Following band frontman Mike Peters’ major undertaking for last week’s Record Store Day – which saw him perform at record shops in London, New York and Los Angeles in a three-stop transcontinental trip within 24 hours – The Alarm announce the release of their new album ‘Equals’, out on 29th June, through The Twenty First Century Recording Company (manufactured and distributed by InGrooves).
Equals is The Alarm’s first album since 2010’s Direct Action. It is a barnstorming collection of 11 songs that act as a retrenchment of old values and a poignant reflection of the tough times Mike and his wife Jules have been through in recent years. Having recovered from lymph cancer in 1996, Mike was diagnosed with a rare form of leukaemia in 2005 and, after an initial recovery, he suffered a relapse in 2015. To compound an already terrifying situation, Jules, who plays piano and sings backing vocals for the band, was then diagnosed with breast cancer soon after. All band activity was put on hold as the pair underwent treatment and it is only now, with both in remission, that The Alarm are firing on all cylinders again. The emotional repercussions, though, are all too evident in the spirit of life-affirming optimism in the face of adversity that runs through Equals.
“The songs were built out of what I had become,” says Mike. “I learnt a lot about myself and my relationship with Jules, and it’s all there in the music. I didn’t set out to write about what we were going through. All I had were these incredibly strong feelings that I found myself putting into words and writing down onto my phone without even thinking they might form the basis for songs.”
Produced by George Williams (who previously worked on 2005’s Under Attack), Equals opens with a torrent of epic rock numbers such as Two Rivers and Beautiful, which see Peters singing about coming to terms with the past before moving to enjoy life to the full. With Mike and Jules joined by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros drummer Smiley and guitarist James Stevenson, who cut his teeth with Chelsea, Generation X and The Cult, the album encompasses twin harmony guitars, pounding drums and electronic layering, while guest guitarist Billy Duffy (The Cult) helps Peters and Stevenson blend acoustic and electric sounds on Coming Backwards.
Equals is the latest chapter in an inspirational story that has seen The Alarm sell six million albums while clocking up 17 Top Fifty singles in the UK. Formed in 1981 in the Welsh seaside resort of Rhyl, the original band of Peters, Dave Sharp, Eddie MacDonald and Nigel Twist broke through on the back of the singles Unsafe Building, The Stand, Sixty Eight Guns and Where Were You Hiding When The Storm Broke?, their music a passionate blend of amped-up acoustic guitars, harmonica and Mike’s stirring voice. A string of successful albums saw them bracketed alongside U2, The Waterboys, Simple Minds and Big Country as part of Eighties rock’s distinctive Celtic fringe. After an emotional swansong at London’s Brixton Academy in 1991, the original members went their separate ways, with Mike launching a solo career and joining forces with Billy Duffy in a short-lived band called Coloursøund. The lingering allure of his old group proved hard to resist, however, and Peters entered a new millennium back at the helm of The Alarm. The group’s activities since that 1999 re-launch have included an ambitious album project, the Poppy Fields Bond, that saw them release five CDs in five months in 2003 and a ‘fake band’ escapade the following year in which they concealed their true identity by releasing a single, 45 RPM, as The Poppy Fields. They created a global news story when the song unexpectedly hit the UK charts.
Today, with Mike’s health now ‘back on an even keel’ and Jules in remission, The Alarm are looking forward to promoting Equals with characteristic vigour. Peters wouldn’t want it any other way. Not long after his second diagnosis, he founded a charitable foundation, Love Hope Strength, and has since registered over 170,000 individuals to the International Bone Marrow Donor Registry. A man who refuses to be beaten, his drive when faced with adversity is truly something special.
“The endgame of any creative period is always to share the results with an audience,” says Mike. “The turbulence of the last few years has shaken The Alarm’s world to its core but we have survived the challenges and are now ready for the next steps, which is performing the music live with our fans adding to the experience. Myself and the band are primed and ready to give everything we have to make this year a life-affirming experience for all our fans.”
Equals will be available on CD, LP and on all digital download & streaming services
Album pre-order link: https://thealarm.ffm.to/equals
Equals – album tracklisting;
1. Two Rivers
3. Coming Backwards (w/Billy Duffy)
5. Crowd Trouble
6. Peace Now
7. Thirteen Dead Reindeer
10. Hell Fire (CD only)
Beautiful will be available today as an instant grat track for iTunes and Amazon download pre-orders and on all streaming services.
The Alarm starts their European & US live tour from tomorrow (Friday) – dates are as follows:
27th April The Academy, Dublin
28th April The Limelight, Belfast
4th May O2 ABC, Glasgow
5th May The Picturedrome Holmfirth
10th May Bowery Electric, New York
11th May Gramercy Theatre, New York
12th May Huntington Beach, Like Totally Festival
13th May James Bridges Theater, UCLA
26th May O2 Forum Kentish Town, London
27th May Merthyr Rising, Merthyr Tydfil
13th June Melkweg, Amsterdam
14th June Muziekodroom, Hasselt
16th June Franz, Berlin
18th June Die Kantine, Cologne
20th June Musiktheater Piano, Dortmund
23rd June Love Hope Strength, Snowdonia Rocks