The Alarm may look like desperado bandits fresh off the cattle truck from Mexico, but in reality you couldn�t hope to meet four nicer boys; honest! The clothes may be black and menacing, the haircuts stiff and spiky, but underneath the tough exterior The Alarm heart ticks to a happy beat!

The four musicians from Rhyl in North Wales suddenly found their world turned upside down when their single, �68 Guns�, shot into the charts back in September �83.

�We were touring America at the time,� says guitarist Eddie McDonald, �and although we had faith in the record, we didn�t think it would go so high.�

But when it surfaced at number 50, the band was travelling by van to Boston and had no idea that they were required for their very first �Top of the Pops� appearance back in London. Patrol cars had to be sent screaming down the highway after them to relay the news and the band duly caught the next flight back to England. For The Alarm, this chaotic routine was to become a way of life over the next few months.

In the little seaside town where they grey up, they all joined different bands, but all four knew that one day they would form a band together, They waited for the right time, the right attitudes, and the right songs. The enthusiasm had always been there.

�I was in my first band when I was nine,� laughs drummer Twist. �I had one single drum and Dave had an acoustic guitar. It�s funny, it was just a hobby then. I only wanted to become a musician later on in life. At that age I wanted to be a pilot or a bio-chemist!�

Eddie, on the other hand, didn�t have any doubts about his future career.

�I was smitten by the whole music scene when I was twelve,� he recalls. �I bought my first record and I went to my first gig and after that nothing would stop me. Every spare penny I had was spent on records, posters and music papers.�

Some years later, the same kind of dedication was put into action. The Alarm had formed and realised there were limits to the success they could achieve in their home town. They made the brave decision to pack their bags and head for London. Mike, Dave and Eddie shared a tiny flat in Battersea, while Twist lived two miles down the road because they couldn�t find a place which would hold them all (Awwww!).

�At some points, the only thing that kept us going was our beliefs in the band,� states Eddie, �but that�s all we needed.� The Alarm have always been very good friends and the only thing that causes arguments between them is music.

�We never fight over girls,� says Eddie. �That�s totally stupid!� Whenever one of them gets down or feels lonely or homesick, the other three will rally round and cheer him up again; qualities which were needed when the group embarked on their first long tour of America,

The first time they visited the States they played support to U2; when they returned earlier this year it was to headline in their own right.

Touring America has brought it�s own rewards for The Alarm, including the many new additions to their wardrobe.

�Every time we stopped at a new town,� says Twist, �it was always straight into the nearest clothes shop to see what we could buy.� Prized possessions include the studded belts and beautiful intricate buckles which have become as much a part of their image as their cowboy boots.

But as The Alarm become more popular, less time is available for the little pleasures in life, like shopping.

�We don�t really live anywhere now,� says Eddie. �We live permanently out of suitcases. We�ve travelled so much and seen so many places, but we love it. The road has been very good to us so far, we�ve got a really good audience in this country and we�re building a good audience in America. It�s getting really exciting as more and more people start to discover the band.�

And it�s just as exciting for those who have always known the band. �Our parents have always been right behind us,� says Eddie. I know it sounds daft, but it�s just when you�re travelling up and down the country, living out of a van and you haven�t got any money and you desperately want a new pair of jeans, that�s the time your parents will help. It�s just the little things like that all the way along that keep you going.�

�The most Important thing to the group is feel�, says leas vocalist Mike Peters, both in the studio and in live performances. We try to inject our personalities into everything we do, and if it doesn�t feel 100 per cent right, we just don�t do it.�

And this is something that they project through their music.

�We don�t exactly have a message for everyone,� concludes Eddie, �it�s more something which we�ve learned through our own personal experience. When times are hard or difficult, we�re trying to uplift people. We believe a lot in personal experience. When times are hard or difficult, we�re trying to uplift people. We believe a lot in personal ambition; people tend to get stopped at the first hurdle in life and we think that you should never stop. You�ve got to keep going, get over that fence.

The Alarm themselves have crossed many bridges and jumped lots of fences. Let�s hope they stay the course for a long time to come!