The lead singer of The Alarm, holds forth on battling cancer, his new album and rocking in high altitudes

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Q: What are your memories of touring with U2? - Uinterview

I was sitting in a hotel room with The Edge on the War tour ... He came from a non-musical background and learned to play the guitar his own way... He didn't know the traditional way to play a bar cord. I had to show him how to do it.

Q: Tell us about your guerrilla concert in Times Square? - Uinterview

I had a guerrilla concert in Times Square today and just thought it’d be nice because the album’s come out here in America and it’s the eighth of July 2008 and we thought we’d celebrate the release of the album with a digital in store – in the street. And we had people turn up to get their albums and I performed a concert right in the center of the hustle and bustle of New York City and it was pretty crazy and it was great fun and just a nice, exciting thing to do on the day the album came out.

Q: Did any crazy fans show up? - Uinterview

The Naked Cowboy was there getting out of his Escalade [laughs] We were great, the cops, we didn’t have a permit or anything, and the cops just stood by and watched it and let us get on with it. It was great. All the usual saints and sinners of Times Square there, it was fantastic.

Q: What is it like being back with The Alarm after your solo career? - Uinterview

Well, it was a cumulative effect really because The Alarm of today started in the year 2000 and the solo band became The Alarm really because I’d inherited, got the rights to The ALARM’S back catalogue and became the curator of that and was reissuing all the albums and so we went out on tour to perform The Alarm’S greatest hits and just the music from the ‘80s, it was known, and even the original bass player came with us as well. We did try to include more of the original lineup, but it wasn’t to be. So we toured that from 2000 into 2001 and it was a really successful tour especially in Europe and we played a lot of big countries as well. And it really brought a lot of old fans out of the woodwork and they said, ‘When’s the new Alarm album coming out? When are you going to make some new music with this lineup?’ It’s a great band. We were lucky that lightning has struck on The Alarm twice with the original band and the band of today. So the challenge was to make a new album so we made five on the internet with our fans because I felt making an alarm album there was so much to say, there was a lot of gaps to fill, there was a lot of history that had been missed out on, but I’ve always written songs for the alarm so even if I was writing on a piece of work for my solo career, like Breathe, the song was a reference. So the Alarm has always been with me in my heart and it keeps growing and growing and getting more exciting.

Q: How are your US fans different from your UK fans? - Uinterview

I don’t know if they are anymore, I think they’re all – Alarm fans have this huge commonality. We have an event in Wales every year called The Gathering, lots of American fans have traveled through it, and now through the internet and the communication that we have, I think the fans are very integrated. Lots of British fans have come here to see an Alarm show in America and they’ve hooked up with American fans and everyone looks after each other and I don’t really see a distinction anymore, I think the internet has allowed us to sort that kind of thing down. American fans can find out everything that’s going on in Britain and so I don’t really think there is a difference.

Q: Why did you create The Gathering? - Uinterview

The Gathering started essentially because I got diagnosed with cancer and all of a sudden my movements around the world were restricted so I came up with the madcap idea where the fans would go on tour and I’d stay at home and we’d have an event called the Gathering and we’d draw the fans from the US, from all over the world and we’d put on a huge event that would last three days and I’m involved in all of it so it’s a real fitness marathon for me. Again, it helps to break those barriers down. You wouldn’t see me in my own hometown. I put more into it because I’m not doing the traveling, I walk down the street and strap on the guitar and then play for four or five hours or whatever is the need. And through the Gathering, because it’s our best fans from all over the world in one space, we can play every Alarm song there is, even the most obscure b-side gets treated like a massive hit record to that audience because it is your best fans. They know more about The Alarm
than even I do, but the whole band really loves it and it really is a Gathering of everything that is good about The Alarm.