Prayers for Atheists take it personally

Rising against
By CHRIS CONTI  |  May 4, 2011


Prayers for Atheists follow up their 2009 debut EP with a full-length punk scorcher, New Hymns for an Old War (May 10 on their PFA Records imprint), providing plenty of wake-the-fuck-up diatribes from two knowledgeable, highly proactive rabble-rousers, guitarist Alan Hague and vocalist Jared Paul (bassist Matt Gilroy and drummer Marco Aveledo round out the quartet). No one is exempt from PFA's shitlist, and this country continues to offer plenty of fuel for the band's politically-charged firestorm of topics.

Spoken word/poetry slam veteran Paul was raised in Providence and later moved to Manville. He initially entered the political arena during his time at Lincoln High School, where he was student council president and worked with the lieutenant governor as part of the RI Boys State Congress in his junior year. Or, as Paul put it, "Just playtime at mock two-party system training ground bullshit."

Iconic local wordsmith Sage Francis awakened Paul's budding poetry skills and desire to affect global change; Francis would eventually release the PFA EP debut on his Strange Famous Records.

"Sage took me to my first poetry reading in the Student Union coffeehouse while we were both studying at URI, where I heard poems covering class struggle, racism, and injustice," he recalled. "I had a nervous awakening that night, and from there on out, I couldn't look away.

"I was on fire to learn about why these things were happening, why no one had told me, and what I could do to stop them."

Although Paul was arrested in 2008 at the Republican National Convention as part of a sit-in protest, he doesn't exactly support the current administration.

"I will never vote or campaign for a Democrat again in my life," Paul told me earlier this week, checking in from an environmental rights event in Seattle. "Obama is part of the capitalist shitstorm, and he took Bush's bank bailout baton like they were two track meet runners on the same relay team."

PFA co-founder Hague attended Durfee High School in Fall River, but didn't step into the activism arena until a few years later when he joined the 250,000-plus protesters in DC in 2005. "I was so pissed reading about the Iraq war every day, I felt I had no choice but to get involved and do what I could to stop it," Hague said. He also sounds dismissive of Obama's plans and policies.

"Maybe we need the absurdity of a Trump presidency," he continued, "that way America will be forced to make up its mind — either we'll reverse course and age gracefully, or Trump will play a fiddle made out of his own hair while Rome v2.0 burns."

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