The Welsh modern rockers continue to break new ground with new double LP STREAM {Hurricane of Change}

This summer, The Alarm released STREAM {Hurricane of Change} — a double album that’s based on three of the band’s previous albums (1987’s Eye of The Hurricane, 1988’s Electric Folklore, and 1989’s Change). Calling from his home in northern Wales, front person Mike Peters explained how he came up with this unusual approach.

“I thought, ‘I’ll play these songs again and celebrate them being alive for 30 years,” he says, but soon the project became something deeper. “I looked at the lyrics and thought, ‘What was I trying to say?’ I said, ‘Well, I’m writing about a character who is leaving behind something cataclysmic. It’s the end of an era, and he’s trying to walk into a new future, but where is he going?’ Piecing the lyrics together that way, I realized it was much more of an autobiographical outpouring than I’d realized in the original writing process.”

Presenting the songs in a new way seemed like a natural way to both honor the original material while updating them with a modern viewpoint, and Peters is pleased with the result. “They’re still valid pieces of music that could be refocused to tell another story and be more revealing in that form.

“I thought, ‘Who are these characters in these songs, where are they, how have they got this far in life?’ And I thought it needed to be set in a modern context. That’s really where I set off with it and ended up with a double album and a dialogue that came out of it.”

Working on these new “re-presentations,” as Peters calls them, was a relatively easy task, compared to his work on the original album trilogy in the 1980s. “They were records that were quite difficult to make,” he says. “Difficult songs to write. The circumstances of the band had changed a lot at that time, it was coming to the end of the decade, and there were a lot of questions that needed answering. I felt a little bit like I was thrashing around in the dark.”

Peters has always been extremely candid about the struggles he has faced with The Alarm – and his own personal battles, as well. As with many bands, The Alarm has undergone many lineup changes and other threats to their survival, though Peters has always been the constant member and leader. More difficult to conquer, though, were his health woes: a cancer survivor – as is his wife, Jules Jones Peters, who also is The Alarm’s keyboard player), though both are healthy now.

Through all of these difficulties, though, Peters has always seemed to draw strength from his fans, even as he inspires them in turn with his optimism and tenacity. Starting with their 1983 hit single “68 Guns,” their 1984 debut, Declaration, then further hits like “Strength” (1985), “Rain in the Summertime” (1987), and “Rescue Me” (also 1987), The Alarm have built up one of the most fervent fan bases in the entire music industry.

This bond with his audience is something that Peters has taken very seriously right from the band’s earliest days, when he says he personally wrote back to everyone who sent him fan mail. “That’s where real bonds are created,” he says. “They don’t go away. It goes beyond the music then. People will allow you to make mistakes when they’ve got that, when they become that close to you.”

Further proof of just how close Peters is to his fans comes every year, with an event called The Gathering, where fans from around the world come to northern Wales for a long weekend of Alarm music and personal interactions with Peters and the other band members. The Gathering is now in its 28th year.

“The Gathering allows all those different tentacles of relationship-building to become reality,” Peters says, “because the Gathering isn’t just about playing music, it’s about hanging out with the fans, as well – spending the evening with them after the show, or we play soccer with them or we walk together – all kinds of interactions that are outside of the stage environment. They’re the kind of things that have been really helpful in building this strong relationship.”

The Alarm have also toured the world several times – and even there, the band’s unusually strong magnetism is on display. “We have original [band] members still come and join us at gigs, and we all get on fantastically well,” Peters says. “We’ve all got past our differences. There’s a bond there; it always comes back around. That’s one of the themes of The Alarm music: nothing is unfixable or unreachable.”

Peters has always seemed to instinctively understand what should be done next, and how to get people to join him in the effort. He formed the band in 1977 in Rhyl, Wales, though they were originally a punk band called The Toilets. When their sound evolved into the more anthemic rock that would become The Alarm’s signature sound, “I said, ‘This is so good now – [but] if we stay here, then this energy will turn in on ourselves. We have to go to a bigger base. Then we can grow and it can start to become a fire.’” Peters moved the band to London, where their career soon took off.

While Peters is grateful for the success he’s had with The Alarm, he still tries to take it in stride. “I’ve never been someone who has allowed myself to get too carried away when things are going great. I’m not too down in the dumps when things aren’t going too well, either. I just try to maintain a lot of equilibrium in the mindset about our music.”

Even someone as easygoing as Peters has been challenged by all the pandemic-related cancellations and other disruptions, though. Several planned U.S. tour dates this spring, to support the STREAM {Hurricane of Change} release were postponed.

Peters meets this setback with characteristic optimism. “We certainly will praise the day we can get back out on the road – and we’re going to be there,” he says. “It’s going to be a new frontier. There might be a chance to play gigs to 50 people, 10 people, or 5,000 people, who knows what it’s going to be? But The Alarm is prepared to work within the guidelines. Hopefully our audience will come with us, and we’ll find a new way to play rock and roll in 2021.”

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