The Alarm was made in Wales, UK and by the time of 1981’s debut single ‘Unsafe Building’, featured a daring mix of amped-up acoustic guitars, harmonica and passionate vocals that invited the enduring description “Bob Dylan meets The Clash”.
This is the sound of The Alarm that has been heard around the world ever since, with 17 Top 50 UK singles, a host of successful albums and over 6 million sales worldwide, a career that has also seen founding member Mike Peters sing on stage with the likes of Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and U2.
In fact, The Alarm scored their first chart success in the USA in 1983 with ‘The Stand’, before flying back from America to make their first UK TV appearance on Top Of The Pops, notching up their first British chart hit with the rousing ‘Sixty Eight Guns’. The hit ‘Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke?’ was to follow in early 1984 before the release of their debut LP, ‘Declaration’, which went to Number 6 on the UK chart.
The Alarm’s second album, ‘Strength’ (the title track becoming The Alarm’s first U.S. Top 40 hit), was released in 1985 and spawned the autobiographical ‘Spirit of ’76’. It was at this time The Alarm made history by playing the world’s very first global satellite concert, live from Los Angeles. An estimated audience of 26,000 fans turned up on the day for the original ‘Spirit Of ‘86’ concert that was ultimately watched by millions around the world. The set list included all The Alarm’s greatest hits of the time such as ‘The Stand, ‘Absolute Reality, ‘Sixty Eight Guns’, ‘Strength’ and ‘Spirit Of ‘76’, songs that would see The Alarm break North America on a grand scale.
The 1987 album, ‘Eye Of The Hurricane’, followed with the international hit, ‘Rain In The Summertime’, backed by a series of world tours (including an extended US outing with Bob Dylan). The release of the band’s first live mini album ‘Electric Folklore’, furthered The Alarm’s reputation for engaging live shows.
‘Change’, The Alarm’s fourth studio album was released in late 1989), and the band saw out the ’80’s with a sell-out concert in New York City were they were joined on stage by Neil Young to perform ‘Rockin’ In the Freeworld’. ‘Change’ went on to become a hit on both sides of the Atlantic, with ‘A New South Wales’ reaching the UK Top 40 in 1990 and ‘Sold Me Down the River’ becoming a U.S. Number 1 Rock Hit.
‘Raw’ was the last record to feature the original line-up of the band when, in the summer of 1991, the demands of the road were at the heart of a very public swan song at London’s Brixton Academy.
A decade of solo action followed with guitarist Dave Sharp releasing ‘Hard Travelling’ in the month after Brixton and (following a relocation to New Orleans later in 1994), a second solo album – Downtown America.
In 1992, The Alarm became one of the first bands to have a dedicated internet site www.thealarm.com when Mike Peters registered the domain and to coincide, founded ‘The Gathering’, an ‘Alarm’ event held in North Wales which now attracts fans from all over the world.
Throughout the rest of the nineties, Mike Peters went on to establish himself as a respected solo artist with the release of the independent long player ‘Breathe’ in 1994 (Number 5 on album chart), followed by ‘Feel Free’ (1996) and ‘Rise’ (1998), two records which would document Mike Peters first engagement with the cancer (Leukaemia), that has followed him throughout life ever since. The recording sessions for ‘Rise’ featured a guest collaboration with the then ex-The Cult guitarist Billy Duffy and in 1998 the two created a short lived band called Coloursøund which (following an appearance at SXSW), attracted widespread interest within the music industry. A headline gig at London’s LA2 was seen by original Alarm bass player Eddie Macdonald and The Cult vocalist Ian Astbury. Soon after The Cult was back together and reiginiting their career by playing at the new Woodstock Festival and an album of Coloursøund demos was released retrospectively.
