How An Aussie School Teacher Became A World-Renowned Air Guitarist
Alex Roberts said he wasted 13 years of his life playing the 'real' guitar, before he found his true musical calling.
"When I was a young, impressionable 14-year-old I went to my friend Turner's house and Metallica came on, and I got out of my chair and started cranking out this solo," Roberts told 10 daily of the time he picked up his first air guitar.
"Before I knew it, there it was in my hand like a magic trick."
Despite playing around with the air guitar in his early teens, it wouldn't be until much later that he took to the stage in an air guitar competition in Chicago, and his whirlwind success took off.
"Look, I've found more success playing air guitar than an actual guitar," Roberts said, when asked whether the skill of playing a 'real' guitar was needed to reach the rock 'n' roll heights of air guitar.
"I played real guitar for 13 years maybe in front of 20 mates, and here I am playing an air guitar in front of thousands."
Roberts has so far hit the career high of becoming the world's No. 2 ranked air guitarist at last year's world championships in Finland, but said with his physically indestructible instrument there are still so many places he could go.
A Perth-based high school drama teacher by day, Roberts said he tried to keep his second talent under wraps from his students, but after his performances garnered worldwide attention, the ~gig~ jig was up.
"I was a bit like Clark Kent, I didn't want to reveal my true identity," he said.
But when he gained the unfortunate nickname of "Mr Nipples" among some of his students after a video surfaced of him performing a one-of-a-kind move on stage, he realised he couldn't hide his second career any longer but was careful not to show his "Achilles heel".
While it's difficult to settle on just one favourite performance, Roberts admits the world championships were truly "out of this world".
Each year performers banded together from at least eight different countries to perform for the global competition in front of sell-out crowds.
"We are all nutters, but full of heart," Roberts said.
"It was like thunder and lighting was raining down," Roberts said of the 2018 competition in Finland.
"It was just like the Nordic gods were looking down and firing lightning bolts and I was just giving back to the crowd with the same energy," he said.
"And that for me will never be air-clipsed".
Roberts also starred in The Jinja Assassin, a short film at Tropfest honoured as a finalist in January.
"To see yourself up there... the whole thing has just been really quite incredible," Roberts said, adding that he was floored to see Hollywood star Eric Bana at the event watching and laughing along to the film.
"It's all just been beyond my wildest imagination".
Alex Roberts joins the Studio 10 panel on Friday. Catch his full interview on 10 or catch up later via tenplay.com.au
Featured Image: Supplied/ Studio 10.