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Hollywood puts Alarm stunt on film

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James McLaren James McLaren | 11:59 UK time, Thursday, 15 July 2010

Back in 2004 North Wales punk rockers The Alarm played a trick on the music industry which is now being made into a film.


In an effort to expose ageism within the industry, the band recorded a single, 45 RPM, and recruited a young local band to front the release, under the name of The Poppyfields. The swindle was a great success, as the single gained airplay and entered the charts at number 24. It soon became clear who was behind the record, and the point was made. Now the story is being made into a film called Vinyl, directed by Sara Sugarman (Very Annie Mary, Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen).

This coming week sees local young people in the north Wales area auditioning for parts in the film.

The story of Alarm singer Mike Peters' and his wife Jules' efforts to have a baby through IVF treatment - as Mike underwent treatment for leukaemia - also forms part of the film's narrative. Jules told the North Wales Daily Post, "The film is a really big thing for north Wales, it's so exciting and we want to get everyone involved.

"We are holding open auditions for local people next week so we are hoping for a good turnout... The film-makers are still casting and there has been some great interest from well-known actors in LA. With Sara being from Rhyl herself. she is totally committed to this movie."

We caught up with Jules and asked her about the film.

How did the film come to be commissioned and how long it take to get off the ground?

"Vinyl has been a few years in the making, as a Hollywood scriptwriter, Jim Cooper, picked up on the story when it hit the headlines in the USA. Mike and I first met Jim (an Alarm fan) whilst we were living in LA a few years ago. It's taken passion and belief to develop the script, especially after Sara Sugarman was brought in to the project. Sara was living in LA working as a director and ironically had grown up with Mike in Rhyl, having also been a big Alarm fan, so we were thrilled when she was introduced to the project by Shrek Producer, John H Williams."

The story of The Poppy Fields was widely reported after the 'swindle' was exposed; so was it something that really benefited the band?

"It did benefit The Alarm as the story reached all parts of the world as there was a natural empathy to the idea of ageism in any industry."

Can you remind our readers of why Mike and the band decided to run the stunt in the first place?

"The Alarm have been in existence for 30 years and whilst the loyalty of the fan base increases year by year, the music industry is extraordinarily fickle towards stalwart bands like The Stranglers, The Alarm or Stiff Little Fingers who have huge followings but don't necessarily get played on Radio 1, or other mainstream media.

"I think Mike wanted to highlight the ageism of the media and this is exactly what happened. We brought a young band to lip-synch, made a video and hey presto, all the radio stations were playing 45 RPM! The single hit the charts at Number 24. The Alarm were listening live from a Dutch tour to the countdown which was hugely exciting. We were all leaping about once we heard the chart position!"

Did the band ever think that it would work as well as it did?

"I think Mike always believes 100% in everything he does so yes, anything is possible!"

With the current crop of 'veteran' bands still touring and pulling big crowds, do you think the attitude towards older bands is changing at all?

"Absolutely. Bands like The Alarm learned their craft by undertaking huge tours throughout the world, year after year. This is how they learned to 'entertain' and why they are still so popular today. We are busier than ever.

"I have to turn tours down as The Alarm are in demand in Norway, USA, Japan, Canada and people all over the world want to be entertained. So many young bands these days don't get the opportunity to hone their craft and then it must be terrifying to step out into a huge arena without the experience of growing up on the road and learning how to connect with the audience."

When can people expect the film to be out?

"We're filming until September and then the film goes into edit so this is a question for Sara Sugarman. Sara is extremely passionate about the project as it is about her home town of Rhyl and so we are all very proud that we have reached this position of bringing Hollywood to North Wales."

This seems quite a personal story, touching as it does on your and Mike's IVF treatment. Was this as brave a decision as it might sound?

"I think Sara plucked various threads from our personal story and interweaved it with fictional bits. Sara visited us in Wales just after I had achieved pregnancy with our second son Evan (who is Dylan's conceptual twin). This was all happening as Mike was undertaking chemotherapy, so I think Sara couldn't help but pick up on the drama of it all.

"I'm more than happy to share our experiences as I know I desperately wanted to connect with someone who had knowledge of IVF at the time. If our story can give people hope to stick with arduous fertility treatment, then I'm more than happy to share our experiences. I've read the script and it is extraordinarily witty and entertaining, but don't believe everything you see once the film is released though, as some of the storylines are based on other characters from our life in north Wales.

Audition details: http://www.vinylthemovie.co.uk/drainpipe_audition.pdf

BBC Wales Arts Blog

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  • Comment number 1.

    Hmmmm. Now comes the question(s): Who will be playing Jules and who will be playing Mike when this begins filming? Either way, what a great story!

  • Comment number 2.

    What a great shout, even more emphasising the point Mike and the guys were trying to make in the first place. This kind of exposure for the band and their like is virtually priceless.

    Anyone who hasn't seen the band play live really need to. In the last two or three years I've seen some really big names perform (Papa Roach, Green Day, Def Leppard, Slipknot etc etc) and they really are up there with the best. 30 years in the business (Mike) and still managing to produce fresh material which sounds modern is surely some sort of achievement.

    Good luck with he film. I know I will be there to see it.


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