My Alarm Story – Mike Nolan

This is the story of one mans Alarm Journey from seeing ‘The Stand’ on TV many years ago, and his journey from Canada to his very first Gathering in 2013.

Like many, my Alarm story begins with “The Stand” video. I saw it on Much Music (Canadian MTV) and was instantly blown away by these young lads with the boots and the punked out hair! It was an amazing mix of acoustic and electric with powerful, passionate vocals and a rebellious attitude! My best friend, whose Irish uncle lived with them, was the first one of us to own Declaration and we’d play the cassette late into the night over pints (and whiskey when the beer ran out), marveling at the power and merits of each song with their catchy hooks with the strong backing vocals!

I received “Strength” from the same friend for my birthday and was just as impressed with the song writing (full of tempo changes and surprises). We finally got to see The Alarm live shortly after, at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada on November 11,1985. (I still have a set list, broken drumstick and playing card from the show.) From the first chords of “Majority” to the last chants from “The Stand” it was an all out audio assault. The next summer we had an Alarm party while watching the band live from UCLA on MTV (Spirit of ’86 is a must have for any fan!) I caught the original Alarm twice more (back to back nights in Montreal and Ottawa) as they opened for Bob Dylan while touring “Eye Of The Hurricane”. I still get goosebumps and it brings back brilliant memories when I hear Peters’ speech during “Rescue Me” on “Electric Folklore Live”.

I was very disappointed when The Alarm broke up. However, several years later, I stumbled across a Mike Peters solo album and was drawn in once again! I was skeptical when Mike decided to reform The Alarm with new members, but that skepticism quickly turned to excitement! The new Alarm was every bit as powerful and even had more of a punk edge not to mention that the whole 45 RPM scandal was brilliant! In September 2010, I finally got to see the new band live. My wife, son and I made the eight hour trip from Ottawa to Boston and Mike and the boys did not disappoint! I had an opportunity to meet Mike the afternoon of the show and he was unbelievably kind and generous with his time. I also met a guy (Rob Rushing) from Nashville who came up to volunteer at the Love, Hope, Strength booth at the show. We became friends and kept in touch. He is now tour manager for LHS in Denver. He is attending his first Gathering this year and he along with my wife Maggie convinced me to make the trip from Canada for my first. I’ve always wanted to go, but so far had settled for watching The Gathering DVDs at home (telling Maggie “I’m off to The Gathering”, with a pint in one hand and a DVD in the other, while heading to the basement with my headphones!). I can’t wait to see The Alarm on their home turf with all the Alarm faithful. But, for as much as I love The Alarm music, I am even more impressed with the passion and loyalty they show their fans! Mike Peters’ perseverance and hard work (musically and through his work with LHS) should be inspirational to all!!

Mike Nolan