On Saturday 10th December 1994, Mike Peters returned to the Brixton Academy for the first time since he announced his decision to leave The Alarm. 21st Century was there to record his feelings.
Mike, tonight will be the first time you’ve played at Brixton Academy since you left The Alarm. What are your feelings ?
The announcement I made that night shocked a lot of people. It was also a shock for myself. It’s never easy to make an announcement that you’re leaving a band, and I didn’t really want to be misconstrued by anybody, so I decided rightly or wrongly to announce it from the stage. It wasn’t an easy thing to do for anybody and you can almost feel the echo of that emotion. I can feel it right now. Just standing here brings it all back. It’s something that you can’t explain in words and I’m sure the people coming here tonight to see me play will empathise with the feelings going through my mind.
How did you feel when you left the stage ?
I felt nothing at first – just a numbness that was all over me, all-consuming. I didn’t want to stay behind to explain what I had done. I couldn’t explain it properly to this day. It was something very instinctive. I left the building and drove home to Wales that night. Once the numbness wore off I felt that a burden had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt a freedom which I hadn’t felt for a long time. That’s not to say that that free feeling was something gay, or careless, or an abandonment. It was nothing like that. Sometimes the freedom can be a very heavy weight in itself, and in the pursuit of freedom you have to make some very difficult choices. I realised that for the sake of my personal and musical liberty I had to break free from The Alarm and strike out for a new chapter.
What does The Alarm mean to you now ?
I only ever have fond memories of The Alarm. The Alarm is still extremely special to me, and every moment I shared with the band, with Eddie, Dave, and Nigel is very, very special. I always look back on it very fondly now. Whenever I play the songs live I feel a great excitement and I don’t feel ashamed of that excitement. I don’t feel guilty for playing Alarm songs. They are Mike Peters songs. I wrote them. I recorded them with different musicians than I am playing with today. But that does not alter the fact that they were excellent songs and they still stand up now. In the case of some of them, the likes of which I’ve been playing on this Tour – Deeside, for instance – it’s as if they have matured over the years and taken on a deeper meaning. I think quite probably that now I’m not in The Alarm, the band takes on a greater meaning for myself.
You’re back here now as a solo artist. What is different about coming back to Brixton, and touring as a solo performer ?
Brixton seems quite different now, having not been here for a few years. When I look around it doesn’t seem the same place anymore. It’s still here, I’m still here, but it seems like a challenge again now. Maybe when I was last here with The Alarm, in my heart I knew it was the end of the road, and in my actions it became the end of the road. But tonight it feels like the start of something.
Do you see this gig as a turning point ?
I think being here today has helped me come to terms with the reasons why I left The Alarm. It’s another part of the healing process. I never really thought I could step foot in here – I certainly cannot watch the video of the final show that we played here. But maybe after I’ve played the show tonight I’ll be able to look back on it again and see it for what it was. In my mind I remember it being an absolutely incredible show and I remember it flashing by. I knew what was going to happen as soon as we started the set. I put everything I had into that gig, and for me it was probably the greatest Alarm show ever. The actual intensity of the show that night has probably been clouded over by the announcement at the end, but it was a fitting last testament to a great band.
And the future ?
The future is out there and I’ve got to go and take it. It seems like a really big challenge now – a bigger challenge than ever coming back to Brixton Academy – and I feel like I’m ready for it. I think things are really just starting to take off again. This is the new beginning. I’ve sung the ‘New Chapter’, but there was a lot of loose ends that needed tying up and now I feel like I’m ready to step forward into the future. I’m ready for that challenge. There will be a lot of touring, and a lot of records, and a lot of songs to write. That’s what I do best. I don’t like raking the coals over the past. I feel like I’ve put it behind me. The past isn’t a burden, but adds to the whole story that is about to unfold.
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