Following Mike Peters major undertaking for 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 are releasing their new album EQUALS, out on 29th June, via The Twenty First Century Recording Company.
EQUALS is The Alarm’s first mainstream album release 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, was diagnosed with breast cancer just 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 and on the Blood Red Viral Black Sessions), EQUALS features all new recordings and mixes that were created in 2018 and 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. Joined by Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros drummer Smiley and guitarist James Stevenson, (who cut his teeth with Chelsea, Gen X and The Cult), this new 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.
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 charity 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 in adversity is truly something special.
“The endgame of any creative period is always to share the results with an audience. 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. Nearly all of the music on ‘Equals’ has been road tested and already part of The Alarm DNA, 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.”