Steps EXCLUSIVE: We'll ask Abba to join us on stage

Cargo pants, dial-up internet and freaking out about the Millennium bug are a few things we are ohhhh-so-glad will forever remain in the last century.

Legendary pop group Steps, on the other hand, is like the gift from 1999 that keeps on giving.

The ‘5, 6, 7, 8’ hitmakers are back with a brand new album called ‘Tears On The Dancefloor’ and tour to celebrate surviving 20 years in the music business.

It seems their loyal fans are absolutely ravenous for their subscription of cheesy – but delicious – pop music and if you don’t believe us, proof landed on our desks on Friday when their first single from the record, ‘Scared of The Dark’, knocked pop superstar Ed Sheeran’s track ‘Galway Girl’ off the No 1 spot on the iTunes Chart. Impressed yet?

AND, they’ve been forced to add five more dates to their sell-out tour due to high demand.

Put that in your pipes and smoke it, haters!

(Photo: Steps Official)

So how do Lisa Scott-Lee, Faye Tozer, Claire Richards, Lee Latchford-Evans and Ian ‘H’ Watkins feel about their huge win?

“The lot of us are massive fans of Ed so we didn’t expect that. We love Ed Sheeran! It’s amazing, we didn’t have any expectations, so to go in at number one in the iTunes charts is incredible. It’s so nice to hear it from the fans, especially on social media,” Lisa told us during our sit down chat with the band on Monday.

The buzzing pop stars opened up to us about their big return, beating Ed Sheeran in the charts, loving the Little Mix girls and, of course, what it was like working with pop messiahs Abba – oh yes – and getting their seal of approval.

Steps admitted to us that they were, once upon a time, branded ‘Abba on speed’ by their manager Pete Waterman and it’s now a fitting tribute that their fifth studio album – due to be released on April 21 – will feature a writing credit from the icons.

The song was penned by Abba’s Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus and passed over to Steps, who were absolutely delighted to work with their idols.

Lee revealed: “It was a track that they had, Benny did it with an orchestra… We’re not blasting an Abba track that everyone knows. They let us put the Steps stamp on it. It turned out really nice, we sent it back to Benny, he got back to us and said he loves it, loves the sound, he said, ‘it’s almost as good as mine!’

“We’re aiming it for the Radio 2 listener.”

Abba’s Anni-frid Lyngstad, Benny Andersson, Bjorn Ulvaaus, Agnetha Faltskog in 1970. (Photo: WENN)

Claire added: “Actually I think they had a similar reaction as we did, it was only after 10 or 20 years that the nostalgia kicked in for Abba. They weren’t seen so seriously when they started out and they used to wear interesting costumes. They were slightly different because obviously Benny and Bjorn wrote everything and they were amazing songs and were married to each other.”

Would they like Abba to join them on stage? Absolutely!

“We’ll ask them to join us for sure,” Lisa told us.

Lisa, H, Claire, Lee and Faye are back together again (ITV)

But, who in the charts inspires them these days? Steps are hard to impress. However, they adore pop princesses Little Mix. Yay! And showered praise on the girls – comprised of Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, Jade Thirlwall, Leigh-Anne Pinnock – for sticking to traditional pop rules like donning matching stage costumes and peforming killer dance routines.

“We really like Little Mix! We love them, we genuinely do,” Lisa tells us.

Little Mix stick to traditional pop band rules like matching their outfits and dancing on stage (Getty Images)

“I think it’s nice they are a band that dress up together and dance, because we’re of a time that did do that. I never really understood bands, you know like The Wanted. They were one of the first ones who stood there and just sang even on an up tempo song. But we love Little Mix. It’s great to see a pop band like that put in the effort,” Claire added.

Their victory at the Brits last month – when they scooped the Best Single prize for their 2016 hit ‘Shout Out To My Ex’ – didn’t go unnoticed by Steps, who think the accolade was long overdue.

“It’s great to see a pop band on the Brits! You never see that and it’s wrong,” H pointed out.

Prince Charles (centre) meets Steps after they performed on stage during the Party in the Park in aid of The Princes Trust in Hyde Park.

“We’d love to go on it and it be a big (up yours) to the haters. We’ve always gone against the grain and when people were putting us down, we always came back stronger. All the cool kids were dissing us, and then we sold more records than them. A record company can promote a cool band all they like but the public will decide.”

Backing him up, Claire dished: “Well, Belle and Sebastian are living proof of that!!”

Ooft. What IS their beef with the Scottish indie band?

Pop band Steps (l-r) Lee Latchford-Evans, Claire Richards, Faye Tozer, Ian Watkins (H) and Lisa Scott-Lee collecting their award for Best Selling British Live Act, during the Brit Awards 2000 ceremony, held at Earls Court in west London. (PA)

We probe further, and before H could stop her, Claire revealed that Steps’ crown for Best Newcomer was snatched away from them at the Brit Awards in 1999 by Belle and Sebastian.

She explained: “Years ago we were up for an award, Best Newcomer or something, and it was one of the very first online votes, and all week we were winning it, and then it came to the night all of the pop bands, us, B*Witched, Five, we were all backstage waiting to perform and then Belle and Sebastian came on and nobody knew who they were! The audience went silent.”

H added: “But Pete asked for a recount, he kicked off didn’t he.”

As far as we know, the recount never happened and Steps missed out on the prestigous Brit and instead, they took home Best Live Act that year.

But, by the sounds of it, they’re on track to storm the Brits next year. Could they bag the ceremony’s Icon award and follow in the footseps of Sir Elton John and Robbie Williams, perhaps?

Let’s make it happen!

Steps’ new single ‘Scared of the Dark’ is out now and their tour kicks off on November 12 in Belfast, Northern Ireland.