My chat with… Scouting for Girls’ Pete Ellard

Scouting for Girls, #whatkatydidUK, Katy Pearson
Nicest guys in rock? Scouting for Girls (c) Danny North

BEFORE heading on stage at Southend’s Cliff Pavilion later this month, Scouting for Girls will partake in their usual pre-gig ritual.

But it turns out when it comes to this little ceremony, the lads, who have been at the top of their game for ten years now, are not exactly rock and roll.

“I should probably say that we work out, that we do some jogging and do some bench pressing and all that…” laughs drummer Pete Ellard, when we caught up ahead of their new tour.

“But no, we actually have a bottle of wine in whenever we are and we all have a tap – so we tap into wherever we are playing, which is like a scene from Spinal Tap [a 1984 American rock music mockumentary comedy film] where they say, let’s tap into America. We do that.

“That’s it, that’s our little ritual before we go on stage. We always have to do it, no matter where we are. We always have to have a glass of wine before we go on stage.”

Very civilised, I chuckle.

“It is very, very civilised,” he concurs with a grin. “It’s not very rock and roll at all.”

Scouting for Girls, were signed to Epic Records in 2007. The guys, who were childhood friends, released their self-titled debut album that September and it reached No 1 on the UK Albums Chart in 2008. To date, it has sold more than 1million copies in the UK.

And they haven’t really looked back from there, selling more than 2m singles and being nominated for four Brit Awards and one Ivor Novello Award.

So, what’s this new tour all about I ask?

“Well we’re going to play whole of the original album, that first album, all the way through coz it’s ten years,” explains Pete.

“Plus a few other surprises we’ve been working on. It’s a 36-minute album so we’ve got add some more stuff. It should be good. It’s going to be good fun, I’m looking forward to it. We’ve been practising and working out what we’re going to do and it’s come together really, really good.”

Does he enjoy playing those original hits again?

“Yeah some of these songs are like 20 years old and some of them we haven’t played in ten years. It’s feels weird going back to them. Nice weird. It’s sort of rejuvenated it again. We’re playing these songs all the way through and I can’t wait actually.”

How have things changed over the past decade, I wonder?

“We haven’t changed – we’re still the same three idiots we always were,” smiles Pete.

“It’s weird, but I think the big thing for me in the last ten years is streaming. When we started people were still buying albums, but streaming has kind of given us another lease of life really. It gives everybody the opportunity to hear your songs and music.”

The lads, Roy Stride, Greg Churchouse and Pete, were in their early twenties when they were signed. Have their fans grown up with them?

“It’s weird, because when we got signed it was a real headache for our record label,” reveals Pete. “At a gig we’d have like really young teens at the front. And then in the middle you’d have your sort of late twenties and then at the back you’d have the parents who were with the kids at the front. And then there were the kids who couldn’t even come because the show was too late – or their parents just wanted to come.

“Our age range has been really, really bizarre. You sort of get the older fans who have always followed us and then you get the people now who, because we do a lot of university gigs, are like ‘I came to see you with my mum when I was 13 and now you’re playing my student ball.’

“And like again with the streaming, that has really opened us up to another sort of market of young people who are sort of now discovering us through their parents or sisters, brothers. It’s weird but incredible.”

Do they still get along after all these years?

“We were friends before we were in a band. It’s nice. And it’s really good actually to do it with people you’ve grown up,” muses Pete.

“I think it does give you longevity. I think it makes things lots easier to be in a band with people that I’ve known for 30 years nearly. Everybody knows everybody so well and if you’re miffed or whatever you can tell if, you know, you need to leave someone alone or something. It’s a quite an odd situation really – it’s like being with family really. Just not related.”

Scouting for Girls have something of a reputation for being the nicest guys in rock – in fact to celebrate their tenth anniversary the band are undertaking ten challenges to raise money and awareness for the Alzheimer’s Association. The events have included Dry January and the London Marathon. But does he have any regrets?

“Not really,” he ponders. “I would have liked to have done the Olympics opening ceremony, that would have been great. But no, I don’t think you can go through life having regrets. We never ever thought we would get signed and get to this. So, you just take every day as it comes and enjoy every moment of it.

“We’ve all had boring jobs, we’ve had really boring jobs we when kids. We were like 24/25 when we got signed and we all finished doing these horrible, boring jobs so we’re just enjoying it – still – and taking every day as it is.”

Having grown up in London, the guys are pretty familiar with Essex – and rather fond of the county too.

“We played the Pavilion a few times,” says Pete. “We did one of our first gigs in Essex for a radio station which was amazing. It’s all fond memories. It’s all great. The crowds are great, everyone’s up for a laugh in Essex  – you can’t go wrong. Plus you’re by the sea…so it’s lovely.

“We’re looking forward to being back!”

Scouting for Girls will be at the Cliffs Pavilion, Station Road, Southend, on Thursday, November 23, at 7pm. For tickets, call the box office on 01702 351135.

This feature was first published in the Echo newspaper on Wednesday, October 8, 2017:

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