Prime Circle

Prime Circle: On top of the world

“I think we’ve got a bit of an addiction for the road,” admits Ross Learmonth from, somewhat fittingly, a tour stop. “We’ve toured so much in the past it’s just something that’s now part of our lives.”

So, even after 15 years, Prime Circle show no signs of letting up. If anything, the band are busier than ever, with their efforts to crack Europe now really starting to pay off.

“About five years ago, we had to ask ourselves: ‘Do we still have that love for music to start all over again?’” remembers Learmonth of the decision to look beyond the South African rock scene they’d dominated for a decade. “And we’ve definitely answered that question by carrying on coming back.”

So do the fans, in increasing numbers, and with increasing volume.

“It was incredible the first time people started singing along in another country,” recalls the frontman. “We’ve been a band for a very long time and we’ve had a lot of ups, downs, and difficulties, so it was just a beautiful thing to see that finally we were getting somewhere after working so hard at it.”

German audiences, in particular, have connected with their stadium-sized anthems leading to a series of summer festival appearances on the back of their first official European release, ‘Let The Light In – Deluxe Edition’.

Featuring the new single ‘Ghosts’, the album is a leap forward for Learmonth, drummer Dale Schnettler, guitarist Dirk Bisschoff, bassist Marco Gomes, and keyboard player Neil Breytenbach.

“We’re still trying to write songs that people can relate to and sing with. Biffy Clyro is definitely one of the bands we look up to in terms of how they fill stadiums,” says Learmonth, “but I think now we’re also trying to write stuff that has got a real feeling to it.”

And musically they’re looking beyond the rock anthems that initially made their name.

“The older we’ve gotten, the more open-minded we’ve become, which is really, really cool,” elaborates.the singer and guitarist. “I think before we were very closed off and we had a couple of tricks that we could play on and that was about it. But we reached a time in our lives where we needed to do something different, we needed to not repeat ourselves.”

The result is not just a more adventurous album, but a more balanced live show.

“The new songs are a very welcome addition to the setlist – they’re the extra colouring we needed,” reveals Learmonth. “It’s not just one relentless sound throughout the whole show, it’s constantly changing.”

Also changing, with experience, are the band members themselves.

“I think we’ve become a little more relaxed on stage. We used to rush things and really stress ourselves out about stuff that was out of our control,” says Learmonth. “Now it feels like a natural flow, whereas in the past we’d push too fast. We’d try impress people based on heavying up songs that shouldn’t have been heavied up.

“I think we feel more comfortable in our own shoes and taking our time on stage and owning that space.”

And they’ll be doing just that when they hit Islington Academy on 1 April 2017.

“We’re very excited about it – we want to be in London a lot more,” confesses the singer. “The last time we were there, we played Dingwalls and it was a dream of ours to play in Camden. We’d grown up listening to a lot of bands that had started from there, so it was really really amazing for us to sell out the venue.

“But that was the good news,” he laughs, “and then we realised how London operates. We were kicked out of the venue very quickly afterwards because they have to shut down so fast. In South Africa we’re not used to those curfews, so that’s a culture shock for us: ‘It’s 11 o’clock, get your drum set on the street’,” he grins at the memory.

New memories will no doubt be made when Prime Circle return next year.

“Every time we’re in Europe, we want to be able to come back and do bigger and bigger things all the time. So we feel that ‘Let The Night In’, with some of the older songs sprinkled in, is going to be great for this show,” promises Learmonth.

“There’s a lot of high energy, and rises and falls in the music, so we’re really hoping to kick this one in the teeth.”

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