Society has shifted since Covid welcomed itself into our everyday lives. We are in isolation; many people feel disconnected from the lack of human contact, times are difficult.

Mike Peters, the lead vocalist for The Alarm, spoke over the phone about how people's mindsets during Covid has led our communities to think the pandemic will last forever. Frustration brought together the soundtrack of their new album WAR as a way for the band members to release their emotions.

"We are going to get through this," he says. "It is the same situation across the world. For me, it was when the Capitol Building was at a tipping point with the Trump riots that I knew we had to release an album during the pandemic."

Mike says the album had to be released now to spread the message of empowerment; that one day soon, we will take control of our lives again.

The Alarm has been using music to express emotions to fans in a way that makes both the band and fans feel connected.

It connects because art is a big part of our lives. it helps our mental health, after a long day of work, it can help to put your favourite album on and relax. Music is important.

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This year marks The Alarm's 40th anniversary. Covid has forced the concerts into a new environment, away from venues and into living rooms. With the challenges Covid has given the world, the band is staying at home but still interacting with the fans.

It hardly seems revolutionary now, but in 1995 The Alarm was one of the first bands to have a website. Now in 2021, there is a new phase in the evolution of The Alarm fanbase: The Alarm Central. The Alarm Central offers content that is not in the public domain. There are exclusive recordings from live performances that would overload other music platforms where the focus is on album streams.

"We care about our fans just as much as they care about us," says Mike. "I am a fan of The Alarm as well, so a place for all the music is great."

After talking about the universal challenges of Covid and how it's shaped the band, Mike discusses the essential part music plays in one's life when faced with more personal challenges. A challenge we both share is cancer. The barrier between celebrity and reporter crumbles when discussing our journeys with this illness.

We discuss how when you're in hospital feeling tired and sick, music and the arts makes chemotherapy just a little bit easier than it would be without. To Mike, he thinks it is important that music comes into your life when dealing with a diagnosis. Music lifts your spirits; any art form can.

"When I had my first chemotherapy session, I was in a bad way; I felt like I was fading out of life," he says. "Music helped me through it.

"When I was diagnosed, I had to go for immediate treatment. Jules, my wife, went home to get my bags to go to a hospital in Bangor. When Jules arrived with my headphones, I asked the nurses if I could listen to some music while I deal with this."

He said the song In A Big Country by Big Country came on first. Mike sang me the lyrics that reminiscently paralleled with how he felt at that moment in time:

In a big country dreams stay with you 

Like a lover's voice fires the mountainside 

Stay alive 

"Funnily enough, we had recorded an album before my diagnosis, which ironically was called Under Attack," he says. "I didn't know why I named it that at the time. There were the July bombings that happened in 2005. So, I thought about those kinds of disruptions in life sending out distress signals for many people. About how people feel unsafe about the world and living in until choas calms down again.

"It was probably something to do with that, but also, I realise that I was very ill while I was making the record, I didn't know it. I think my subconscious was trying to tell me I was actually under attack."

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"I put the album's records on my iPod so I could go for a run to see which tracks flowed into each other. I wanted to create a natural flow without me writing out a set sequence. A song came on, and it went 'try to stop me.' It was so fresh I didn't recognise it due to the stressful situation I was in. Then the words 'I will never give up without a fight' came on. I thought to myself: this is exactly what I am going to do.

"My subconscious knew there was an internal battle in my immune system. It was initially directing my brain, I just couldn't translate the signals. It wasn't until a doctor read my blood levels and realise it was off the charts that we knew I had cancer. "

Music has kept Mike Peters alive. As his cancer journey became public, as well as that of his wife Jules, who had breast cancer, they have met so many people who have said music has kept them strong through challenging times, especially through the process of chemotherapy. When things have gone dark, people have gone to music. It reminds us life is special and beautiful. Music gives us a light at the end of the tunnel to recovery.

When someone is diagnosed with cancer, they go over a fence, a fence they can never go back through. Your life changes forever. Mike's life has been scarred internally and externally by cancer. His diagnosis has affected his work and always will in some shape or form. However, he has such an appreciation for every moment in life. Every day he says he wakes up and he is glad to be alive. His optimism about life is refreshing; Mike will never give up without a fight.

The Alarm’s new album ‘WAR’ is out now (via 21st Century Recordings/InGrooves)