The Alarm's Mike Peters Keeps Rocking After Cancer
Posted Jul 9th 2008 4:00PM by David Chiu
Filed under: News, Exclusive

Welsh alternative band the Alarm is back with a new album, 'Guerilla Tactics,' which continues the group's rousing rock music -- a tradition that began in the early '80s with classics such as 'The Stand,' '68 Guns' and 'Strength.' But for Alarm singer Mike Peters, the new songs on 'Guerilla Tactics' have a much deeper meaning to him as someone who is currently living with cancer.

"They all got something running through them," he tells Spinner about the new songs. "They were all really written during my initial diagnosis and bouts with chemotherapy. I've been in treatment and getting strong enough to play a concert, and then back in hospital for more treatment."

Peters was first diagnosed for cancer in 1995 when he had Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma. In 2006, he learned he had Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia. He recalls receiving an unpleasant treatment in which his blood had to be taken out and spun in a centrifugal machine. "I went into shock and [I was] slipping out of reality," he says.

Quitting music wasn't an even option for Peters upon his cancer diagnosis. "Personally I feel I live life by going onstage," he explains. "It means I can be a father to my children. I can be the man I need to be for my wife, family and friends. To me being in a band onstage symbolizes being alive."

With driving rock songs such as 'Situation Under Control' and 'Fightback,' 'Guerilla Tactics' was, according to Peters, a response to what was happening as his life was hanging in the balance. The singer acknowledges that writing and performing the new songs provided a cathartic experience at a point when he was thinking about how he was going to say goodbye to his loved ones.

"You don't want to think about those [negative thoughts] until the last minute," Peter says. "But you got to confront it head on. And so to write the songs, you have to create an armament to deal with those situations. In a way it helped me put them in some sort of perspective."

Peters and James Chippendale started a foundation called Love Hope Strength to help cancer patients get access to quality medical care. In October 2007, Peters and other musicians, including members of the Stray Cats and Squeeze, played what is the considered the highest show on Mount Everest. The event raised cancer awareness and funds for the Bhaktapur Cancer Hospital in Nepal.

This fall, Peters and 100 others will cross the Inca Trail in Peru in an effort to raise money to combat cancer in that country. "It's just little steps to try to even the balance," he says, "so maybe we can help some people around to get back some of the same care I received."

Throughout its history the Alarm, which formed in 1981 in Wales, has sold more than five million albums all over the world and charted 16 UK singles. The group first broke up in the early '90s; Peters resurrected the band about ten years later with a new set of musicians. "We've been playing together a long, long time anyway," says Peter of the present band lineup. "The new Alarm probably has been playing together as long as the old Alarm. There's no fear in this band."

Following the release of 'Guerilla Tactics,' the Alarm will embark on the Rocking the Colonies tour with the Fixx and the English Beat in the States starting on July 10. As for Peters, his cancer is in remission. "I am feeling a little bit stiff because I've just done a massive workout," he says with a laugh. "I'm feeling great, fit and healthy. I'm very lucky and I want to enjoy everything that life has to offer."