Welsh rock legend Mike Peters had a difficult year as he worked through writing his new record ‘Forwards’. Suffering from pneumonia and a relapse of leukaemia, he was hospitalised, and at one stage barely able to speak, but still found time to record, with the sounds of the hospital seeping into his record. His band, The Alarm, are now ready for the starkest of comebacks.
“While I was playing guitar, I found myself unconsciously playing along to the beeps of the heart monitors or the IV alarms,” Peters says. “Like a lot of nurses will attest, there is something maddeningly catchy about the beep of the IV alarm that you can’t get out of your head. The sound of the hospital played like a click track in my head and the final song on the new album, ‘X’, is probably the best example of this with its recurring guitar loop and chord sequence.”
The Alarm have been called, by Bono, “the second greatest band in the world.” Peters is more modest, but has high hopes for the latest return, nonetheless. “Myself and the band played four of the songs at our recent The Gathering event and they seemed to connect really well with all the fans,” he says. “I’m hoping the record adds to the legacy of The Alarm and also connects to an audience who might be unfamiliar with the music, but intrigued by the presence of a band that has been around for a long time. Put it this way, I think it’s one of the best The Alarm has ever made, so make of that what you will.”
“I have made four albums in the Welsh language and am fairly aware of what goes on within the language and culture,” Peters say reflecting on his broader career. “My kids both attend Welsh language school and play piano, guitar and drums. They are always bringing music home with them, and all that keeps you grounded in Welsh culture.”
“Like a lot of people from my generation, we care more about Welsh culture now than we did when growing up, especially being brought up in a predominantly English-speaking town like Rhyl. The introduction and acceptance of bilingualism and devolution have enabled people to connect with the culture whether they speak the language or not and that is having a profound effect on the future of the culture and the country itself.”
“Hospital IV therapy sessions every two weeks is what I have to look forward to,” Peters laugh as he looks to the future, “and hopefully for as long as the drugs keep working. I’m having to learn to work my rock and roll into all of that now, but I’ll find a way to keep playing don’t you worry.”
“I was in hospital for such a long time that all the other patients would ask me questions about my life on the stage – and the things they seemed to be intrigued by most were the stories I have about singing with the likes of Bob Dylan, Bono and Bruce Springsteen. The fact that I have sung with all these people (and many more) seemed to impress my fellow patients more than anything else.”
“I have actually felt more energised following my hospitalisation. I am finally on a drug regime that has my blood count fully under control. Of course, there is a trade off in that I have to be in hospital every two weeks for IV therapies and that brings some complications, but I am grateful to be alive and thankful for the days ahead.”
“I had to do everything I could to stay alive and having my guitar in hospital focused my mind on a positive outcome. I was looking for a way forwards.”
The new album from The Alarm, ‘Forwards’, is out on June 2.
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