The Princes of Wales 

The Alarm is still the hardest-working band in Britain

Say what you will about aging frontmen and the occasional overstayed welcome, but so far no one can touch Mike Peters of the Alarm for his work ethic. To celebrate the UK release of The Alarm 2000 Collection, a remastered nine-CD set containing the band’s complete recorded works, Peters recently performed acoustic renditions of every single song in the Alarm catalogue for an exclusive fan club concert in North Wales. The performance lasted 12 hours.

“Yeah, well, there was a lot of chat,” Peters told the Independent last week, “A lot of stories to be told. But I was onstage for 12 hours and I played close to a hundred songs.”

The Alarm. Early ’80s. Ireland had U2, Scotland had the bristling highland reveille of Big Country, and Wales had the fired-up lefty minstrelsy of the Alarm. They occasionally sang in Welsh and had a policy of having only Welsh-speaking bands open for them in their home country. As a young American, alas, back when alternative really was, you’d have to have been in on the ground floor with those first Cure and Smiths records to remember much of what the Alarm were doing at about the same time. They never blew the top off the American scene quite like U2 did, but they racked up at least a couple of bona fide hits stateside. You probably remember “Rain in the Summertime.” Don’t make me sing it for you.

But Mike Peters will. For you, if you like, because the other amazingly labor-intensive thing he’s been up to, besides managing a healthy solo career of his own, is fielding requests for personal dedications to be included with boxed sets ordered over the Internet. It’s like this: You request your song when you order the set online (www.thealarm.com), Peters records a personally dedicated acoustic version live to mini-disc (in this case, at the Ritz), bounces it to CDR, mixes it down and burns a personalized CD to either be mailed out or picked up from Peters himself after the lights go up. Nothing like this has really been attempted before. Has the response been overwhelming?

“I wasn’t expecting it to become what it’s become,” says Peters. “I thought it would appeal only to the hardcore fans, but it seems to have caught a lot of people’s imaginations. And it’s a new way of making music, isn’t it? When you’re writing songs you imagine playing them for hundreds of people, but this really makes the music a one-to-one experience. I like to do things differently, and I like to do things that represent the Alarm in a dignified way.”

Peters says he’s psyched about visiting Missoula. Last time he was in Montana, he only made it as far as Butte—where the Alarm filmed the video for 1989’s “Sold Me Down the River” with director Tim Hunter (River’s Edge).

“We’re going to blow Montana away,” he says, testing the mouthfeel of good ol’ Yankee hyperbole. “We’re going to rock Missoula, aren’t we?”
The Alarm 2000 play the Ritz this Tuesday, Oct. 24 at 10 PM. Cover $5.

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