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The Alarm at the Magic Bag, 5 Things To Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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A lot of bands during the late ’70s punk rock explosion, and in its wake. But few have stood the test of time like the Alarm.

Frontman Mike Peters and company have soldiered on since 1977, with its first recordings surfacing during 1983, playing anthemic standard -- “The Stand,” “Marching On, “68 Guns” and “Strength” -- that sound as fresh, and relevant, today as they did more than two decades ago. During that time Peters has also successfully battled lymphocytic leukemia and become an activist in the global fight against cancer through his Love Hope Strength Foundation.

Music remains the first and foremost concern for Peters and company, however, as the current version of the band continues to sound the, er, Alarm around the world.

• Peters, 58, calls the Alarm’s long tenure “a validation of sorts. I always thought joining up in the band might be for the long run, and we’ve had to survive many hurdles to stay alive and we’ve hung out there and flown the flag for our new music as much as we have the hits and bringing our history in line with what we do. It’s taken a lot of risks, but we’re still here.”

• The Alarm was part of this summer’s Vans Warped Tour, which Peters says “was amazing for us in America because it shows we can still mix it up with young bands. We’ve trailed off doing some of the easier options that would be open to a band of our heritage, like playing an ’80s tour. I’ve always known that if we hung out, people would accept what we’re trying to do as a new music group. That’s what we’ve always striven for.”

• While Peters has focused in recent years on creating new versions of the Alarm’s albums, usually to coincide with their release anniversaries, there are new songs in the mix, too, which he says will deal with both political and personal concerns. “There’s two sides to it,” he explains. “There’s a Blood Red side, as I describe it, which is looking at what’s been going on in my immediate family, with my wife going through breast cancer and myself struggling through the leukemia. But then there’s the half that’s called the Vinyl Black, and that really is looking at what the Trump administration is doing here in America, what Brexit is doing in Britain, what the smart phones are doing to our children and our generation. So, there’s definitely a lot of questions and thoughts that could be shared that are emerging now, with a view to really push them forward to the fore in 2018.”

• As part of his cancer-fighting activism, Peters hosts agencies at shows that promote early screening and other health issues. “Having visited World Cancer Congresses and addressing the cancer community, I’m of the opinion now that cancer needs to be more afraid of us than we need to be afraid of it,” says Peters, who takes an oral chemotherapy pill each day. “If people are diligent and check themselves and aren’t afraid of what they might find ... ’cause if you catch it early everyone’s got a fighting chance now. We go out there and we swab cheeks at concerts and we bring people together though music and the message is you can actually save lives by swabbing cheeks, by giving blood to create an immune system. We want to encourage people to take the next step and give others the chance for life they need.”

• Peters’ cancer battle was the subject of the films “Mike Peters On The Road To Recovery,” “More To Live For” and “Man In The Camo Jacket,” all of which he hopes deliver a positive message about fighting the disease. “The message of the film is really about living with an illness and a condition that many people feel that can’t live with,” Peters explains. “Anyone of my generation, when they hear the word cancer they feel like it’s a death sentence and that’s how the perception of it is. But we’re trying to show people you can truly live with a disease like cancer. My wife is on the road with me and we’re both living a very normal life, a family life out here in the crazy world of rock ’n’ roll. So we’re trying to get across to our audience out there is there’s infinite possibilities for everyone out there. You never close the door.”

• If You Go: The Alarm featuring Mike Peters performs Saturday, Aug. 26 (doors open at 8 p.m.) at The Magic Bag, 22920 Woodward Ave., Ferndale. Tickets are $25. Call 248-544-1991 or visit themagicbag.com.

Web Site: www.themagicbag.com

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