The Alarm’s Mike Peters Discusses His Inspiring New Documentary, ‘Man in the Camo Jacket’
The story behind Mike Peters’ inspiring new documentary, Man in the Camo Jacket, actually begins with the music of the Alarm.
Peters’ will to live also comes through his charity, the Love Hope Strength Foundation, which raises funds and awareness for cancer centers around the world through music-related events and promotions. To date, LHS has added more than 129,000 music fans to the bone marrow registry, helping to find more than 2,400 potential lifesaving matches.
Man in the Camo Jacket will have its U.S. premiere in Los Angeles on April 22 and in New York on April 29. This will be followed by the Alarm’s run of live dates as part of the Vans Warped Tour.
I recently spoke to Peters about Man in the Camo Jacket, the Alarm’s upcoming tour, new music and more.
What inspired Man in the Camo Jacket?
The genesis of the film happened when I was approached by Russ Kendall from Kaleidoscope Pictures. He had been commissioned to make a series of programs for a film called A Song That Changed My Life. Russ and his crew came to Wales to film my portion. While he was there, I told him the story about our work with the charity and the bone marrow drive and he became enthralled with the whole Love, Strength, Hope story. That’s when he said, “Mike, this is more than a TV show. This has to become a film.”
He started the drive with the other producers [James Chippendale, Stash Slionski and Alex Coletti] and put the story together. The film is the coming together of a lot of people who had faith in the band and me as an individual and stood behind me through my cancer struggles, and also about the people who got on board and volunteered to give their love, hope, strength back to the world.
What’s the story behind the camouflage jacket?
When I was first diagnosed in 1995, I was due to have a bone marrow transplant. But I told the doctors I had an American tour in a few days and couldn’t cancel it. A friend of mine gave me a book about self-healing to read on the way over, and there was a chapter about a girl who had a brain tumor and created a Pac-Man game in her mind to eat it.
She wound up going into spontaneous remission and cured herself through the power of her mind. It really connected with me and made me realize I needed a defense mechanism of my own. I thought that if I was going to war with the cancer, I was going to buy an army jacket and wouldn’t take it off until I was cured.
One of the interesting parts of your musical journey was when one of your early bands, Seventeen, dissolved. It was the day you were told by the band’s manager that you’d never amount to anything musically.
That was the bottom and a terrible day, because it was also the day John Lennon died. But I saw something in myself that day. Up to that point, all I was trying to do through the band was get a record deal. I realized it shouldn’t just be about that. I thought we’ve got to put our ideals across and give something tangible to our audience through our music. Something where they can say, “Wow! Those guys mean it. Let’s apply that to our lives as well.”
I remember walking away from that moment with no anger or bitterness and later telling him, “You’re wrong. I’ll prove you wrong.” It was a wakeup call and a turning point that shocked me into real action instead of just going for a ride.
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