What do you get when you cross hard rock, Christian lyrics, and conservative politics? The answer, “20 lb Sledge”–a southern California band that describes their music as a “wave after wave of sonic body blows, juicy melodies and lyrics, barkin’ with a bite of sharp-toothed defense of faith and patriotism.”
20 lb Sledge is the brain child of drummer, Alfonzo Rachel. In 2008, he realized he needed Christ and Christ needed to be at the center of his life. He felt like it took 20 pound sledge hammer to break down the wall of pride standing between him and Christ. That realization gave him the name of the band.
The band recently released their first CD, Divine Battery, whose song of the same name is currently climbing the Christian internet radio charts. 20 lb Sledge band member, K. Martin Wade, plays bass, is a Christian, and a full-spectrum conservative. Eli Chatman, the front-man, is an apolitical Christian who looks for candidates whose beliefs align with the Ten Commandments. The lead guitarist, Shawn Taylor, is a pro-life, 2nd Amendment supporting, and traditional marriage kind of Catholic. Alfonzo Rachel is the drummer, songwriter, and the main subject of this article.
The sound of 20 lb. Sledge attracts people from many age groups. According to Alfonzo:
“Those in their 60’s are the ones who used to dig bands like Black Sabbath and liked their rock on the beefy side. Since they’ve found the Lord they still want the rock, but with a message that reflects their faith. The younger side digs that it’s heavy with lots of energy, but it’s got a melody that lures them in as if they locked a sniff of cake in the oven, with a groove that is raw, heavy, and steady which is fun for them to rock out to!”
As a musician myself, I was obviously curious about his songwriting technique. Alfonzo says:
“Since I’m a drummer I like to write songs that are more rhythm focused. I’ve never really had a process. I just let rhythm juggle around in my head until something sticks. I’m always bumpin’ jams in my heads. Music itself is inspirational to me, so it’s not like there has to be an event or some stimulus, or an emotional trigger for me. The music to me is already much like many emotions in itself.”
In order to get beyond the stage of being a weekend garage band, musicians need to be inspired by something that takes them to that next level. With Alfonzo, his songwriting process always begins with a prayer, and long before he realized it, the Lord was his inspiration. He then picks up a guitar to get things going. He tries to write a song like the cadence:
“In drum-line, the cadence would be a balance between intricate rhythms yet easy to stay in step to. When people listen to the music, I want them to hear a really organic, driving, unified guitar, drum and bass sound that’s very unique and interesting rhythmically. Sophisticated, yet very simple to lock on to.”
While the band is where he has been concentrating his efforts as of late, it’s not where his fame has come from. I’m sure the political editor will forgive me for trespassing on his territory, but Alfonzo is better known for his conservative political commentaries posted on PJTV ZONATION than he is for his music. I asked Alfonzo how he came to embrace conservatism, and I learned that very little in his background fits the image of a stereotypical right-wing Christian.
Although born on the Grisom Air Force Base in Indiana, Alfonzo has been a southern Californian since “diaper-hood.” His parents divorced when he was four years old. Even though his mother remarried after Alfonzo left home, he was mostly raised in a single-parent home:
“Can’t say I was raised conservative. But there was a guy who had a huge crush on my mom. He was a big, burly white guy, and he was a Republican. He was the first Republican I ever met. I was seven. He wasn’t racist, he wasn’t sexist, and his son was gay. He didn’t agree with it, but he didn’t reject him, so he wasn’t homophobic either. Thus my first impression of a Republican would be contrary to the prejudice I would…hear from libs. He encouraged my music interests, martial arts, and my time in the navy league/Sea Cadet Corp. He moved away, and I grew into default liberalism, but something in me told me liberalism ain’t right. I realized that liberals were, hypocritical, angry, selfish, and self-righteous. I would ask people why they were Democrats and they would answer by just accusing Republicans. I one day learned that the name of Satan means the accuser. It really made sense then, and this was before I was a Christian.”
His popular YouTube political rants were started after he had borrowed money from his step-dad to buy a video camera. At first he was just going to do a promo for a story he wrote based on Noah and the Flood, but things changed when he became irritated by the way liberals reacted to things they disagreed with.
“I was irritated by the slander against conservatives and the disrespect for Jesus, even though I wasn’t a Christian yet. I was just sick of the hostility of liberals who thrived off of race baiting, sexism, class warfare. I just saw the same hateful bullying attitude of the Democrat party that founded the KKK to assert their world view. I wanted to say something but didn’t know how to get the message out there. I wanted to do it with my band (prior to my current band, 20 lb Sledge), but they were liberal, and we constantly butted heads. I put my Noah story trailer on hold, started taking notes on what to say, and when I was done teaching martial arts at my studio for the night, I’d set up my camera and start talkin’. I edited the footage together in a jump-cut fashion to give the points a sense of punctuation and a faint rhythm. I loaded them up on myspace, and started to get a following in 2007. Someone suggested I load them up on Youtube.”
Eventually, Alfonzo got a call from Bill Whittle, who had heard of him from the late Andrew Breitbart, who himself was told about Alfonzo from Gary Sinise. Bill invited him to CPAC, where he met with Roger L. Simmon and Owen Brennan, who offered him a job with PJTV. He has since been consistently producing commentaries on a wide variety of subjects. So why is he so adamant about expressing his political and religious views in such a public way as he does in his YouTube rants?
“It ain’t about the politics for me. It’s about God’s gift of freedom. I just wanna play some rock and roll and produce cool stories! But freedom has to be protected. It’s a valuable gift, and things of value get stolen. Liberals use things like music and story telling to condition the culture to empower the government to institute what violates the Ten Commandments, as well as the Constitution. Since I like making music, and telling stories, I want to be among those who would use these influential tools to protect God’s blessings of freedom, and give the culture something else to be interested in besides what the left has been mind rottin’ the people with.”
The band’s website is www.20lbSLEDGE.com. They have a great video of the song, Divine Battery, and a link to buy the album. To hear Alfonzo’s political commentaries, go to http://alfonzorachel.com/ or http://www.pjtv.com/page/AlfonZo_Rachel%27s_ZoNation/162/. Give a listen and find out what a culture warrior sounds like!