WHAT’S a handful of producers between friends? Or 10 different studios for that matter.
Happy popsters Scouting For Girls clocked up a few Air Miles in honing their ‘difficult’ third album. But part of that, it has to be said, was of their own making.
For starters, amiable frontman Roy Stride and chums went down the concept album route when starting on what was to become The Light Between Us, out this week.
“We started thinking, well, not so much a concept and more a bit like a musical,” says the singer.
“We were going to get a spoken word thing in between each song which tells this story. The songs would be good enough as a stand alone album but we’d have something that draws everything in.
“Basically, it’s just really bloody hard, the songs were rubbish, and it was quite a difficult thing to sell to people. so we decided to write an album of singles instead. We just knuckled down to writing really good songs, but I’m definitely going to do it as some point.”
Still with a thirst to move on from their previous albums – and satisfy a label that liked Roy, Greg Churchouse and Peter Ellard shifting two millions copies – the She’s So Lovely stars embarked on a two-year journey that took them to five producers in 10 studios either side of the Atlantic.
“Because we’d been away for a while we knew if we didn’t come back with something really good...well, you’ve got to come back with something better than you’ve done before and different, otherwise there’s no point in someone buying a new SFG album.
“And I think we’ve surprised people with this record. It’s a good record, a band record, it starts from where we started with This Ain’t A Love Song, a big-sounding record.”
And major record labels like big. Being signed to one is a bit like owning a greedy, pedigree dog – the more food you give the more it craves – and soon it’ll be wanting steak over Winalot.
“It definitely has its pros and cons and one of the problems for this record was it got delayed so much, partly because different things were going on at the label. At the same time you do get all the experience and the people helping you on the way.”
Not surprisingly, perhaps, while the new record has a fair share of trademark poppy love songs the over-riding theme seems to be one of endurance, overcoming life’s hurdles.
“We didn’t realise it until quite late in the recording process, when I was going through all the lyrics.
“It is about trying to make a relationship work or trying not to give up on one or if one is over believing in yourself and trying to carry on – some songs are just about believing in yourself – that stems from the uncertainty we had while making this album and whether it was ever going to get finished or put out.”
In reality Roy is happily married, but admits he has heartbreak on his personal CV.
“I just find it a really interesting perspective. I can write from there because, like everyone, I’ve been through good times and bad with relationships. You can always draw on those experiences and I find it a creative place.
“But I feel very lucky with everything I’ve got now. I’m happy with the band and have got a happy, settled family.”
He’s also been exercising his pop muscles in recent times writing for the likes of One Direction and Alexandra Burke having initially been asked to write a song by the X Factor team for another winner, Joe McElderry.
“They loved the song, but they chose the other one, more fool them,” quips Roy. “But I built up a relationship through that and when I get time I sometimes sit down and think about writing songs for, or work with, other people. I just really love writing and being in the studio.
“And it’s quite nice writing a song for someone else. It gives you more freedom in some ways, in what you can say, things I could not get away with in SFG, or I couldn’t sing.
“We have to carry on putting out music that has a bit of thought and cleverness which you don’t need in all pop music, but sometimes you can write some really obvious, fun lyrics, for different artists.”
Current single Summertime In The City kind of sums up the demeanour of SFG though, but is by no means indicative of the album. Roy agrees there was a danger of it lacking continuity in having been honed in so many places by so many hands.
“That was what we were most concerned about. But when me and Greg sing over it, it makes it sound like a SFG record. Also the way we play; none of us have been classically trained. I play piano and guitar in a way no one else really plays. It works, but it’s not how you are ever taught.
“And I do quite like the fact there is a difference in some of the tracks. They come together but there were different producers and I like that you can hear that. This album has got something extra, it feels alive in a way because it’s been to all these different places. It feels like you can get more from it, you come on the journey we’ve been on the last two years.”
Talking of which, now they are older, wiser and more settled, do they ever feel slightly awkward with the band name? Anyone who doesn’t know them might think they’re kids out sniffing for totty.
“We were,” laughs Roy, whose dad still lives in Sheffield having recently retired from the Department Of Work & Pensions.
“It’s got to a point where the band name is the band name.
“It’s confusing in Japan when we have to explain and they don’t have the language, or Scouts.
“But, generally, the band is bigger than the name now.
“People almost don’t even think about it; like The Killers – you just think of a song and associate it with them.
“Sometimes I do wonder if we’d have been better off having a different name like Carrot or something, but I think it really worked for us when we started.”
SFG play The Big Gig, a Girl Guide event, at Motorpoint Arena, Octo-ber 6.