Interview: The Alarm’s Mike Peters still showing plenty of strength at age 60 (Masquerade, Sept. 4)
NEW YORK - APRIL 16: Mike Peters of the Alarm walks up the steps of the Empire State Building in support of The Love Hope Strength Foundation's charity concert on April 16, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images for IFL)
Originally posted Tuesday, August 20, 2019 by RODNEY HOfirstname.lastname@example.org on Melissa Ruggieri’s AJC Music Scene blog
The anthemic Welsh band the Alarm never became as popular as comparable 1980s Irish rockers U2 in the United States, but they found enough dedicated fans for the band to make regular visits to Atlanta, mostly recently in 2017 at the City Winery Atlanta.
The band was much bigger in the U.K. with a total of 17 top 50 hits. Stateside, they did garner a handful of alternative and mainstream rock hits such as “Strength,” “Rain in the Summertime” and “Sold Me Down the River.”
The Alarm, which opened for U2 back in 1983 when the band first came to Atlanta, is returning September 4 with fellow 1980s alternative rock bands Modern English and Jay Aston's Gene Loves Jezebel at the Masquerade, now at Underground Atlanta. (Buy tix here.)
Mike Peters, now 60, remains the sole remaining original member, but the lead singer with the soaring voice said he still loves pumping out the hits and connecting with the audience after more than 40 years of performing on stage. And he loves how social media now enables him to interact with fans in a way he couldn't back in the hey day.
“There are a massive number of Alarm fans who connect with us on a daily basis,” said Peters in a recent interview. “The Web touches the world. They hear a record they haven’t heard in ages and it evokes feelings they had when they first heard the record. That feeling is locked in their heart and they can release that energy coming to our shows and be teenagers all over again. You can come out and be reborn.”
Even when he was in his 20s building the group, he wanted to ensure he could still be performing decades later.
“I always had ambition,” he said. “I wanted to make music for the rest of my life. The foundation has to be good.”
And he said his voice is as solid - if not better- than it was back in the day.
“I can play longer, sing longer and higher,” he said. “I train my voice. I haven’t been trapped in one successful level of rock and roll my whole life. I’ve moved up and down the ladder. I’ve played acoustic in tiny clubs with just my voice. By doing that, I found things in my voice I never knew existed. I can properly sing. I’m not shouting like I did in the 1980s!”
And unlike many of his peers, he said he can still roam the stage with the energy of a 25 year old. “I can run side to side, microphones all over the place,” he said. “There is more energy at an Alarm show than ever before.”
From 2010 to 2013, Peters was lead singer for Scottish band Big Country, covering for lead singer Stuart Adamson, who took his own life in 2001.
“It was a fantastic experience,” Peters said. “I love playing with the band. We made a record. It’s a love letter to Stuart. We don’t want to think of him for one dark day. We want to remember him for all the great music, the powerful lyrics.”
He said his indomitable will to live has kept him going. He suffered from leukemia in the mid-1990s but survived. “I take an oral chemo every day to stay alive,” Peters said.
Just looking out in his audience, he knows his fans - most well into middle age and older - have had their own share of challenges. And he brings his own family along on the road. His two sons - 12 and 15 - sell merch. His wife Jules plays keyboards.
“It’s fantastic,” he said. “The band has grown with our audience. We’re still in sync with them. It’s absolutely everything we hoped for when we started the group in 1981.”
The Alarm, with Modern English and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel
Rodney Ho writes about entertainment for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution including TV, radio, film, comedy and all things in between. A native New Yorker, he has covered education at The Virginian-Pilot, small business for The Wall Street Journal and a host of beats at the AJC over 20-plus years. He loves tennis, pop culture & seeing live events.