The new single's a bit of a change of direction for Sugababes. Whose idea was it?
"It was ours. We all love our soul and we wanted to go for an older sound. We had the track about two years ago - though it sounded very different then - but it didn't fit with the way the last album was going. The head of our label played the song to us again and we loved it! We changed it up, wrote our verses and added some more drums to the track and now it's perfect."
Is 'Girls' reflective of the new album?
"It's not that reflective of the album, but I wouldn't say this album is a pop album either. There's only one sort of electropoppy track on there. I'd say it's a more mature album - it's got a nice flow, it's an easy listen and there's something on there for everyone. Us three are really happy with the album and people our saying it's our best yet. It's just another chapter to who we are, I think."
There were rumours that Timbaland had worked on the album. What happened?
"Well, he approached us while we were making our last album, but we'd literally just finished it and we had no time left - that's the complete truth! I know he wanted to work with us on this album too, but again we had so little time so it just didn't work out because of timings and diaries. Maybe next year we'll make it happen. I'd absolutely love to work with him."
You've called the album Catfights and Spotlights. Why do you think the media still gets mileage out of 'There's tension in the Sugababes' rumours?
"I don't know, it really shocks me! But to be completely honest I actually thought the same thing before I joined the group. I remember Keisha saying to me, 'What do you honestly think of the group?' I was like, 'Do you want the truth mate?' I thought they were going to be horrible, I'd prepared myself to take no crap off them and I thought Keisha was going to be the worst one. I feel really guilty now because Keisha's one of the nicest girls I've ever met."
So everything was OK at the Fashion For Relief event last month?
"We had the best night ever! Heidi lost her shoes but, y'know, s**t happens and we laughed our a***s off. The next day I read in the paper that Heidi was sitting on the floor crying, me and Keisha were having a scrap and I was pushing them both out the way so I could get to the front. It really wound me up and put me on a downer. I actually rang up the paper, which is something I never normally do, and had a go at the person who wrote it. I said, 'You're a liar!' and the journalist kept apologising."
Did you expect that sort of thing when you joined the group?
"Well, I remember the girls tried to prepare me for what the tabloids were like. They said, 'Don't say too much because they'll exaggerate everything', but until it happened to me I didn't really understand. That was the biggest thing for me to get used to after I joined the group. I still haven't got used to it really."
As I understand it, you originally planned to take the rest of this year off. What changed your minds?
"That's absolutely right, but the single changed our minds - it was so good it made us want to make an album this year. We went into the studio with Klas Ahlund, who wrote all of Robyn's album and Britney's 'Piece Of Me', and in the first two days of writing with him we got two singles. We were on a roll, so we thought, 'Let's make another album now'. We only had two months to make it and we had lots of phone calls from the label saying: 'You've got to write right now! There's no time for writer's block!' but we got there in the end."
Will you be taking a break next year?
"Yes, we will! We're going to have two months completely off, and then take about a year to make the next album with no pressure. Personally I work best like that, so I'm really looking forward to it."
'Girls' by Sugababes is out now. The album, Catfights and Spotlights, follows on October 20.