Mike Peters - vocalist, guitar; Nigel Twist - drums; Eddie McDonald - bass, vocals; Dave Sharp - lead guitar, vocals
Mike Peters can still recall the moment, in 1980, when he came to realize precisely "what direction I wanted to move in life." At the time, Peters was an ex-member of Seventeen, a Mod revival band from the Welsh town of Rhyl, who'd managed one single and a tour with the Jam before their ambitions all went pear-shaped. Since then, he'd been running a club and a clothing stall in town, but the band members didn't fall out of touch, and a few months after Peters' Marquee epiphany, in April, 1981, Dave Sharp, Nigel Twist and Eddie MacDonald were all back rehearsing together. Just two years after that, they were preparing to take their first steps into American soil supporting their close friends, U2.
Within six months of forming, the group was recording their first single; within a year, they had a major label deal. And in between, they came to the attention of U2 manager Paul McGuiness, who promptly arranged for The Alarm to tour Britain with his group. The partnership gelled from the outset. Though The Alarm made no secret of their love for U2, they had taken that initial inspiration into a whole new realm of musical insurgency. The sound of The Alarm was rousing, marching, disaffected, an impassioned roar which turned every chord into an anthem, every word into a battle cry. Their amplifiers ate electricity for breakfast, but they spat it back with an almost unplugged air, not too surprising as Peters often wrote and composed with an acoustic guitar. It was fierce music, it was fighting music, and U2 - who weren't beyond a bit of the old rabblerousing themselves - knew instinctively that they'd found their musical soulmates.
Still, the American tour, which lasted through the month of June, 1983, was a challenge for The Alarm. "We had to prove ourselves every night in front of thousands of U2 fans," Dave Sharp recollected. "But we liked the fact that the audience could decide for themselves what to think of us." Every night, the roars for The Alarm were still echoing even as U2 prepared to take the stage for themselves, and overnight, with both KROQ is Los Angeles and WBCN in Boston pledging their support to The Alarm's unique excitement, a five-song EP comprising the band's best loved anthems slammed into the Billboard chart and stayed there for the next four months.
Known best for their concert performances, even The Alarm's staunchest supporters admitted that the group's records rarely caught the full impact of their live show, but there was something even more exciting about their act the night the King Biscuit Flower Hour caught them in concert. After their first Top 20 hit in England - "Sixty Eight Guns" - they were back in America for the third time in less than a year, for a handful of east coast thank you shows, and the biggest radio broadcast of their lives. On paper, The Alarm's KBFH show is representative of all their gigs that fall. The Alarm offered listeners something to believe in - and those listeners took it with open arms. The story, of course, did not end when the tapes turned off that night, and the last delirious fans set off for home. The Alarm continued playing with the same strength and conviction they had started with, releasing albums and touring into the '90s until Peters and Sharp departed to embark on solo careers. Though there were several reunion appearances through the decade, it wasn't until 2004 that a revamped lineup released a new album, In the Poppy Fields.