we are asking a few UBER air guitar champions their thoughts on the subject.
This episode brings you Garth Donald aka "Chuck Mung".
Retired but not forgotten, Mr. Mung started his competitive career
in 2004 at The Air Guitar World Championships
in Oulu FInland placing 10th... IN THE WORLD.
Over the following years Chuck Mung's voice deepened,
he sprouted more facial hair, experimented with alcohol tolerance
AND donned a kilt, winning regional titles across the country:
Cleveland 2007, Seattle 2008, Portland Or 2009 & 2010.
He has toured the United States as part of an air band
(yes, I said air band) called "Airpocalypse" making it onto
"America's Got Talent" and into American's hearts, at least for a little while.
Last year he was one of the judges at the US Air Guitar Portland Qualifier and he currently brews beer AND is a part of a punk marching band in Seattle.
How did you become aware of air guitar and what was your first experience like?
As with most folks, my first venture into the Air Guitar world was in grade school, fooling around with buddies, pretending to play along with classic rock songs at home. We didn't know it was a "thing" at the time. It just...felt right. We decided to throw something together and perform at a local high school show. Stepping on stage for the first time was incredible. I was a rock star! This was the real deal! There are lights in my face! We played our hearts out and were promptly booed off stage by our entire school. The other bandmates gave up on the dream that night, but I knew it had potential to work. So...I saved everything and booked a plane ticket for Finland. The rest was history.
You have won four regional air guitar competitions in three different cities between 2007 and 2010. What is it about this art/sport that kept you competing AND can you give any advice that might help someone win ONE air guitar competition?
I got a regional win under my belt early on and was blown away by the level of competition at the national level. These folks knew how to perform, and everyone brought something to the table that I could learn from. I tried to soak up every piece of knowledge about commanding a crowd and rocking a stage, and these competitors had a lot to share! Costumes and make-up, bravado and sexiness, glitter and fire! Just when I thought I had a handle on stage presence, someone would bust out new moves and dominate the national title. I loved the comraderie, the showmanship, but above all the partying. My best advice for up and coming Air Guitarists is to study the stage masters. Study previous Air Champs (C-Diddy, Gunther Love, William Ocean, Tony Tapatio) as well as other famous arena performers (Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, Angus Young, etc.). Watch what they do, and learn from that.
"Airpocalypse", an actual air guitar band of which you are one of the founders, garnered quite a bit of attention making it past the initial audition of "America's Got Talent" to the Quarter Finals where America failed to vote you guys a win. What was that like?
Our time on television was incredible. We were very ragtag when Airpocalypse first formed. Thrift-store spandex, CD-players for audio, sloppy mixes. We originally approached Airpoc as a set of individual performances. AGT forced us to hone our art as an integrated, presentable act. We had to learn to bring something that a raw audience could enjoy. Many folks aren't aware that Air Guitar can be entertaining, and it was our job to win over new crowds. We had to bridge the divide of the technical performance and the stage antics in a completely new way. Plus, we had month-long parties on corporate dime, so that was fun. I can't stress that one enough. Nothing beats sipping fine whiskey and cheap beer at sunrise on a Hollywood penthouse balcony. With ladies.
Speaking of "Airpocalypse", we heard that there had been a documentary in the works a few years ago, is this something that we can still look forward to?
There is a documentary of Airpocalypse floating around the internet, so I've heard. There are terabytes of footage detailing shows, back stage antics, and day-to-day lives of the band members. That being said, the eventual documentary will most likely have a retrospective feel to it once it reaches the light of day, if you know what I mean.
Though you are "retired" from competing you still show up and participate at air guitar events, word on the street is that you have moved on to other creative projects. Will you share what they might be and whether or not you feel that participating in air guitar helped you to be even more versatile?
Yeah, I've retired from competitive air guitar but I'm not sitting on my ass. I am currently the performing "ring-master" for a punk-rock, renegade marching band called "Chaotic Noise Marching Corps." This is a crazy 20-piece brass band that is known to crash bars and weddings, perform at nude fun-runs, and tour about the country in out jet black school bus. Since I don't play any "real" instrument, I have found a position that uses everything I learned in air guitar to whip up the crowds. I have a large stick and a megaphone, and it is my job to get the crowd up and bumping. My comfort in front of the crowd comes directly from Air Guitar. I know what it is like to step in front of a jeering audience and completely blow them away. I still get that high from performing. Nothing can compare with a solid Air Guitar performance, but it is a nice gig in my free time.
If you had only one word to describe your life in the world of air guitar thus far, what would that word be?
One word? Air-some.