The Alarm life and biography

The Alarm picture, image, poster

The Alarm biography

Date of birth : -
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Manchester, England
Nationality : English
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2012-04-04
Credited as : Alternative rock band, Electric Folklore Live, The 'Unalarmed' tour

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The Alarm are an alternative rock band that emerged from North Wales in the late 1970s. They started as a mod band and stayed together for over ten years. As a rock band, they displayed marked influences from Welsh language and culture. By opening for acts such as U2 and Bob Dylan, they became a popular alternative rock band of the 1980s, retaining a small but loyal following to the present day.

The Alarm combined punk influences with acoustic guitars and political and sociological messages to become a notable rock band in the 1980s. Originating in Wales, the foursome of Eddie MacDonald on bass, Mike Peters on vocals and guitar, Dave Sharp on guitar, and Nigel Twist on drums received unending comparisons to U2 throughout their career. Debby Miller described the Alarm in Rolling Stone, "With a fresh, muscular lineup of two acoustic guitars, bass, and drums, the Alarm are both hippies and latter-day punks, descendants of both Bob Dylan and the Clash. "After a decade of recording and performing together, the members of the Alarm agreed to dissolve the group and pursue their individual interests.

The members of the Alarm had been friends since childhood. MacDonald and Peters met at the age of four in Rhyl, Clwyd, Wales, while Sharp and Twist became friends at the age of six in England. The latter two moved to Wales when they were 14 years old. Peters and Twist decided to form a punk band called the Toilets after seeing a Sex Pistols show in 1977. After a year, they recruited MacDonald and Sharp to join the group. The group later changed its name to Seventeen--after the Sex Pistols' song, and performed in Rhyl for four years. They recorded the single "Don't Let Go" backed with "Bank Holiday Weekend" on Vendetta Records. In 1981, Seventeen had the opportunity to tour with Dexy's Midnight Runners. After their first show, they got fired because the headlining band didn't think they were good enough to take on the road.

After a factory closed in Rhyl, many of its residents became unemployed. With work opportunities virtually impossible, the foursome decided to open a clothing shop called Riot, for which they made their own clothes. They also opened a nightclub called the Gallery, where they were able to hone their own musical talent.

"Hard luck stories are one thing," Eddie MacDonald told Rick G. Karr in Stereo Review, "Doing something about it is something else. There was always sort of a scene in Wales, but no outlet. We made the outlets." When a fight broke out in the Gallery, demolishing its interior, the group decided to move to London, and changed their name to the Alarm. " Pretty early on, we found there wasn't much of an audience for music where we started out," Mike Peters told Rock Express. "So we moved down to London ... and started playing for anybody who'd listen."

The group recorded the single "Unsafe Building" backed with "Up for Murder," pressed 2,000 copies, and released them on their own White Cross label. They used the single as a demo and sold it at performances. In 1982, one of the members of U2 showed up at one of their shows in England. "We got talking and found out we had so much in common," Dave Sharp told Geoffrey Himes in Musician. "They're a passionate band and want to continue to be, and we're the same way.

After the two groups became friends, U2 invited the Alarm to open for them during a few of their shows in England. From there, they toured the U.S. together. Gaining interest from the press and music industry, the Alarm signed a record contract with I.R.S. Records. In September of 1982, they released their debut single, "Marching On." The following year, they released a self-titled EP and toured North America. Steve Pond described The Alarm in his Rolling Stone review as "simple, forceful music, rambling strings of earnestly poetic images and the conviction that speaking out just might change a few things."

In 1984, the Alarm returned to the studio and released the single "Where Were You Hiding When the Storm Broke" followed by the album Declaration. Again, the grop continued to communicate their message. "What we try to do is inject hope into people, to show people that the individual is a creative force, that you have to make your own situation," Sharp told Himes. "We want to encourage people to turn around and look at themselves, and say, 'Yeah, we can do something.'"

