LONDON (Reuters) - An ageing rock group gave themselves a facelift by getting a group of teenagers to stand in for them on the video of their latest song, helping them score their first chart hit for some 15 years. Convinced the music industry is prejudiced against wrinkly rockers, The Alarm gave themselves the pseudonym The Poppyfields and persuaded a group of fresh-faced youths to mime their part."They did it to show they wanted to be judged on music and not on their image and haircuts of 15 years ago," said a spokesman for the band. The single, 45RPM, went into the UK charts this week at number 28. The Welsh band were previously best known for 1983 hit "68 guns" and said they pulled the stunt to show how much image affected sales in the music industry.
Twenty years after the Alarm fired off "68 Guns," the group is back on the charts...but nobody knew it. Disguised as a younger outfit called the Poppyfields, the band - best known in the U.S. for Eighties anthems like "The Stand," "Strength," and "Rain in the Summertime" - landed a Top Thirty single in the U.K. this week with "45 RPM," thanks to a video featuring the Welsh band the Wayriders lip-synching the tune.
"We weren't trying to be malicious," says Mike Peters, the group's founder and only original remaining member, by phone from his native Wales. "We were just trying to open the debate up, because there's so much music that gets played based on image. These days the song and the content get left behind. But now the song kind of squashes the assumption that new music has to be made by new groups. Ultimately, the hope is that maybe now people will sit up and listen to our records again."
Peters - who is considered a folk hero in his native Wales and is slated to be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at tonight's Welsh Music Awards in Cardiff - says the song is also set for The Poppyfields, the Alarm's forthcoming album. Produced by Steve Brown (the Cult, Manic Street Preachers), the disc was recorded with guitarist James Stevenson, formerly of Generation X and Chelsea, bassist Craig Adams, once of goth rockers the Mission U.K., and drummer Steve Grantley, who did time in Stiff Little Fingers.
"When we finished '45 RPM,' I was very excited about what we were doing," Peters explains. "So I figured I'd send it around in an unmarked sleeve to a few DJs and promotions people just to see what the reaction might be. People were like, 'This is great! Are you managing them?' But I didn't let on."
Then last November, during an Alarm show at the Knitting Factory in New York, Peters introduced the new song after informing the crowd that he had been to see punk vets Rancid play the night before. "The next day we got tons of emails from folks who had been in the audience who hadn't heard me properly," Peters explains. "They thought it was a Rancid cover. So I thought, there's some mileage in the song. We decided to go the whole way and put the record out with a virtual band name."
Peters credits the Wayriders' convincing miming abilities: "When we finished the video, I played it for the guy who does all of our album sleeves and artwork. He had no idea it was us. He said, 'God, it's amazing. They even sound like you!'"
As for Eddie MacDonald, Nigel Twist and Dave Sharp, the other founding members of the Alarm, Peters says that there's an open door for them to hop up onstage with the current incarnation of the band at any time. "I was really pleased with how things worked out when we did our VH1 Bands Reunited episode," he says. "It was nice that we were able to close that chapter of the group respectfully."
JOHN D. LUERSSEN
(February 20, 2004)
Ageing post-punks THE ALARM have scored an unlikely chart hit by disguising themselves as a young, unknown band.
This week’s UK single chart features a previously unknown band The Poppy Fields, whose single "45 Rpm" entered the UK charts at Number 28.
However, all is not what it seems. The Poppyfields are actually The Alarm, who have been replaced in the video by the new teenage band.
Singer Mike Peters told BBC news the release was to show that image was important in today’s musical climate.
He commented: "We decided we would do something where it was judged purely on its own musical value. The Alarm as an entity have been going for 20-odd years and history can go against you - we wanted to break the barrier down. We wanted the song to be judged on its merits and stir up the water a little bit, break the mould."
I WOULD like to take my hat off to mulleted Welsh rockers THE ALARM.
They’ve cheekily managed to sabotage this week’s singles charts without anyone noticing.
The Eighties post-punk four-piece got to No28 by masquerading as young hopefuls.
Calling themselves THE POPPYFIELDS they released a single called 45RPM and filmed a video featuring a teenage band from Chester called The Wayriders.
Original singer MIKE PETERS pulled the stunt to expose the singles charts as image over substance. He says: "If it had been released as The Alarm it would have been dismissed as the work of a bunch of has-beens. Radio stations wouldn’t have played it if they had known it was us."
Mike reckons record companies and broadcasters are insulting teenage music fans by writing off musicians over 35 years of age.
He says: "I’ve seen teenagers buying the latest records by THE STROKES and THE WHITE STRIPES as well as records by LED ZEPPELIN and the ROLLING STONES. Sadly everything in the UK has to fit into neat little boxes."
The Alarm landeten Ende Februar einen Coup, der gewisse Mechanismen des Pop-Geschäfts entlarvt: Um, wie Bandboss Mike Peters sagt, "nicht an Alter, Historie oder Image, sondern an der Musik gemessen zu werden", veröffentlichten sie ihre neue Single "45rpm" unter dem Namen The Poppy Fields und ließen im Video die Teenager-Band The Wayriders mimen. Mit Erfolg: Die Single stieg auf Platz 28 in die britischen Charts ein, das Presseecho war das gewaltigste in 20 Alarm-Jahren. Peters, der bei den Welsh Music Awards mit einem "Lifetime-Achievement-Award" ausgezeichnet wurde, meint: "Das war nicht böse gemeint. Aber es zeigt, dass neue Musik nicht unbedingt von neuen Bands gemacht werden muss"