Podcast - Ep. 9: The Alarm - Mike Peters Interview
36 years after The Alarm's "Sixty Eight Guns" reached number 17 on the U.K. Singles Chart, Mike Peters, frontman, is still celebrating milestones. Earlier this year, the Welsh rocker was awarded an MBE by the sovereign of the United Kingdom for his commitment to cancer care.
He and the group released their latest album this June, "Sigma," of which The Killers are fans. (They even asked Peters to sign a copy for them when they played in Wales.)
During the show, The Killers paid tribute to The Alarm, covering 1987's "Rain in the Summertime," which reached number 18 in the U.K in the late '80s.
"I went to the show, but I had no idea they were gonna play "Rain in the Summertime." When it hit, it was a compete shock," he said. "[The story] caused a massive stir on the internet, and lots of their fans now, as a result, have been checking out The Alarm."
In 2004, the same year The Killers released their seminal album "Hot Fuss," The Alarm released the single "45 RPM." It closely rivaled the success of their earlier U.K. hits, but they didn't take credit for the song initially. Given its pop-punk feel, they thought "45 RPM" would be more successful if listeners believed it was by a newer, younger band. The approach worked. Before the public knew it was truly The Alarm, it was already climbing the charts.
A year later, Peters received some difficult news.
"In 2005, when I relapsed and was going through a pretty hellish ordeal involving the leukapheresis, and I was sort of slipping out of consciousness from the shock," he said. "My wife, Jules, had brought my iPod, and put some speakers in, just to try and distract me, and the first song that came up was "In a Big Country" and [the lyric] "Stay Alive."
The message from his late friend, singer and guitarist Stuart Adamdson, served as an encouragement to fight on.
"I felt like he was really singing that word to me in that moment, and it made me really focus on not slippin' out, and just try to stay conscious to deal with what was happening. So I'm very grateful for that song."
Back in the early '80s, The Alarm, Big Country and U2 bonded over their Celtic roots.
"We had a connection. I think the fact that we came from Wales, Scotland and Ireland ... we had a commonality between us that brought us together, not just as musicians, but as friends as well."
"We met U2 in 1981 on their last night on their "October" tour. And Bono came up to me on the soundcheck, and he was very intrigued by my acoustic guitar, because it had pickups in it, and he was really interested in harmonica. He wanted to know how you played those, so he invited me back to the hotel that night, and I showed him some chords, 'cause he couldn't really play the guitar at that time either."
It was Bono who introduced Peters and Adamson. The two would become close in the years to come. And following the dissolution of Big Country in 2000 and Adamson's 2001 death, the band reformed with Peters at the helm from 2010 to 2013. He has also been a part of the bands Coloursound, with Billy Duffy of The Cult, and Dead Men Walking, a British supergroup.
During his busy rock and roll career, Peters took the time to co-found the organization Love Hope Strength "as a way of helping others" with cancer and leukemia.
"When I was diagnosed the first time, the internet was young ... the bad news was all at the surface ... so we thought Love Hope Strength was a great way to tell good stories [about those] who have survived and had good experiences with the outcomes that people hope for when they're faced with cancer."
Photo by Stuart Ling