Celebrating Life: The Alarm takes cancer struggles and turns them into rock songs

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

The Alarm’s singer Mike Peters lives by the mantra “Fear is the worst thing we have.”

Peters and his wife, Jules, have a lot to be afraid of. He’s recovering from lymph cancer and leukemia and she battled through breast cancer.

“The best thing is setting yourself free from fear, to discard things you don’t need anymore or embrace new things you might be afraid of,” Peters says.

Jules, he says, is “doing fantastic” and is readying a BBC documentary about her cancer journey. Peters was diagnosed in 1995, so his wife has been his caregiver for more than 20 years.

“I thought I took the cancer bullet for the family,” he says. “But then it hits Jules and sucks her into this whirlpool of treatments, tests, biopsies and second opinions. Then there’s all sorts of radiation therapies, ultrasounds, X-rays and MRI scans. It never stops.”

Jules was diagnosed with breast cancer on camera while the BBC was filming a documentary about Peters, his charity and The Alarm.

“They literally recorded it on film straightaway,” he adds. “The camera was a therapist to us. It was a third person to talk to. They asked probing questions that we might not have asked ourselves and it helped me realize the gravity of the situation, more than it might have done.”

While Jules was ill, Peters penned the album Equals, The Alarm’s first album since 2010’s Direct Action. The 11-song collection features Jules playing piano and singing backup vocals, as she does in concert.

“A lot of the songs were written when my wife was going through a breast cancer experience,” he says. “I relapsed (with leukemia) and found myself in a place where I was feeling incredible emotions – uncertainty, fear, doubt, euphoria.

“‘Two Rivers’ kicks off the album and it’s a good place to do so,” he says. “It’s something to make our audience sit up and take notice. It allowed them to follow the journey into the album to see what’s going on.”

The concerts are anything but sad. They’re upbeat experiences, according to Peters.

“We celebrate life when we come on stage,” he says. “We might talk about hardships and tough challenges in our music. It’s because we’ve been able to live and tell the tale.”

more info

What: The Alarm

When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, August 22

Where: 191 Toole, 191 E. Toole Avenue

Cost: $24-$26

Info: 445.6425, 191toole.com

The Alarm celebrates life during its shows, despite the health challenges of singer Mike Peters and his wife, Jules. (Photo courtesy The Alarm)