STATEN ISLAND ADVANCE
|Return to The Alarm||
Mike Peters and the Alarm lead a night of ’80s good rocking for a good cause
Posted Aug 7, 2019
STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. – The 1980s will come back to life on Aug. 30, when the Sigma XLLLV Tour featuring the Alarm, Modern English and Jay Aston’s Gene Loves Jezebel touches down at the St. George Theatre.
For Alarm founding member Mike Peters, the tour is about more than nostalgia.
“We have a kinship across the three bands, because it goes back to when we first broke through in America, when we were the vanguard of the alternative movement,” Peters told the Advance in a phone interview from a tour stop in San Francisco. “We thought it would be a great opportunity for us to come together and play.”
The night features “good long sets” from Modern English and Gene Loves Jezebel, Peters said, before the Alarm takes the stage for close to 90 minutes. There have been impromptu mashups where various band members play on stage together as well.
The Alarm formed in Wales in 1981, and had a string of anthemic hits on both sides of the Atlantic, including “Sixty Eight Guns,” “The Spirit of ’76” and “The Stand.” But the group never saw massive success of fellow 1980s band U2, to which the Alarm is often compared.
Peters, the band’s singer, guitarist and main songwriter, is the only founding member of the Alarm who performs with the group.
Peters said there has been new interest in the Alarm. The band got a boost when the Killers played the Alarm’s “Rain in the Summertime” at the Glastonbury festival in Wales in June. A YouTube video of the performance went viral, driving Killers fans to seek out the Alarm.
And the 1983 Alarm song “The Stand” was featured on the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” also spurring interest in the group.
“All of a sudden there’s 2 million people listening to the Alarm on Spotify that weren’t there the day before,” Peters said.
He said “The Stand,” an homage to the 1978 Stephen King novel, remains a one of his favorite songs to play live.
“It’s always been a song that’s connected us to America,” he said. “It’s the first song we ever had out here.”
Savvy about new technologies and social media, Peters said that bands of the Alarm’s vintage have benefited greatly from the Internet. Through podcasts, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, bands can spread their songs, videos and messages directly to their fans without having to rely on radio or the press.
But challenges remain, he said.
“The audience isn’t listening to just one radio station anymore,” Peters said. “They get their information from a whole host of sources. The challenge is to amplify the message as loud as we can so we reach all the people who could possibly be interested in seeing the band.”
Peters said that the fact that the Alarm, as well as Modern English and Gene Loves Jezebel, didn’t have that U2-level stardom might have actually contributed to the bands’ longevity.
“We were never the biggest bands on the planet,” he said. “We’ve always been alternative. We’ve always been just under the radar. There’s still a lot to discover.”
But in the tradition of U2 and Bob Geldof, the Live Aid founder who sang with the Boomtown Rats, Peters has used his rock stardom to benefit a good cause.
A three-time cancer survivor, Peters is a co-founder of the Love Hope Strength Foundation, which raises funds to fight blood cancer and which has registered close to 200,000 people for the National Marrow Donor Program.
The foundation, which registers donors at Alarm shows as well as at other rock concerts and festivals, has made more than 4,000 matches between donors and patients.
“We’re saving lives at concerts,” said Peters, whose wife and bandmate, Jules, is a breast cancer survivor.
“When we switch off the lights in the dressing room and get on the tour bus, the music of the Alarm and the message we put out there doesn’t stop,” Peters said. “People take it home with them.”
Peters said that an industry friend had told him that the St. George Theatre was a great venue and that “it’ll blow your mind when you get there.”
“I get the feeling the St. George is going to be an amazing setting,” Peters said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”