In 1999, Peters went on to record a fourth solo album that formed the soundtrack to the stage play – ‘Flesh & Blood’, the recording sessions saw Mike Peters reunite with original Alarm song writing partner Eddie Macdonald. Following this collaboration, Mike Peters and Eddie Macdonald decided to reconvene as – The Alarm (without, but with the blessing of Dave Sharp and drummer Nigel Twist). Originally billed as The Alarm MM, the reconstituted band featured Mike Peters and Eddie Macdonald, backed by members of the Mike Peters solo band, namely guitarist James Stevenson (Gen X, Gene Loves Jezebel, The Cult), bass player Craig Adams (Sisters Of Mercy, The Mission, The Cult) and drummer Steve Grantley (Stiff Little Fingers).
The band’s first dates were with fellow Celt Rockers – Big Country but after just eight dates including a concert at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire, Eddie Macdonald decided to quit, leaving Mike Peters to forge a path that would lead to the release of new Alarm music.
In 2000, ‘The Alarm Complete Collection’ box set was released, bringing together The Alarm’s entire 1980’s musical output into a nine-CD box set, along with a bonus ‘audio dedication’ CD personally recorded by Mike Peters.
In 2003, and in just 5 months, the ‘In The Poppy Fields Bond’ was written, recorded and released (via the alarm.com website). A massive five album, 59 song set, that allowed the new line up to come of age with new music of its own and ready to face the world as a creative force once again.
In late 2003, the cameras of VH1 struck and brought the original band members together to perform for the show Bands Re-United at La Scala in Kings Cross. In the aftermath, everyone once again, went their separate ways with Mike Peters taking the ‘new’ Alarm back to the USA for the ‘The Alarm Make A Stand In The USA Tour’, which involved the band playing New York, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles on a weekly basis over one month.
In 2004, The Alarm’s first brand new single of the millennium – ’45 RPM’ would ultimately take their signature electro-acoustic sound into the UK top 40, into the mainstream rock culture of North America causing worldwide controversy at the same time.
‘The Poppy Fields’ “fake band” escapade was conceived to conceal the identity of The Alarm from a media concerned with only playing brand new bands and brand new music.
The true identity of The Alarm was eventually revealed by the BBC on Top Of The Pops and instantly triggered a rush of global media exposure, culminating in a US TV appearance on CBS Headline News with Dan Rather.
Following this unlikely success, a new record deal with EMI was signed although The Alarm’s return to prominence was halted almost immediately when, in late 2005, Mike Peters was re-diagnosed with an incurable cancer (A rare B-cell form of Leukemia), forcing the band into playing select shows only, dictated by the chemotherapy / treatment regime that has kept Mike Peters alive ever since.
In January 2006, Mike Peters was given the go ahead to resume touring duties and the group continued with the release of ‘Under Attack’ which was bolstered by another Top 30 record in the shape of ‘Superchannel’ and live anthem Without A Fight’.
In that same year, Mike Peters was honored with a lifetime achievement award at the Welsh Music Awards and also coming eleventh in a Welsh Assembly Government-backed poll of the top 100 Welsh heroes.
Whilst continuing with a lengthy rehabilitation program of constant chemotherapy throughout 2007, Mike Peters founded the Love Hope Strength charity which is dedicated to ‘Saving Lives – One Concert At A Time’ and now firmly established as one of the world’s leading rock and roll cancer foundations with over 3,500 lives potentially saved through its ‘Get On The List’ program.
At the beginning of 2008, Mike Peters and The Alarm recorded an Eight EP Collection – ‘The Counter Attack Collective’, that gave birth to the single album ‘Guerilla Tactics’ that was released on the day Mike Peters performed an ‘pop up’ concert in New York’s Times Square. The album’s opening cut ‘Three Sevens Clash’ was released to American Rock Radio and made it’s way into the top 5.
In 2010, the Direct Action album followed with the cover version of ‘One Guitar’, that would later be performed by Bruce Springsteen along with writer Willie Nile, and a guest appearance from Mike Peters. The ‘Direct Action’ tour saw the band tour North America and the U.K. only this time (following the departure of Steve Grantley to take up a full time role with Stiff Little Fingers), with new permanent drummer ‘Smiley’ from Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros.
The ‘Sound and the Fury’ album was released in 2011 to mark The Alarm’s 30th Anniversary. The ‘Sound and the Fury’ featured re-workings of songs from all eras of the band’s history.
