Interview: Scouting For Girls on Embracing Nostalgia and Déjà Vu

Scouting for Girls have spent lockdown falling in love with music all over again. On the cusp of the release of their collection of eighties covers titled Easy Cover, a playful and clever spin on Phil Collins’ Easy Lover, Gemma Cockrell spoke to the London three-pieces’ lead singer Roy Stride on his musical inspirations, the band’s upcoming touring plans, and his growing obsession with vinyl records.

“The idea for Easy Cover originally surfaced at 4AM on a very drunken tour-bus drive back from Ireland,” Stride reveals. “We were singing karaoke to Phil Collins’ Easy Lover, and someone suggested that we do a whole album of eighties tracks and call it Easy Cover, which at 4am seemed like a great idea, but when we woke up the next morning, we probably thought it was a rubbish idea,” he laughs.

“That was about ten years ago,” he recalls. “I started recording the covers during lockdown because we’d just finished touring our previous album, The Trouble with Boys. I was in the studio next to my house and all of the bands that I’d booked couldn’t make it, so I opened the drawer of bad ideas for Scouting for Girls and that’s how it all started.”

“I was a teenager when Britpop boomed... it completely turned my world upside-down when I was fifteen.”

Eighties music is evidently of great importance to Stride because it was the first music that he was exposed to as a child. “I’m not actually as old as I look, I was young in the 80s!” he laughs. Speaking of the hit-maker who directly inspired the album and its title, he elaborates, “My dad liked a bit of Phil Collins and I discovered him again when I was in my early 20’s. He’s an amazing songwriter.”

However, it was the music from the subsequent decade that truly inspired Stride’s musical career. “I was a teenager when Britpop boomed. Blur, Oasis, Pulp, Supergrass… all those great British bands. Through them, I discovered The Beatles and The Stones. That’s what made me want to be in a band, it completely turned my world upside-down when I was fifteen. I went to my first gig and I was like ‘That’s it! That’s what I want to do’ and I never looked back.”

Much like the rest of us, Stride’s lockdown experience consisted of “part boredom and part escapism,” and it is a combination of these emotions which resulted in Easy Cover finally becoming a reality. “I found a lot of solace in re-recording songs I loved as a kid. I’m a really nostalgic person and going back to the music that you heard as a child is really nice,” he reminisces. To mirror the nostalgia which is the driving force of the album, it’s being released on vinyl. “Pink vinyl,” he specifies with a grin, as he conveniently reaches across his studio and grabs a nearby copy to show me.

Despite being a band for over fifteen years, 2021 sees Stride more motivated and inspired than ever. “I’m in a really happy, creative place,” he admits with a grin. “It’s a by-product of lockdown, really.” It was his discovery of vinyl that triggered him to fall in love with music all over again, albeit a somewhat costly obsession to have. “I’ve got quite an expensive turntable. It was in the house, but every time I went to use it, my kids would have broken it, and I’d have to buy a new stylus, which costs like £100! So, I took the turntable out of the house and put it in the studio instead,” he laughs. “A vinyl addiction is a pretty dangerous place to be, especially during lockdown with eBay!”

“Since lockdown, I’ve really fallen head over heels back in love with music, and I’ve written loads of stuff.”

Alongside the nostalgia, vinyl’s high quality of sound is a key element of its charm for Stride. “When you make a record, they do a test pressing where they send it to you without any fancy stuff on it so you can check it through,” he explains. “I bought a new stylus, upgraded my turntable, and put it through my proper speakers, and the record sounded amazing! I was like ‘Wow, is that us?!’ Vinyl sounds better than streaming, the audio quality is definitely better.”

Another difference between vinyl and streaming which Stride appreciates is the fact it encourages you to listen to the album from start to finish, without skipping songs. “You don’t skip a song, you don’t get bored halfway through and start listening to something else, you just sit and listen to it in order. You invest more into the music personally, and you get more out of it. Vinyl gives you a different relationship with music. It’s like rather than just going on a date, you’re getting married and having children.”

Stride explains how he has also recently taken an interest in reading musical autobiographies, something which he has managed to successfully merge with his vinyl obsession through the design of the outer record sleeve for Easy Cover. “I love records where you’ve got something to read,” he says as he opens the vinyl up so I can see the writing on the inside of the sleeve. “There’s loads of stuff in here, it’s almost like a book.”

Stride confirms that his favourite cover to record was Everybody Wants to Rule the World by Tears for Fears. “That was one of the first songs I ever remember hearing as a kid. When it comes on, that guitar riff still gives me weird goosebumps. It reminds me of being at home in my bedroom. Even thinking about it makes me feel a bit weird. I love that feeling of déjà vu, nostalgia.” Scouting for Girls have made the track their own by transforming the classic guitar riffs into piano keys. “I think it turned out best on the record.”

“I think we’re going to have a new original album out soon, maybe early next year...”

Stride predicts that their cover of I Wanna Dance With Somebody by Whitney Houston will generate the largest crowd reaction when they take Easy Cover on the road in Autumn of this year. “Before lockdown, I’d started doing a bit of DJing – mainly indie, Britpop stuff. But I’d always slip in the odd eighties classic. That song, it doesn’t matter who you’re playing it too, you could be doing a wedding, it could be a university thing. When you put on that song, it always kicks off. So, I’m really looking forward to playing that one live.”

However, in addition to covers, the tour will not be without the band’s chart-topping hits. “The tour is going to be all the big Scouting for Girls songs – She’s So Lovely, Heartbeat, Elvis [Ain’t Dead]. This isn’t the tour to start playing new material or B-sides or album tracks. This is the tour to have the biggest, most fun party that we can. I can’t wait. We are always about making it as fun as possible for the fans, it’s the most important thing to us that everyone is having a great time.”

Looking to the future, the band are aiming to return with a new album of original material in early 2022. “Since lockdown, I’ve really fallen head over heels back in love with music, and I’ve written loads of stuff. I think we’re going to have a new original album out soon, maybe early next year. It’s all written, we just need to record it.” Stride exudes passion for his craft as he ends on a highly positive note: “I can’t wait, I’m just loving music at the moment.”

Written by: Gemma Cockrell

Edited by: Olivia Stock

Featured image courtesy of The Venue Derby via Facebook. In-article image courtesy of Scouting For Girls via Facebook.