we are asking a few UBER air guitar champions their thoughts on the subject.
This episode brings you Jason Farnan aka "Lieutenant Facemelter",
a Senior User Experience Designer by day (we don't know what that is but it certainly sounds dangerous) AND a militaristic melter of faces by night
(if given a beer and a couple of quarters for the jukebox).
Competing since 2009 Lt. Facemelter has won 3 Regional Championships,
San Diego 2010 and 2012 as well as Seattle in 2011, last year winning the USAG National Championship AND a trip to Finland ultimately placing 5th in the world. He comes back to the National Championship this year in a place and time
not yet disclosed, (though it most assuredly will be ANY day now,
keep checking back for dates), to once again battle for air supremecy,
the revolving trophy belt AND the honor to represent
The USA on the world stage in Oulu this coming August.
What got you into competitive air guitar and what has kept you competing year after year?
I watched Air Guitar Nation back in 2008 and immediately knew this was something I had to see live. When it came to San Diego in 2009, I went online to buy tickets and then noticed that for $2 more, I could sign up and compete. I thought, "What's the worst that can happen?" And now 6 years later I'm doing this interview. The welcoming and amazing community of air guitarists is what keeps me coming back every year. I love all you idiots.
Please describe the evolution of "Lt. Facemelter" as well as your alter ego "The Fretophile".
Facemelter originally started off as a true alter-ego to my everyday personality. I wanted him to be a bad guy. A hard nosed, ultimate bad ass. In my first year, I had this whole tough guy persona where I let arrogance take the lead. I had a cigar in my mouth that I then violently threw into the crowd. I scowled at the audience and gave them the finger. I went through my entire routine like I was better than everyone. Turns out, I wasn't better than anyone. In fact, I was terrible. The thing I realized that year was that I suck at being the bad guy and I look about as intimidating as an octopus on roller skates. So in 2010 I abandoned the bad guy and went with more of who I really was and as the years went on, I still kept a little bit of the ultimate bad assery but I relied more on my playfulness and all around goofy behavior. That and sound effects, lots of sound effects. As for The Fretophile, that dude creeps me the hell out and I avoid him at all costs. I don't think it's an act.
Has air guitar helped you develop creatively in other aspects of your life? If so, please explain.
Absolutely! In 2010, I was becoming so obsessed with air guitar and the community, that I wanted to do something to give back. Being a designer in the real world, I thought, "How cool would it be if we had our own trading cards?" I pitched the idea to the USAG brass and they were all for it. I had a lot of fun with that project and it helped keep my creative skills sharp in a field where I unfortunately don't get to think that far outside of the box anymore. It's not very often I get to design something with the text "Inches of Pubic Hair" or "Bun Tightness" in the main content area.
You won National Champion status as well as a custom electric guitar last year on the stage of The House Of Blues in Los Angeles, California. Next, you traveled to Oulu Finland to compete on the world stage in front of thousands of people. When you are asked why you would want to fly to a destination 125 miles from the Arctic Circle in August, what do you say?
I say that no matter how silly or stupid air guitar may be, I was at one point in my life, the best in the country at something and when you have the opportunity to travel halfway across the world to represent your country in a world competition of any kind, you do it and you make as many new and weird friends as you can along the way.
You not only compete but you also put on a qualifying competition in San Diego California. Is there one that you enjoy over the other? If so, please explain.
I love competition, but I have way more fun when I'm not on stage vying for a title. When you're competing, you eventually lock down into "serious mode". Headphones in, last minute routine preparations and ultimate focus. If you score well, you're constantly sizing up other air guitarists, comparing scores, trying to do math in your head to see where you stand. And if you eventually make the second round, you have to zone in on that round 2 song, doing your best to pinpoint its flow and recognize important beats and breaks, as well as kicking your improv into high gear, all while trying not to do what someone else may have already done. It's a lot to take in! When I host a qualifier or perform a halftime routine, there is zero stress. I still work hard to put on a good show, but if I miss a mark or don't nail every note, there's no consequences like there are in competition. It's just drink, shred and be happy. To this day, I have never had as much fun air guitarring as when I did it as Nodick Blunder in 2012.
There are tons of YouTube videos of various competitors including yourself showing competitions and performances. If comments from the public are allowed as they often are, there can be some really mean things posted. If you could get such a person that would make those kind of remarks to leave their parents basement, what would you say to convince them to attend a competition in person or potentially throw their hat in the ring and compete themselves?
I'll pull a quote from a comment I left on Nordic Thunder's championship routine from 2012, replying to a guy who so poetically commented:
"WHAT THE F*CK. WHY ARE THERE PEOPLE AT THIS EVENT. WHAT . THE. F*CK"
"People are at this event to be entertained. They are there to have fun in an environment that encourages people to think outside the realm of what is possible with music and to share in its excitement. They are also there to get drunk."
Bonus question: Word on the street is that you will publicly make love to a plastic cow on a bar for a free meal... What would you do if someone threw in a free 6-pack of beer and a vintage Night Rider pinball machine?
You walk some weird streets to get that kind of word... I'd totally do it again though. That free meal was delicious.
that makes fun of the 2011 National Champion
(later to become the 2012 World AIr Guitar Champion)
"Nordic Thunder", proving that in air guitar as it should be in life,
one should never take themselves too seriously.