After a year of reevaluating their direction, the Alarm returned to the studio with producer Mike Howlett to record Strength. "I think we've learned how to take control of our music a lot better," Peters told Firework Fanzine, "and we're learning to write better lyrics that have much more depth into the subject matter." The following year, the Alarm released a live concert video titled Spirit of '86, which was recorded in Los Angeles. In November of 1987, they returned with the release of Eye of the Hurricane, produced by John Porter. This time, the Alarm took their style in a slightly different direction in an effort to discover their musical definition. "We're not trying to ram things down people's throats like we did in the early days," Sharp told Jimmy Guterman in Rolling Stone. "The time for broad statements has long passed."

As part of their tour in 1988, the Alarm spent the summer in the opening slot for another of their musical influences--Bob Dylan. In November of the same year, they released their first live album, Electric Folklore Live. In 1989, their next release, Change, arrived in stores.

Returning to the roots of their home country, the Alarm also recorded a Welsh language version titled Newid ("change" in Welsh). The group also revisited their past with a remake of their earliest recording, called "Unsafe Building 1990" and a retrospective collection called Standards.

In 1991, Dave Sharp took a temporary detour from the band with a solo project. He released the album Hard Travellin' and played a limited acoustic tour in the Northeastern U.S. In May of the same year, the Alarm released their final album, Raw. The group had begun to have some difficulties. On June 30, 1991, the members of the Alarm had not yet decided to dissolve the band when they went on stage at London's Brixton Academy. Singer Mike Peters simply walked up to the microphone at the end of one of their songs and told the audience, "Thanks for coming to our final show." Although none of the other members anticipated it at that particular time, theyall knew it would happen eventually. "There was a time when it started becoming less fun," Peters told Rey Roldan in Consummable. "We all started to get egos. We all started feeling more superior than each other. I just felt like it was falling apart around me."

Peters went on to form the Poets of Justice, who released their debut, Breathe, in 1994. In 1996, he went on a solo tour called "Unalarmed," during which he resurrected the Alarm's material. "The 'Unalarmed' tour really put my faith back in music," Peters told Roldan. "I really loved hearing words which I once struggled to write being sung back to me. It's times like these when I feel like the luckiest man alive."

Following the box set release, Peters used The Alarm name on the tour to promote the complete collection release. The musicians Peters used were his backing band in the late 1990s; Steve Grantley from Stiff Little Fingers, Craig Adams from The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and The Cult, and James Stevenson from Chelsea and Gene Loves Jezebel. The Alarm name was followed by an MM++ that indicated in Roman numerals what year the record was released. Over the past decade Peters has replaced the band members as needed when Adams, Stevenson or Grantley have pursued other projects.

In February 2004, Peters' new line-up of Alarm MM++ carried out a hoax on the British music industry by issuing "45 RPM" under the fictitious name the Poppy Fields. Peters, having garnered positive feedback for the song, decided to disassociate it from his veteran band to have it judged on its own merits, and recruited a young Welsh group called the Wayriders to lip-sync the song in the video. The so-called Poppy Fields took "45 RPM" into the UK Top 30 before the hoax was revealed, setting the stage for the album, In the Poppy Fields.

The Alarm appeared together for a one off show on the VH1 television programme, Bands Reunited, in 2005, and performed live in London with a subsequent expanded DVD/CD release of the episode.

In 2005, Peters discovered that he was suffering from chronic lymphocytic leukaemia. At this time, Peters started a cancer foundation called Love Hope Strength to help with the fight against cancer.

In October 2007, Peters, along with 38 other musicians, cancer survivors and supporters, made a 14 day trek to the Mount Everest base camp to perform the highest concert ever on land to raise awareness and money to fight cancer. Other musicians included Cy Curnin and Jamie West-Oram of The Fixx, Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze, Slim Jim Phantom of The Stray Cats and Nick Harper. Peters is the co-founder of The Love Hope and Strength Foundation with James Chippendale, president of CSI Entertainment in Dallas, Texas.

In 2006 Mike Peter's new version of Alarm MM++ released a second studio album, Under Attack. It spawned another UK Top 30 hit, "Superchannel". Im 2008, a third studio album entitled Guerrilla Tactics was released, followed by a fourth, Direct Action, in April 2010.

The Alarm's song, "68 Guns", has been featured in a Heineken television advertisement in the US. In April 2008 Sharp launched his own version of the band, AOR - Spirit of The Alarm to showcase the band's American set lists from the late 1980s.

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