On New Years Eve in that same year, Mike Peters walked out onto the stage at Glasgow’s ABC to take up guest vocal duties with Big Country and sing for his long time friend and original Big Country vocalist / guitarist – the late Stuart Adamson, whom Mike had met onstage while performing with U2 back in 1983.
Mike Peters continued to tour with Big Country throughout 2012/13, going so far as to record an album of original material entitled ‘The Journey’ that was received enthusiastically by fans and critics alike.
2013 was also the year of the cinematic release of the Alarm / Poppy Fields inspired movie – ‘Vinyl’ starring Phil Daniels (Quadrophenia/Blur), Keith Allen, Perry Benson and Jamie Blackley. Rreleased to British cinemas nationwide the ‘Vinyl’ – Soundtrack Album and Tour featured a collection of brand new Alarm music composed specifically for the film such as the movie’s recurring theme song ‘Free Rock And Roll’ which was recorded by The Alarm with ‘Vinyl’ star Phil Daniels on guest vocals.
In 2014/15 respectively, The 30th Anniversary of The Alarm albums – Declaration (2014) and Strength (2015), were acknowledged with the release of newly recorded collections (including companion discs ‘Peace Train’ and ‘Majority’ respectively).
The new recordings centred on re-imagined takes of all the songs and b-sides from each period. A two year commitment to constant touring from Mike Peters, featured full length presentations of each of the albums via a unique one-one man band ‘Mike Peters presents The Alarm’ stage show that took Mike Peters all around the world.
In April 2014, the reworked ‘Declaration’ album was presented ‘live’ on BBC Wales with a stripped back ‘acoustic / orchestral’ version of The Alarm and the Welsh Symphony Orchestra. A surprise video message from all the members of U2 singing Alarm anthem ‘Blaze Of Glory’, went viral on the internet.
A second concert to celebrate the anniversary of the ‘Strength’ album took place at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff in October 2015 with The Alarm again, backed by a huge orchestra (conducted by arranger John Quirk). The event was filmed and recorded for release as Poppies Falling From The Sky’, which took it’s title from the moment when millions of red poppies literally fell ‘from the sky’, and down on to the unsuspecting audience during the finale.
The ‘Spirit of ’86 event was revisited in 2016 as ‘Mike Peters presents The Alarm’ concert experience returned to UCLA, (the scene of the original MTV broadcast), and performed the exact same setlist at the James Bridges Theatre. An exhaustive tour followed with The Alarm making it’s first ever appearance at Glastonbury Festival.
That summer, Mike Peters wife Jules, was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and tour dates had to be cancelle. The BBC filmed events surrounding the Peters family in real time and created the documentary ‘Mike and Jules – While We Still Have Time’, which also featured contributions from long time family friend Bono from U2.
Whilst caring for his wife during this tense time, Mike Peters poured his feelings into song and before the year came to close, took The Alarm back into the recording studio to work on the new material.
2017 opened with a 25th Anniversary Gathering event (that was recorded by the BBC for a National Television Broadcast), and two first ever Gathering events in both New York and Los Angeles. Both the US Gathering events featured guest appearances (from Billy Duffy of The Cult in L.A.), and David Bowie producer Tony Visconti joining the band in New York to perform ‘Sold Me Down The River’ that he had originally produced in 1989.
The US Gathering events also coincided with premiere screenings of the Mike Peters, Alarm, Love Hope Strength movie ‘Man In The Camo Jacket’, which received numerous awards on the American Film Festival Circuit and was also screened at the Grammy Museum in Hollywood. A vinyl edition of the movie soundtrack was released on Record Store Day with the band performing live at stores in California and with Jules Peters now in remission and on keyboards, the band joined up with the Vans Warped Tour for select US, for an 8 week 59 date coast to coast run including a special night at The Chapel, San Francisco during which the group were joined on stage by original drummer Nigel Twist.
A UK October Tour (with original Alarm guitarist Dave Sharp joining as special guest), would see The Alarm play out one of the most creative years in it’s history. A new album and tour dates are expected for 2018.