The Alarm’s Mike Peters Talks About Love, Hope, Strength and more
A this year’s Van’s Warped Tour Lineup announcement, I was fortunate to bump into legendary front man Mike Peters, of The Alarm. The Welsh rocker is a fantastically caring person as you’ll discover in the interview below. His participation in this summer-long tour across the US serves two purposes. It’s a way to introduce a new generation to the music of The Alarm and more importantly to Peters, it’s a chance to save lives.
Read more about my experience at the kickoff event here: Mike Peters at VWT.
The only thing bigger than Peters’ smile is his heart. He’s an engaging and charismatic person who greeted me like an old friend. As you’ll see in the interview, he’s a courageous and caring soul who focuses his life on helping others.
Love Hope Strength
We’ve been on certain Van’s Warped Tour shows in the past. Not as many as we’d like to have been on, but they’ve been very effective. Our donor drives at the concerts have been very effective in getting people onto the bone marrow list and we found 30 direct matches which has saved actual lives. We hope that with us on the tour this year – with the band and the organization, it will be even more effective. We think with joining the Van’s Warped Tour, we can join forces and save even more lives.
(Visit the Foundation and learn more about becoming a life saving donor: Love Hope Strength Foundation)
Playing to a Younger Generation at Warped Tour
(Smiling)I’m a punk rocker who started in 1976, I saw the Sex Pistols and had a band that played with The Clash and The Buzzcocks. Here I am forty years later.
My first gig was with The Clash in 1977 in Liverpool and here in 2017 we are playing this big tour across America and engaging so many new people. As Kevin Lyman said, ‘you only get old when you look in the mirror.’ And still see a kid punk rocker and hopefully that comes across in The Alarm’s music. I have a lot to live for. I’m a two-time cancer survivor and I still have to fight for my life every day with a positive mental attitude.
The Camo Jacket
I wear my camo jacket as a defense mechanism. I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 1995 and I bought this jacket in America because I was supposed to have a bone marrow transplant but I didn’t want to stop the tour. So, I got it on tour and thought “I’m going to wear this jacket until I’m cured,” and I still wear it to this day because I have an incurable form of cancer. It’s controllable. It wasn’t at one time, but it is now. I’m the beneficiary of a lot of advances.
There’s a film coming out this summer about myself, The Alarm and our charity, Love Hope Strength Foundation. The film is called Man In The Camo Jacket and it comes out this summer.
Check out the Trailer here: Man In The Camo Jacket.
I have a limited-edition album coming out on Record Store Day on April 22nd with a brand new song that kicks off the soundtrack. We have two new albums coming out this year, one on May 5th and one in September, so there’s a lot happening.
The Alarm or Mike Peters?
I record under all of the banners. I’m known as Mike Peters, as The Alarm and Love Hope Strength. I try to defy being categorized. The Alarm today could be me with an acoustic guitar or it could be the full band.
A band is really defined by its songs not by its membership. That’s how I believe rock ‘n roll is… if you take the songs away, there’s nothing there. People don’t come to hear four guys on a stage, they come to hear the music. The music never gets old. The human being does, but the songs continue to develop and they grow outside of the period they were recorded in.
Switch on Declaration by The Alarm and it sounds like 1984, but play the songs like “Blaze of Glory,” “68 Guns” and “Marching On” and they sound like now.
Big Country and the Celtic Invasion
Big Country is important to me because of Stuart Adamson. Funny enough, I was talking with Bono not long ago and we were talking about a time in 1983 on the last night of the War Tour in Britain and Bono brought myself and Stuart Adamson out on stage and we played “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door,” which I had taught him how to play. Bono introduced us as the new breed, and it was an interesting time when we first came to America and it was dubbed as Celtic Rock. U2 from Ireland, Big Country from Scotland, The Alarm from Wales, The Waterboys, Simple Minds – all British guitar bands from the Celtic fringes and that’s what drew us all together.
Stuart was very kind to me when The Alarm was being resurrected in 2000. People wouldn’t give a band that had a long history and that was getting older and had changed its line-up any attention. It was three strikes and you’re out. And Stuart said “come out on the road with Big Country and we’ll reconnect you with your audience,” and he was great. But, he died not long after that.
Then I sang with the band for a year in 2012 and made an album with them to help them get back on their feet again. Stuart had taken his own life sadly and that cast a massive shadow over their music. People couldn’t see beyond that but I thought that people needed to get out to their gigs again, bring the records out again, and celebrate his life and celebrate the brilliant music he left behind. I love Stuart’s songs. “Fragile Thing” – I liked the songs he wrote when he became an older man. He always had a lot of dignity and a lot of soul and that came out in his music.
Parenthood and the Rock Business
Again, Bono and I were talking not long ago about when we all met (Peters, Adamson, Bono (U2), Jim Kerr (Simple Minds) and Mike Scott (Waterboys)) he was very different to all of us because he was the only one of us who was a father. I don’t think any of us understood the weight on his shoulders; being out on the road with a band that was starting to happen in a big way, but having that pull of family back home. I think it placed a lot of pressure on him. None of us knew that.
You just don’t know what it’s like to be a father until you become one. I am one now luckily, and so is Bono, but at the time we weren’t and we didn’t quite understand the sacrifices he was making to be in the band. He was such a young father. We came into fatherhood when we were later in life, and it effects your music and effects who you are.
Timelessness of a Great Song
When I went back to Big Country’s music as a father myself, I heard a lot more in his music. “Chance” for instance has some brilliant lyrics about the relationship he had with his father but I didn’t understand it at the time. I hope for that with my own body of music when people come back to it and hear a song like “Unsafe Building” from 1981 and hear it today and say “now I’ve lived some life and that song means even more than when I first encountered it.”
We stole a few more minutes of Mikes time to discuss my favorite song from The Alarm. We’ll share those thoughts on one of his early classics right here in the near future.
You can catch The Alarm on the Van’s Warped Tour from July 7th through August 6th. More details here: The Alarm @ VWT
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