To the end of the last decade, straight-faced indie bands were all the rage. The kind of guys who would sit glumly in the corner at a party. Scouting For Girls were not among them.
A band that was bucking the trend, it always seemed they would be the bouncy friends who ran around talking to everyone. The ones who were just happy to be at the party.
Catchy singalong tunes like She’s So Lovely and This Ain’t A Love Song have given the London-based band a triple platinum-selling number one album and more than two million record sales.
And now they’re heading to the south coast to perform at Portsmouth Guildhall on November 11. It’s a little different to the last time they were in the city performing at The Fat Fox pub as part of Southsea Fest.
Lead vocalist Roy Stride is driving when I call and there’s a lot of scrabbling noises as he hunts for the hands’ free kit. By the time his voice comes through the speaker, he’s apologising profusely for not being prepared.
After reassuring him that he’s got nothing to worry about, he quickly launches into a tale about his fondness for Portsmouth.
‘When we performed in Southsea it was a little acoustic performance with Wave 105, who have always been good to us. It was an intimate venue and a lot of fun,’ he explains.
‘I think it was over-18s only so it was quite an adult show in a way, especially as normally we get quite a wide range of ages coming to gigs.
‘It was almost like a question and answer session and we would play a song and then wander around talking to people.’
They were also here in 2008 not long after releasing their debut album and played to a welcoming crowd at The Wedgewood Rooms.
Roy adds: ‘It was one of our first sold-out shows and it was really fun.’
The Guildhall gig is part of a wider national tour for the greatest hits album released in July. Having played at festivals throughout the summer, and a brief tour of race course performances, they are glad to be back doing what they do best.
‘This is our first proper tour since 2010,’ explains Roy, ‘and I love being on the road. We’ve always had good times visiting Pompey in the past.’
Not that he isn’t excited about playing the Royal Albert Hall just a couple of days later.
‘I think that is probably the best venue in the world,’ adds Roy. ‘I can’t wait to play there.’
Scouting For Girls, a play on words of the 1908 Baden-Powell classic Scouting For Boys, Roy, Pete Ellard and Greg Churchouse have been playing together since they were at school.
With catchy lyrics about drooling over girls and wanting to be James Bond, they were Britain’s biggest selling band in 2008.
And the new greatest hits album, headed by single Millionaire, takes a nostalgic look back at the band’s career.
‘We are playing all the songs people want to hear and know. Some of them we’ve been playing a lot and some we haven’t.
‘We’ve also gone back to our first album and looked at the songs again. It’s fun to remind ourselves what’s there. Hopefully it will mix it up a bit.’
But how did it feel when the decision was made to release a greatest hits disc after three albums?
‘Well, we came back to the studio after the second album and the record label mentioned making one,’ says Roy.
‘It took such a long time to do, but it felt nice to be able to rehearse and get music out there. It was quite nice to keep a bit of momentum going.’
He adds: ‘When we were picking the songs for the greatest hits we put them in chronological order because it felt like a journey to us.
‘In a way some of the songs are the sound tracks to peoples’ lives.’
And his favourite of the lot is the song that brought the band their first number one in 2010, This Ain’t A Love Song. Quite right too.
‘I’ll always love it,’ he says excitedly. ‘It went to number one and that makes it special, especially because not many people get to achieve that.
‘I love the song even now and it means so much, not only on a personal level, but we’ve played it at every show for the past four years.
‘It’s part of who we are now. I listen to it and it brings back such good memories.’
And looking back over the past six years of the band’s career, from playing to just a handful of people to thousands at Wembley Arena and Glastonbury, he’s obviously proud of what they’ve achieved.
‘It’s quite emotional really,’ laughs Roy. ‘Me, Pete and Greg have been playing since we were at school and it took us 10 years to get a recording deal.
‘We’ve had the most amazing six or seven years with Scouting For Girls.
And then he drops a bit of a bombshell.
‘This may be our last tour for a long time... or ever.
‘Our last show is in Liverpool and then after that, there are no plans for Scouting For Girls,’ Roy reveals.
‘We are going to go away for a while and see what happens. It may be peoples’ last chance to see us.’
So, does that mean the end of the band? Apparently not.
‘We will always be Scouting For Girls,’ he adds, firmly.
‘But I never wanted to say we will do a tour next year, when we may not.
‘Basically we are going to go back to how we started, with the band meeting each week and playing some music together.
‘We’ll see what happens.’
‘If we play a song together and we think it’s amazing then we may release it.
‘Otherwise we are just going back to rehearsing and playing together.’