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Sorry for the late notice… but hurry if you want to catch Scouting for Girls’ top secret performance at the Christmas lights

Peter Ellard, Roy Stride and Greg Churchhouse of Scouting for Girls with mayor Margaret RosePeter Ellard, Roy Stride and Greg Churchhouse of Scouting for Girls with mayor Margaret RoseChart-toppers Scouting for Girls are due to make a surprise appearance at Marlborough’s Christmas Lights switch-on this evening (Friday).

The band are due to take the stage at 6.40pm. Marlborough News Online and other media outlets have been sworn to secrecy, following crowd control concerns from the police.

So if you read this in time, get your skates on!

The band are due to perform their new single, Christmas in the Air (Tonight) – which was released today – ahead of the switching-on of the Christmas lights at 7pm.

Earlier today, Marlborough News Online was granted an audience with lead singer and songwriter Roy Stride, who described Marlborough as ‘one of the prettiest towns in England’. You can read the full interview below.

Marlborough’s mayor, Margaret Rose, said: “I’m delighted that Scouting for Girls will be joining us on stage and giving us a preview of their Christmas single.

“It’s a fantastic surprise for Marlborough and adds to what’s bound to be an amazing night for everyone. It’s great for our town and perhaps we’ll even help them to climb to that No.1 spot!”

Scouting for Girls hit the big time in 2007 with a string of Top 20 singles. It’s Not About You reached number 17 in June, followed by She’s So Lovely (number 7) in August and Elvis Ain’t Dead (number 8) in December.

Their debut album, Scouting for Girls, was released in September of the same year and hit the number 1 spot in the album charts on January 20, where it spent two weeks before being knocked from the perch by Adele’s debut album, 19.

The band are no strangers to Marlborough, having played live sets at Azuza, in conjunction with record shop Sound Knowledge, a record-breaking five times.

Their last appearance was in October, ahead of the release of their fifth album, Still Thinking About You, from which the track Christmas in the Air (Tonight) is taken. The track can also be found on the band's festive EP, released today.


SFG singer Roy Strong on why Marlborough makes the perfect backdrop for the band’s Christmas video

Scouting for Girls were in Marlborough today, shooting a promo video for their new single, Christmas in the Air (Tonight).

The song – which forms part of a five-track festive EP – was released today, and the band felt that Marlborough’s Christmas lights switch-on would make the perfect backdrop for the promotional video.

“The stars aligned,” Roy told Marlborough News Online. “We were thinking about our Christmas video, and heard that the Christmas lights were being switched on not far from where we are playing tonight (the band have to hot-foot it to the O2 Academy in Oxford straight after their Marlborough appearance).”

Roy had particularly kind words for the town’s independent record store Sound Knowledge, which has now hosted the band for five public appearance and signing sessions. “There are so few great record shops like Sound Knowledge; we have to support them.

“We’ve played here more than most places – it almost feels like home. Marlborough is always the best: more people come and see us than anywhere else.”

The video – which the band hope will be ready in time for their online advent calendar on December 1 – will feature Roy, guitarist Peter Ellard and drummer Greg Churchhouse busking in Marlborough High Street, and browsing the stalls at the Christmas market.

The single, said Roy, is set “on a night like tonight; it’s an honest Christmas song,” based on real events in the band’s home town of Ruislip 20 years ago.

“The high street’s closed to all the traffic,” sings Roy. “I kissed you under the Christmas lights, it was the best night of my life.”

The bookies are giving 33-1 on the single going to Christmas number 1. It’s far from a dead cert, but if it did hit the top spot, Roy said he’d spend the royalties buying The Swan pub in Ruislip – which gets a namecheck in the song as the place where Roy and his friends meet for a beer. “It’s a Cafe Rouge now,” he said mournfully. “I’d like to buy it; turn it back into a pub.”

Roy told MNO he was really looking forward to the secret gig. “I love this town. It will be nice to give the people a surprise like this.”


What else did we learn?

Roy recently purchased a record deck and is buying his favourite albums on vinyl. But he doesn’t have an amp yet, so he can’t hear the records he owns.

Nevertheless, he was hoping to find time to pop into Sound Knowledge, which has an extensive vinyl section.

Top of his shopping list was the new album by Adele, 25, which was released today. He was unaware, until MNO told him, that it was Adele that had knocked his debut album from the number one spot back in 2008 with her debut, 19.

He’s not bitter though: “We spent 10 years trying to get a record deal. We were so delighted to have a number one album.”

The band try to tour each album around Christmas, because of the general atmosphere. “We’ve worked out what our fans like: our gigs are just like a party.”

He treats touring like a holiday. “You wake up on the tour bus in a different town. I like to get out, try the local cider or beer; visit a gallery or a museum.”

Marlborough isn’t the band’s first Christmas lights event this year – they switched on the lights in Manchester two weeks ago, in front of a crowd of 20,000.

Roy’s not scouting for girls anymore. He’s settled down with two children, aged five and six.

But he’d never change the band name (based on the 1908 book Scouting for Boys by Scouts founder Robert Baden-Powell) despite the trouble it gives them in Japan, where the Scouting movement doesn’t have a foothold, so the subtleties of the name are lost on fans.

Getting a Christmas number 1 would be part of the ‘holy trinity’ for the band. The other two elements are winning an Ivor Novello Award for songwriting (they’ve been nominated, but never won), and winning the Eurovision Song Contest for the UK. “Anyone who can bring the Eurovision title back to the UK is the best songwriter going,” says Roy.


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