Mike Peters, Eddie Macdonald Interview 1986

Interview with Mike Peters and Eddie Macdonald undated in 1986 but after UCLA performance. and before Queen at Wembley.

Mike: 20,000 people and we’d broadcast it live right across America and Canada and various parts of Europe on satellite, and er, it’s probably the biggest event we’ve ever done in the history of The Alarm

Interviewer: Is this something you really built up towards?  How long’s that been planned, how long has that concert been planned for

Mike: We planned it about six months ago when we made the Strength album we wanted to have some kind of big event that everyone can be involved in and erm we picked California because it meant it was a good time for everywhere around the world, it was 3 o’clock here in the afternoon in California and also it was 11 o’clock at night in Britain and in rest of Europe.

Interviewer: Of course, no-one gets to see it in Britain then?

Mike: No, we hope that someone will take it live but no-one would actually take it in Britain but we will be broadcasting it live in Britain on May the 7th.

Interviewer: Goes out May the 7th on the BBC.

Mike: On the BBC.

Interviewer: (chuckles) Erm, I noticed, I was at the concert, I noticed that there was an incredibly strong Alarm following in the States and it’s quite similar to Britain you’re not you don’t seem to achieve mass status yet in America but certainly you are not out of the limelight.

Mike: No, we’ve definitely got a very big undercover following, and we can play to probably about   four/five thousand people in most cities now; and erm this show has really raised people’s consciousness of The Alarm to quite a heavy state of awareness now, people are very aware of the band now and aware of the signs of following up and a lot more people do take us a bit more seriously than they do.

Interviewer: Eddie, you seem to be spending a long time in the States of late, I mean, you’ve done a couple of months here and I think you’re here for a couple months more.  Aren’t any of the British fans going to feel like they are getting neglected a little bit?

Eddie: There’s always a danger that when a group starts out, I think, we didn’t set ourselves up automatically that we were gonna do an album to album to album tour, and we tried to avoid that straight away.  That’s why we toured Britain and tried to see, let everyone in Britain get to know the band a bit better, that’s why we did the tour before we actually recorded the album.  We sort of, getting back, getting your feet on the ground.

Interviewer: That was about a year ago now, wasn’t it?

Eddie: That’s right, yeah. So it meant that when the album came out it seemed sort of daft to go straight back and play the same sort of show again.  Y’know, you don’t want to pay money out to come see the band, that we know the support to The Alarm has been very loyal and we are very aware of that, so it meant that we came here first of all to do that, we did a three and a half week tour of America to just like get into the tour of the actual album, and we went straight back to Britain and did a month there, then went to Europe and then we came back here and we were sort of in a bit of a quandary what to do next about touring because we didn’t want to go straight back to Britain because they’ve said they’ve just seen a show, like, we’ve done two tours already.  So, I mean, we tried to put the single out and ‘Spirit’ we were really amazed when Spirit went in the charts, y’know it was a great feeling for us.  Cos’, y’know, we’re not known as sort of a chart successful band, as anyone probably listening to this programme knows that.

Interviewer: It’s been a long time since you’ve had a hit single, hasn’t it?

Eddie: Yeah

Interviewer: I mean, despite the success of the albums, I think a lot of people think that The Alarm are simply not a singles band, the Spirit of ’76 was a big success for you, if I’m right, it’s actually been the biggest selling single now for you?

Mike: It certainly has, yeah.  It’s actually not even dropped out of the charts since, since it came in it’s stayed in the lower end of the charts ever since it came out as a single.

Interviewer: Which is great, ‘cos that song have a lot to do, erm blimey it was obvious from the time of Spirit of ‘76 and you made it very clear from the interviews about the punk influence on the song, you also took quite a bit of stick for it.

Mike: You know, I think people quite easily forget how important those influences were, a lot of people have tried to bury punk rock and bury what it stood for.  As if it became the rock n roll swing ball, and it became the big joke.  But it was very important and without punk rock there’d be no Bob Geldof, there’d be no Live Aid, there’d be no U2, there’d be no Alarm, there’d be no revitalised EMI, there’d be no revitalised music programmes on the BBC, it gave everybody a big kick up the backside.  And I think it’s now, 10 years down the line, that you really are getting to feel how important it was and I think it’s something that’s not to be scorned but something to be looked back at and be remembered with respect and reaffirmation of some of those values. 

Interviewer: Hmm, I’m sure a lot of people will agree with you on that but er, at the same time the only, er um, you’re coming back after your America tour you’re playing those two Wembley shows with Queen and Status Quo which are very very large open air shows, I mean that was the sort of thing that er that in 1976 the punks were against really, those big open air events, where it was felt that it’s not a contact between the crowd and the audience.

Mike: That’s right, yeah, I agree wholeheartedly with that but I think that  we can learn that from those mistakes from those groups that were playing the stadiums then didn’t even want a contact from the audience, they didn’t make any, they didn’t write songs about the people that were coming to  see them, they were all about mystical places in the sky.

Interviewer: Now are Queen very much part of that?

Mike: Yes, I believe so, they are.  But I think if you don’t go in and take them on and challenge them with your own music, if you stay away from it then nothing’s gonna happen.  But I think you’ve got to go those areas where change needs to be made and try it from within rather than say we we’ll never play a stadium.  It’s inevitable you’ve got to go there sometime as more and more people want to see the band, and we’ve got to go in there and see what we can do and see if we like it or not.  We might not enjoy it and might never play them again.

Interviewer: Are these the only shows you are doing in Britain this summer?

Mike: No, there’ll be others, it’ll be secret, small gigs and clubs for our fans.

Interviewer: You seem to be very keen on doing that of late, so em…

Mike: A lot of groups are known as a staging group and that’s it and that’s all they are and nothing else.  With The Alarm I believe we can be, we can play the stage and gig and play a great gig there but we can also play club, we can also do a free show for 20,000 people in the open air, we can also do a gig with Queen at Wembley Stadium, we can also do a club in the International club in Manchester or The Marquee, and that is the difference The Alarm can transcend and work on all sorts of different gigs.

Interviewer: You did The Marquee last autumn actually, didn’t you?

Mike: That’s right.

Interviewer: You did the couple of secret shows, I think, very secret.

Mike: (laughing) The first night was the one of the best kept secrets in London.

Interviewer:  I heard you were in fact inside out

Mike: Laughing, that’s life. 

Transcribed by S J Henry from the original interview.

The audio of this interview can be listened to via this link – Audio Link

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