Psalms For The Deaf
Jared Paul Unleashes Prayers For Atheists
By CHRIS CONTI | July 21, 2009
Sage Francis addressed the densely-populated crowd at Rock the Bells at Comcast Center last weekend: “This song helped get a friend of mine out of jail. Thank you to all who donated. This song is called ‘Conspiracy to Riot.’ Strange Famous fucking Records, Providence.”
The crowd erupted when the beat dropped, as Sage and fellow Providence emcee B.Dolan saluted their friend and labelmate Jared Paul, a vicious spoken-word specialist who was arrested in St. Paul, Minneapolis, last summer for protesting outside the Republican National Convention. Paul was initially charged with felony riot, which got knocked down to a misdemeanor, but Paul refused to plead guilty and ConspiracyToRiot.com, a Web page to raise funds to fight the charge, was born.
“I’m thankful to Sage and Slug [from the hip-hop group Atmosphere] for posting my bond and getting it all rolling,” he said. “Folks heeded the call from all across the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. It was fantastic.”
The story is now captured on wax as Jared Paul and Alan Hague have teamed up to form Prayers For Atheists, and just released a politically-charged self-titled EP ($10 at StrangeFamousRecords.com) they call their “25-minute victory chant.” The leadoff single “Psalm for St. Paul” deftly documents Paul’s experience, powered by Hague’s chugging guitar riff. Sage Francis sent an email the day before his set at Rock the Bells:
“If you read Jared’s account of what took place at the RNC with all the arrests and his time in jail, then you know he was put through hell. The amount of coverage it received was incredible, and the donations were helpful. When Jared told me he was doing a song called ‘Psalm for St. Paul,’ I was expecting a shitstorm of vitriol. Instead, Alan and Jared deliver a dancey and positive anthem. That song made me realize that this material was going to be well-beyond what anyone was expecting.”
There’s plenty of raging against the machine on Prayers for Atheists, but Paul and Hague subtly fill your gullet with knowledge while crafting straight-up indie rock as opposed to maniacal rap-rock stuff. Paul tips his hat to Chuck D. on the outstanding “Coathangar 18” and keeps his cool on the slow-burner “Lot’s Wife,” but makes his opinion abundantly clear on the 80-second thrasher “Tom Delay.” PFA added a drummer and bassist for their nationwide tour, which starts today (the 23rd) in New York and ends on August 26 at Firehouse 13. Paul recently returned from an inspiring performance art tour with B. Dolan.
“I’ve never seen people as hopeful and motivated as they are right now,” Paul said. “President Obama has an unprecedented popularity with the American people, but we really need to keep the fire to his feet and hold him accountable just as we would any other politician.”
A mention of our governor gets Paul going.
“Don Carcieri is probably the most destructive and anti-worker governor in Rhode Island history,” he said. “I worked as a direct care counselor in group homes for many years — I was there when he managed to pull off the $10 million budget cut to the RI DCYF. That move put over 100 18- and 19-year-old group home graduates out on the street with nowhere to go. He is a despicable person.
“We’re due for a big shakeup. I gotta believe it’s coming soon.”
I asked what he would say to those who may believe protesting, particularly here in our corrupt little vacuum, is an effort in futility. “First of all, protesting is a good time. Everybody’s pissed about the way things are going down with the war and a million other things, so why not come out and give the Man a little hell for a couple hours and then go out for coffee after?”