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#MusicExchange: Prime Circle, rocking since 2001

Prime Circle is regarded as South African rock royalty with numerous awards, six studio albums which have achieved multi-platinum status, several chart-topping singles and sold-out tours to its name.
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Image supplied

Known as one of the most loved bands in the country, the group is also recognised on the international stage and has management in Germany. In the past few years, Prime Circle has made strong inroads into the UK and European markets, gigging intensively and being playlisted on radio and headlining major rock festivals.

Since its formation in 2001, Prime Circle has demonstrated unmatched staying power with a dynamic sound that continues to evolve.

I caught up with the band ahead of their show on Sunday, 12 February 2023 at De Waal Park in Cape Town.

What is your purpose?

Our purpose has always been to play live and connect with people. We are road dogs through and through, traveling and playing all around the world has been our privilege and dream.

What does music mean to you?

Music is our way of life. Some of us are in studio all the time, some are plotting the next show and festival and others are writing songs all the time. It’s something that has chosen us.

Our music is about...

Prime Circle's music has always been about trying to bridge the gap between life and song; to celebrate; motivate or commiserate with the world we live in. Having a connection with a story place or people is the true meaning to music.

What is your motto?

Live this life every day!!!

Fame is about...

Being able to do what you love as your job. Fame is a by-product of hard work and passion.

Retirement will happen when...

We are dead, and even then we hope our music will still be around for years to come.

I don't do…

We don’t do helicopters, we’ve had to in the past and our lead singer Ross is terrified of flying.

I would love to co-write with…

Paramore, Kings of Leon, Bothing but Thieves.

Where do you go for inspiration to create?

We have written a lot of music on the road, either at a sound check or if we book a space where ever we are in the world. A lot of our previous album was written in Nuremberg in a rehearsal space before a tour and in Benoni at B# studios, so all over the place. You never know when inspiration will hit.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of your work?

We love to tour, to get on a big tour with a bunch of dates all over the place and go and experience all the venues and people out there. Seeing how our music has effected people, seeing the crowds having a good time to our music and connecting with us is the best feeling.

The song you must do during every show?

Ghost. It’s a powerful song in that it’s about overcoming depression and changing the internal dialogue we have with ourselves. It’s a song that’s help us a lot and helped others. We can’t play a show without it.

Any funny moments on stage?

From drummers falling off stage, to split pants and showing your whole ass to the crowd, dropping guitars forgetting words (yes, it happens) and stage dives gone wrong.

My heroes are...

Our heroes are, and yes maybe corny, but our families. It’s not easy to be with full-time musicians, always travelling and being at parties and traveling around the world. Having to hold the fort and look after the kids and responsibilities, our families are our pillars and we would not be anything without them.

Which living person do you admire most and why?

We are all fans of a good friend of ours JP Nobrega. He is a local hero. One day on the radio he heard about the stats of abuse against women, drug abuse and addiction and he decided to do something about it. He went and sold a lot of his personal possessions and started the RADA foundation, a truly amazing charity that has since grown so much and helped a lot of people. He's a man of his word that built something to help others.

What is your most treasured possession?

Our most prized possessions must be our touring rig, our tools of the trade. It’s taken us years to collect the guitar gems and amps etc that we have, and to find the right balance of equipment to make our sound. That and a toaster in the night liner; always a good idea at 3 in the morning when everyone needs a triple decker ham and cheese.

Dream gig to do?

We would love to play Glastonbury. It's always been a dream of ours.

What makes you stand out?

Our songs are our calling card. That’s all we can say. It’s the thing we hope that people remember the most about us.

Any nicknames?

Milkshake Mike, Orbit and Norbit, Cheeky. It’s constantly changing with us. We are always taking the piss out of each other. There have been hundreds over the years.

If you were not musicians, what would you do?

Construction, businessman, surfer, builder, night club owner. We all had other things going on when we started and it's hard to think where we would be as a 9-5 was always hard for us.

Pick five words to describe yourself?

Loud, constant, complicated, funny, traveller.

Five must have songs on your Spotify playlist please

Fleetwood Mac - Go your own way
Queen - Crazy little thing
Gnarls Barkley - Crazy
Oasis - Don’t look back in anger
Marvin Gaye - Heard it through the grapevine

Image supplied
Image supplied

Your greatest achievement?

We still always mention playing the 46664 concert and meeting President Nelson Mandela. A truly a moment we will never forget!

Happiness is…

Playing a new song and hearing people sing it back.

On stage, I tend to…

We all have our own things on stage. Dale is an amazing drummer to watch, always standing up and playing and getting into it. Dirk and Marco are always a solid sound on stage. Dirk is the most consistent player and Marco is a true fan of bass tones and effects. Neil is an amazing pianist and mood setter always head banging and giving it all. Ross always digs deep to bring the stories to life and when we get together that’s what makes Prime Circle sound the way it does

The best life lesson you have learned?

Be grateful for what you have and try to be present even when things are hard.

What has been your favourite journey so far?

We toured India a few years ago. It was a 1000 stories in two weeks. So much happened in such a little time and we got to see the entire country, what a place!

Wishes and dreams?

We hope to continue to bring out music that people can connect with and feel, to keep travelling and experiencing all we can in this crazy life of touring. See you on the road.

About Martin Myers

Co-owner at Triple M Entertainment, founder Music Exchange, manager Sipho Hotstix Mabuse

Let's do Biz