Yes, air guitar champion.
Last month, Casey won second place in the U.S. Air Guitar Championship’s regional qualifier in Santa Cruz, held at the Catalyst. He and two others –The Silver Hammer (Maxwell Priest-Radowski) and Jon Face (Jon Crisara) — got to go on to the semifinals in San Francisco, held on July 12. Unfortunately, none of our folks will be going on to the finals, scheduled for Aug. 9 in Kansas City. The full bracket is here.
Air Guitar has become somewhat of a thing in recent years and it’s far more complicated than “Bill and Ted” or Wayne and Garth might have you believe. Today’s air guitar champs take their “art” pretty seriously, as weird as that might sound. Sure, there are silly pseudonyms (like “The Jolly Green Shredding Machine,” “Airistotle,” and “C-Diddy,”) and sometimes costumes and, you know, imaginary instruments but still, it’s become a major thing with championships held internationally, sponsorships and even a 2006 feature-length documentary, Air Guitar Nation.
Here’s what our local champ had to say:
How does one prepare or practice for air guitar? Do you have any signature moves or techniques?
Did you get to pick your own music or did you have to improvise to whatever was played for you? What did you perform to?
A lot of people think Bill and Ted, Wayne and Garth when it comes to air guitar — what sets your everyday amateur air guitar player apart from the big leaguers?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me personally, all the stuff I “air” to I can really play on real guitar. I love all different kinds of music, play many instruments and have been playing guitar for about 20 years, so air guitar just comes natural. Growing up, my favorites were the shredders of metal and crazy technical guitarists like Slayer, Testament, Exodus, Judas Priest and Yngwie Malmsteen so from an early age I wanted to be as shredding as those guys. I think the best air guitarists are probably musicians in some way, shape or form.
How has your experience as a real musician (as opposed to playing air instruments) affected or enhanced your air guitar skills?
I think being a multi-instrumentalist and an entertainer are the only reasons I’ve been fortunate enough to make it this far in the “air” world. If I didn’t play an instrument, I definitely wouldn’t know what was going on in these songs and it would show in my performance. Plus there are judges who judge on technical ability, so if you don’t know what your doing they will call you out on that. I believe that really playing an instrument will enhance your air skills to the fullest.