect pop song. We’re never going to pretend we are tortured artists. We are still those uncool kids who love to make people happy. Watching a room full of people dancing and smiling to a song you’ve written is as good as it gets.’

While we’re in the festive spirit, what’s on the Christmas list? ‘A number one record?,’ suggests Roy. ‘Or a Christmas number one. We’ve always wanted one of those. Failing that, by the time we’ve finished our tour I will be desperate to go home and sleep in my own bed, so a proper family Christmas, sitting in my comfy armchair at home, would be pretty perfect.’

December 6, O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, London, and touring,