Scouting For Girls frontman Roy Stride quit drinking alcohol after boozy tours with the band left him battling panic attacks.
The singer – who, along with Greg Churchouse and Pete Ellard, scored hits like She’s So Lovely, Elvis Ain’t Dead and This Ain’t A Love Song – earned a reputation for his love of ale, but things came to a head two years ago when he began to struggle.
It started in lockdown. “I went completely off the rails at the beginning and then I stopped drinking for a couple of months, got really fit, lost loads of weight and got into the best shape I’ve ever been,” he tells RETROPOP’s November issue. “I started drinking again at the end of lockdown and then we went on tour, but because we had 18 months of gigs to fit in, we were on the road for about three months, which is the longest we’ve ever done.”
Being away from home and travelling across the country saw his indulgent ways creep back in. “Being in this band is essentially like being on a stag do with your best mates from school, where you pretty much have unlimited money, unlimited time, no rules, tour managers who look after you – and all the booze is completely free,” he reflects. “As the pop star, everybody laughs at your jokes, everybody thinks you’re fucking brilliant and says you’re amazing, so I was really looking forward to getting back out there. The first couple of weeks were good, but after 3, 4, 5, 6 weeks, it really went downhill…”
As their schedule grew increasingly packed, Roy found himself struggling with anxiety and panic attacks: “I was scared to go on stage because I started feeling terrible and the only thing that made me feel better was drinking. So I ended up drinking earlier in the day.
“I used to joke that this would be a great job if we didn’t have to do the gigs,” he admits, with the rock and roll of life on the road taking preference over the music for some time. But after finally kicking the habit, Roy insists the band is back to its best and “all about the music”.
“I was worried when I stopped drinking and I didn’t know if I’d even be able to play live anymore, or whether I’d still enjoy it, but it’s actually come back stronger and I love it more than ever,” he smiles, insisting the results are clear in their new music too. “Pete was listening to a demo that I’d done the other day and he said, ‘Fucking hell Roy, I wish you’d given up drinking ages ago. This is so good!’ So yeah, it’s been a real gift, actually.”
With so much success behind them, the group has experienced the highs and lows of life in the industry, but as they embark upon their seventh album, ‘The Place We Used To Meet’, Roy maintains the boys are at the top of their game and living in the here and now. “We’ve done over a thousand gigs as Scouting For Girls and the only ones you remember is when something catastrophic goes wrong. The ones where you play amazingly and the crowd is there in the palm of your hand, you never remember them – it’s only when you fall off the stage or you can’t hear yourself in front of 60,000 people in a stadium,” he laughs.
“But yeah, it’s been a journey and now I just love every aspect of it. So I really try to live in the moment, rather than back too much or worry about what’s coming…”
Read the full interview in the October 2023 edition of RETROPOP, out now. Order yours or subscribe via our Online Store, use our Store Finder to locate your nearest stockist, or get Digital Copies delivered direct to your devices.