The Alarm finds strength with its audience for decades

Published on March 22nd, 2021

By Jim Dail

Music has always had the power to bring people together, and if you ask The Alarm lead singer Mike Peters, the band’s music is all about connections.

“Our relationship with the audience has been built on shared experiences going back in time, and it has built a deep relationship with our audience,” said Peters of the band that will perform Friday, July 26 at Wiens Family Cellar with Modern English and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel. “For many modern bands, it’s all streaming and social media, but we come from a generation where we had to work hard to get our craft where it needed to be and play a ton of gigs.”

The band first got the attention of American fans in 1983, touring with U2. Always a prolific recording band, they continued to release records around the world, and in 1985 achieved considerable airplay and success with both the single and album “Strength.”

“Bands like The Alarm were broken on the back of a radio hit,” he said. “We toured a ton and played a lot of shows and that shaped the band.”

But, it wasn’t that easy to crack the American market.

“Europe isn’t the birthplace of rock and roll, so it could be hard for British bands to tour in America,” he said. “But you have to come and play the big continent. And that’s what we did.”

For Peters, much of the bands success over the years stems not just from touring and the music, but also the generational time period that is more than just nostalgia.

“There weren’t the same proliferations or distractions that people have today,” he said. “Rock and roll was at the center of life at that time. Now kids can just delete the song if they don’t like it and they can find it anywhere, or use other electronic devices, but that wasn’t the case in the past generation.”

And music was a physical thing.

“When you went to buy “Strength,” you got it and it was in your hand,” he said. “You put it on the record player, put the needle down. You don’t have that now, although vinyl is making a comeback so things are becoming full circle.”

The song was indicative of the band at the time.

“We were thrown in with hardcore bands and other young bands, and we survived to live and tell the tale,” he said. “We stood up for ourselves, but it was a very interesting time. Fans of punk rock started Live Aid, and through charities and endeavors people voiced opinions on Apartheid. Music was making waves.”

One benefit of the modern era and being a well-established group is there isn’t the same pressure.

“Now, there’s a lot more freedom for an artist that’s dedicated to their work,” he said. “There is equal opportunity, and you can go as far as your ideas will take you. Part of it is because everyone has access to a global audience. You can just put it on YouTube or Spotify.”

However, as Peters points out, it can be hard to get noticed with so much online material.

“How can you have a voice in this gigantic ocean of people who are all looking for the same thing and everything has a profile and everyone is a star in their own right?’ he asked. “It’s very had to get people’s attention. That’s the challenge.”

The new record, “Sigma,” is the top rock album on the UK charts.

“We were going to release a double album last year, but in his day and age who has the time to listen to 20 tracks,” he said. “So, we decided to do two albums and keep the conversation going and if we can keep it alive we can reach more and more people.”

They have already survived the ‘90s.

“When the 90s came along, certainly a place like America became less accessible to us,” he said. “When we first came in the 80s, America looked for alternative music. When Nirvana and Eddie Vedder came around a little later, they had it and didn’t have to look to alternative countries. And, it’s hard for British bands to tour in America, anyway.”

However, the band did survive and continues to draw in crowds, and sell records.

“The freedom we feel as a band is because we feel like we’ve got new music and it frees our old songs that we are known for like ‘The Stand’ or ‘Strength’ and they can sound fresh,” he said. “They have new friends to keep them company.”

But ultimately, something has allowed the music to stand the test of time.

“You don’t know what the songs are going to be like,” he said. “I created them and they are my kids, so you have to sit back and let them grow up, and you don’t think they will become like they are and you say ‘Wow! Look how it worked.’”

It goes back to making connections as Peters indicates.

“Music is alive because the fans that connected to it have made it part of their lives and they go to a workplace and someone gets in the workplace and then there’s the music playing and others hear it,” he said. “It turns out to be a new fan that creates new human connections.”


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