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Coming full circle in Dubai

05/13/2009 11:04 PM | By Eduan Maggo, Staff Writer

The hit makers Prime Circle are heading to Dubai again, and singer Ross Learmonth tells Eduan Maggo they'll give it all or nothing.

Prime Circle just can't seem to get enough of Dubai.

The South African rockers have staked their claim and are back to give Dubai what it needs.

With their rock ballads, the band has been a permanent fixture on the airwaves since the release of their first album, Hello Crazy World in 2003.

The album, according to reports is still the highest selling rock album of all time in South Africa and spawned major hits, including Hello, As Long As I Am Here, Crazy World, My Inspiration and Let Me Go. Prime Circle also opened for Live during their Birds of Prey tour to South Africa.

The band then released Live This Life in 2005, and went on to perform at one of Nelson Mandela's 46664 concerts, alongside acts like Annie Lennox, India Arie and Katie Melua.

Their third album, All or Nothing, was nominated for two South African Music Awards - for Best Rock Album and Song Of The Year.

Recently coming off a tour of more than 20 gigs in a month, the band was due to perform in Bahrain last night and is all set to give Dubai their all tomorrow night.

So, you're coming to Dubai again?

Yeah, we're looking forward to rocking Dubai. We've been there before. This'll be our third time out.

It's always nice to gig in foreign countries and cities. It's quite something to connect with the expats and to see new faces.

This time we'll be staying for about a week. We're looking forward to relaxing and doing some sight-seeing. I also want to check out Wild Wadi and go sand-boarding.

And we want to experience the desert at night. I imagine the sky at night must be quite something.

You played one of your gigs here at Desert Rock...

Yes. That was an amazing experience. It was epic; great bands, an awesome venue.

Plus, the fact that it was on my birthday just made it extra special.

That was just over a year ago. What's changed for you?

As a band, we're in a better place than we were then. The band is more focused, more positive. It's almost like an arrowhead - we're more streamlined.

Let's see... there are new faces, a new album, new songs. We've got a new drummer, and we've added keyboards.

All in all, we enjoy the music more - making it and playing it.

For your latest album, All or Nothing, you worked with producer Theo Crous, a legend in his own right. How did he contribute to this album?

Theo's a pretty cool guy. But has his head in the clouds a lot of the time, which can be frustrating, especially if you're trying to speak to him.

That said, he delivers the goods. He brings out the product. Basically, he provided this album with all the elements it needed.

We worked on this album for about three years; spent six months in the studio. We're pretty happy with the result.

How do you go about writing your songs, time after time coming up with critically acclaimed tunes that also appeal to audiences?

We'll all work on lyrics, as a band we figure out the music. We start out with basic ideas - a skeleton, if you like. Then we'll sit down and start strumming, see what comes out. We always try to capture the moment when writing songs.

You've recently been signed to a major music label, EMI. How has this new avenue changed what you do and how you do it?

We're playing in a bigger league now. It's opened up doors for us, especially internationally.

It's cool, because we now get our CDs at the top of the pile, we have more people downloading our tracks. We get to reach more people.

Rumour has it that one of the tracks off this album, All for the Birds, has been with you for a while...

This was one of the tracks I auditioned for the band with, like eight and a half years ago. They weren't called Prime Circle back then. The other one was Hello.

And it's still relevant to you after all these years?

Yes, it's kind of ironic that I can still relate to it. I can relate it to multiple relationships.

The song's about the end of a relationship. Sometimes an end that never quite happens.

It has evolved musically, though. It's more structured now. Maybe even better.

She Always Gets What She Wants has an interesting title...

(Laughs) Yeah, the ladies just love that song. I mean, don't women always strive to get just that?

You have to take it with a pinch of salt, though.

Girls are driven; they chase their goals. But it can lead to heartbreak...

Does this mean you're a softie?

Oh, yeah. (laughs)

There's also an interplay between the two songs - Gets What She Wants can act as a prelude to Birds. But not in the negative sense, more positive. Always giving in can lead to heartache. But - then again- relationships happen, these things happen.

If that's the case, what's behind All I Need?

Different things. All the things we need to get us through the day. It's the energy you need, for your work, for your life, for your relationships.

The track What I've Become contains the lines "I've become my worst enemy/ My worst enemy is me". That's some hectic stuff.

Actually, this is a positive track. The reality is that you don't always realise what you've become.

You put in everything and work hard to reach the top. And then you reach for the next tier. And the next. And the next. You're so busy chasing after your dreams that you never take the time or allow yourself to enjoy what you've achieved, what you've become.

In that case you're never fulfilled.

Prime Circle's critical and commercial success is continually building. Could it thus be said the band is its own worst enemy?

Well, as a band we are too hard on each other and on the songs. But we're happy for the success. After our third album and playing for many years, we still enjoy making music.

At the same time, we try to realise where we're at as much as possible, while pursuing new things and exploring new territories.

We're consistently shifting our boundaries. But we're also happy with the space we're in.

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