Prayers (not to be confused with the defunct San Diego band THE Prayers) is a killwave group founded around 2013 by Rafael Reyes (Latin Lovers, Baptism of Thieves), former frontman for defunct pop-goth band Vampire, and electronic artist Dave Parley (Latin Lovers). Their visual iconography can only be described as Mad Max villains emerging from a violent sandstorm in order to invoke the devil.
“Killwave, occultwave, [and] shadowave are all outlets that I use to expose and celebrate fragments of who I am, may it be my vulnerability or, at times, my ego,” says Reyes, a self-described “cholo goth” musician whose numerous projects revolve around his autobiographical troika of invented genres.
An early video for “From Dog to God” provides a good idea of what killwave is all about: esoteric imagery, a tattoo-spackled Reyes applying cholo goth makeup, MPC monster Dave Parley’s beard, black nail polish, themes of isolation and betrayal, danceable beats, and cathedral spire synths.
Reyes' other band projects include Sons of the Moon with Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession), his solo project Nite Ritual (which includes local rapper Amer the Gamer), and Ermavip with Vampire guitarist Ian Dosland. In early 2014, a gothic vampire-themed video for “Ready to Bleed,” directed by frontman Rafael Reyes and shot on the streets of Sherman Heights, began streaming online.
Prayers' 2015 Young Gods EP was produced by Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker, thanks to a Prayers gig at a late-2014 art show at L.A.’s Known Gallery. As Reyes told the Reader, “Travis Barker’s photographer happened to be there. He told Travis about it who reached out to us on Instagram and told us he really liked what we were doing.”
Young Gods was released on Barker’s LaSalle Records label with the Blink-182 drummer replacing the drum machine the Prayers use on tour. Barker also played drums at the sold-out Young Gods record release show June 23, 2015 at the Roxy in West Hollywood.
A new single was released in early 2016, “Black Leather,” featuring Kat Von D (who also appeared in a video for the track and would, two years later, marry Prayers singer Leafar Seyer), in advance of their Baptism of Thieves EP (named after Reyes' first band). The band also played Coachella that April.
In late 2017, they teamed with original members of goth rockers Christian Death for a new single, “Cursed Be Thy Blessings.” Their full-length album version of Baptism of Thieves was released in December, promoted with a video for "Edge of the Blade." February 2018 saw another video for a song from that album, "One 9 One 3," co-starring L.A. model Charlie Qu.
By 2020, the band was pared down to a duo, Leafar Seyer and Dave Parley. That summer, they released a new single and video called “CHOLOANI.” Filmed in high desert of central Tseewahktehtlahn, the oral history in video form features Teypohs’weepeehl (Iron Jacket), a member of the Chichimeca tribe who shares the history of modern day cholo subculture from its cholani origin.
Says Seyer, “The yauh’kweehkahtseehntleeh or sacred opposition song that Teypohs’weepeehl sings is over 30,000 years old and has not been heard for 300 years by anyone outside of the few remaining, language speaking, traditional cheecheemehkah who have still kept this tradition and custom.” The CHEECHEEMEKAH KWACHEECKAY warrior society went underground after the scalplock bans of the 16th century, and then became the choloani of the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, later evolving into the cholo of the 20th century.
A song and video for “La Vida Es Un Sueno” dropped in September 2020.