The Alarm: An in-depth talk with The Alarm's rock music icon, Mike Peters MBE

Friday 13th September 2019

Tony Cummings spoke to Mike Peters of THE ALARM, whose albums are still producing radio hits

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Mike: Did I say that, did I?

Tony: It's just something I observed.

Mike: I wouldn't change one thing about the life I've lived. Jules and I sit back sometimes and we feel so lucky to be alive and we have two great boys and live in a great part of the world. And we have survived some really intense times. I would never want anybody to go on the journey that I've been on, it's a train ride for this one person only, I hope. I'm grateful that we've lived through these experiences and to tell the tale. When Jules and I were faced with some of the challenges, when the word we probably don't want to talk about, cancer, came into our lives for the first time, all I wanted to do was find a good news story about somebody who had what I had and survived and I couldn't find it. I went on the internet - all the nursing staff had said, "Mike, don't go on the internet." I got home and started searching and all I found were facts and figures that showed I wasn't going to be alive in a year or something like that and it was terrifying. I'm actually glad I've been able to go through those experiences and then amplify it a bit in my music or talk about it in interviews, or by organising treks and hiking mountains, so somebody out there who find themselves in a position that Jules and I were in can say, "Well, he survived it so I'm going to too." I think that's all we wanted to get out of these experiences, to be able to live to tell the tale.

Tony: Has your Christian faith survived, died or deepened?

The Alarm:  An in-depth talk with The Alarm's rock music icon,
Mike Peters MBE

Mike: I think all of those at the same time. Faith is like a river and it's affected by the seasons. Just last year, we went to the Grand Canyon to raise some funds for our Get On The List bone marrow drive and we took some supporters, some musicians in to the Grand Canyon. We went into Bryce Canyon. We had one chap who had signed up to come and do the trek and he lost his life to cancer before the trek took place and his family came in his stead to uphold his memory and feel close to him. We had a sort of service for his memory down in the heart of Bryce Canyon and I was stood there giving a talk about him and the words were right, but I realised that we were stood in a dried up river bed. I said, "Look, we're in this dried up river bed and it's dried up now, but it will always be a river and just like the Father will always be the Father of those children and loved ones." And that's how I think faith works, once you've accepted it into your life, it's always going to be there. Even though it might dry up from time to time it never goes away and it's always there when you need it, when you have to call upon it. So faith is all those things to me. It can be strong and it can be weak, but it's still faith and that's what carries you through life.

Tony: Do you sustain it daily, do you pray every day?

Mike: I'm not a religious person in that sense, but my faith carries me through life always and every day. I always see the miracle of life when I wake up in the morning and to me it is a blessing to be alive. I often say to my kids we're so lucky to look at the sun come up and burn on our skin, it's an incredible feeling and the love we have for each other is a miracle and we should be so grateful for it, and that carries me through to tomorrow and that makes me want to stay alive. I'm really lucky and blessed and I feel blessed every day.

Tony: What about your feelings about the changes in music and how people are saying "it can only be a hit if there's a video to go with it"?

Mike: You need to have some vehicle to put it out to YouTube and all that kind of thing and that's where a lot of it gets driven from. People want to see it on their phone, not just hear it. My friend Red worked for Bob Dylan since we toured with them. He had a thing where Bob Dylan at the start of the tour would say to his team, "I don't want any lights anymore. I don't want any lights, I'm tired of light at rock shows" and all this kind of thing. And they said, "But Bob, people are paying to come and see you." And he said, "No they're not, they're paying to come and hear me." And it's true, isn't it?

But now we don't listen to artists, we watch them. And that's a different experience and it is a shame to have your song get any traction, to get out there in the world, it has to have a video, because most people, their first listening experience is watching you on video. That's a fact of life. The downsides and the upsides now are there's no producer who says you can't be on YouTube anymore, which there is at radio. There's always somebody who says "Your song's not good enough to go on here." In the old days, when there were a hundred-thousand radio stations to approach, if one radio station producer didn't like your song you went to the next, or the next or the next until you found one that did. And then you could go back to all the others and convert them again. But now it's so narrow, the window, to get on radio. One or two people control the radio in America or the format that you listen to in America. It's very hard to get on the radio in this day and age, but it's easy to get on YouTube. So make videos, people! CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.

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