The Alarm sounds again

Tom Lanham, The Examiner

You’ve got to hand it to Mike Peters. The feisty frontman of The Alarm always tries to look on the bright side of the darkest situation.

“I’m standing on the deck of my house, looking down the coast of North Wales, and I can see all the mountains,” he said during a recent phone interview.

“I live in a beautiful part of the world, I’ve got a fantastic family, two boys now, I’m still in a rock band at 49, and I’ve got a lot of energy for it. And I think that comes across on this record. It’s uptempo, and it reflects what I’ve been through.”

Said album — the just-issued “Guerilla Tactics,” which brings the band to the Mountain Winery on Thursday and The Fillmore on Friday — could’ve turned out much more downcast, or not at all.

Twelve years ago, on the eve of a U.S. tour, Peters was diagnosed with lymphoma. He waived treatment and played the gigs anyway, and returned with the disease in miraculous remission. A decade later, he would be blindsided by something far worse.

Experiencing unusual symptoms onstage with his punk-superstar side project, Dead Men Walking, the singer went in for a checkup.

“And my doctor’s face went white,” he recalled. “He found I had an enlarged liver, lymph glands popping out of me all over, and a white blood cell count of half a million. He said, ‘We’ve got to get you into the hospital, now, because you could fall down dead at any moment.’”

Ever since he formed The Alarm back in 1981, Peters was known for uplifting anthems such as “68 Guns” and “Blaze of Glory.” He applied that same positive thinking to his latest assailant, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and once again decided to fight back.

Hence the life-or-death fervor crackling through “Guerilla” cuts such as “War Cry,” “State of Emergency” and “Situation Under Control.”

Which, remarkably, it is; Peters is again in remission, and snarling stronger than ever with an all-new Alarm, featuring members of Generation X, Stiff Little Fingers and Sisters of Mercy.

He’s also launched his own cancer charity, the Love Hope Strength Foundation.

“And in the back of your mind, at first you think, ‘Wow — could this be the end?’” Peters says.

“But you’ve got to think that to come back from it, because then you start to think about what’s really important, and then you develop a combative mindset. I’m a bit like that knight in ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail,’” he says. “I’ll have my legs chopped, then my arms, and I’ll still be saying, ‘Merely a flesh wound! Come back and fight!’”