Incredible footage shows a literal air guitar hero – who travelled halfway around the world to compete in the International Air Guitar Championships.
By day, Alex Roberts is a mild-mannered school teacher but when night falls and the stage lights come on, he turns into his alter-ego, the Jinja Assassin.
He’s already been crowned as Australia’s best air guitar player and has now been the star of a short film as he undertakes his journey to become the best in the world.
Recently he travelled to the annual competition in Oulu, Finland, where he came second – and now he’s training back in Perth, waiting for the pandemic to subside so he can have another crack at the title.
Alex said: “I’m the Jinja Assassin, I’m number two in the world at air guitar. By day I’m a teacher, by night – air guitar shredder.
“Do the air guitar moves ever come out in the classroom? Depends if there’s music. If there’s music playing and it’s a rocking tune, once again like Houdini’s greatest trick, there’s the air guitar in my hands and I’m shredding it.
“I love my life, I love working with kids, I just love teaching – it’s an amazing profession and I wouldn’t change it for the world.
“My air guitar career started at my mate Turner’s house at 15-years-old, a Metallica track started, Kirk Hammett solo, suddenly you’re out of your chair and there it is, smack bang in your hands.
“Suddenly you’re playing like the greatest guitarist on the earth and all of my mates were like, ‘oh my god, it’s like you’re actually playing it’ and I was like, ‘yeah, I am playing it’ and that’s when I realised that’s what I was doing – I was playing air guitar.
“Even before air guitar was a thing I was part of it. It wasn’t that I chose air guitar, air guitar chose me.
“Being number two in the world is a blessing but it’s also a curse, because when you’re number two you’re still one step from greatness and I want to be standing on top of that mountain of air guitar and show the world who the Jinja Assassin is.”
Alex said that on stage he likes to play his imaginary PHC 500, “otherwise known as the Prince Harry’s Charm”, and he even transports it to gigs in a non-imaginary case.
While Alex admits that playing air guitar can be silly, he thinks that silliness is important in life and has helped him deal with troubles when they have arisen.
He continued: “In my early twenties, I partied a lot and one night I got into an altercation with someone who turned out to be quite notorious and I feared for my life.
“I ended up escaping that situation but lost all my confidence.
“I started not going out anywhere and started lying to my friends all the time making up excuses for not going out. I went out to see a psychologist and they said I had post-traumatic stress disorder, and it still affects me to this day.
“The first time I decided to do air guitar I was absolutely terrified because my head was just saying don’t go up on that stage because if you do people will see you and they’re going to know you and they’ll get you, you can’t do it.
“But I had to just say, ‘nah’, and I charged onto that stage and did it.
“The action of my jumping on stage just led my emotion of embracing that moment and going for it 110 per cent.
“There was no thought in my head, there was no doubt, there was no hesitation, there was only feeling the music and performing. When I finished that first performance it was the greatest feeling I’d had in such a long time.”
Alex was crowned Australia’s top air guitar shredder back in 2019 which landed him a ticket to the world championships on Oulu, Finland – alongside a corporate sponsor, Signet.
A spokesperson from the company said: “We were looking to sponsor the Australian cricket team at first, then we realised we didn’t have the budget so we started looking for some really weird Aussie events.
“It is just a competition with a whole lot of air, we’re kind of sponsoring nothing.”
In August 2019, Alex flew to Finland to take part in the 23rd international Air Guitar Championship, which attracts the best of the best.
He came second, losing out to Japan’s Nanami Nagura, aka Seven Seas, and has sworn to return to take the crown.
He added: “It’s home to the freshest air you’ve ever smelt.
“The first round, it was a rush out there – I felt good, I felt comfortable. I made a couple of mistakes but the whole feeling was awesome.
“In the improv round, I crushed it. I absolutely crushed it. I found the changes, I hit the solo. My improv round was stronger than my first round.
“I finished second, Seven Seas won from Japan. I’d never seen it done like that before – she found the guitar in the corner of the room then manifests into this demon, it was wow – just incredible.
“Air guitar is just about community, you can talk about winning, but at the end of the day, it’s just a group of people coming together and doing something ridiculous.
“You don’t get this connection very often, if we had more of this stuff the world would be a better place.
“I’m coming back, I’m not throwing down the sword. Jinja Assassin 2.0.”
Alex was recently the subject of a short film, made by Will Faulkner and Nathan Keene from Fireteller Film and Media, which was shown at the Feel Good Film Festival.