Q: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you come to the world of competitive air guitar?
A: My name is Matt Burns. I’m 27 years old and live in Staten Island, New York. I am the current reigning four-time United States Air Guitar National Champion and this year a I was fortunate enough to take home the gold at the Air Guitar World Championships in Oulu, Finland. In 2008, I saw the documentary Air Guitar Nation, which chronicled the first year the United States became involved in the wacky competitions. I was immediately bitten by the bug and it became my absolute favorite form of performance art.
Q: You’re pretty deep into rehearsals for Chelsea Marcantel’s Airness. How is it going so far? Has anything about the process been surprising – or particularly exciting?
A: Rehearsals have been going great! I had no idea just how big the Humana Festival was and I feel so incredibly lucky to be surrounded by so many creative, talented people. Chelsea Marcantel, Meredith McDonough, and Jenny Koons have been an amazing creative team and I can’t wait for the show to open!
Q: Compare the world of Airness to the world of competitive air guitar. Do you feel that there are similarities between the two?
A: Chelsea absolutely nailed the world of competitive air guitar in Airness. The drama, the showmanship, the rip-away clothing, and most importantly the sense of community and friendship are all wonderfully showcased. Competitive air guitarists are great friends, fierce rivals, and legendary performance artists. Airness is able to stay loyal to that while also telling a great story.
Q: We hear the competitive air guitar season is about to start. How do you keep your skills sharp in the off-season?
A: The season is indeed upon us! In order to properly prepare, I need to resort back to some octane rock star training. A thousand pelvic thrusts a day, ten push-ups, two beers in between each push up, and maybe the occasional Zumba class to keep that stamina up on stage.
Q: What’s next for the 2016 World Air Guitar Champion?
A: Who knows! When I was a young buck coming up in the competitive circuit, I never thought I’d be able to claim the title of best in the world. Now that I have accomplished that, I hope to help judge a sold out Air Guitar contest at the Coliseum. Getting cast in another play wouldn’t be too shabby either!
Q: Do you have a personal favorite song to jam out to?
A: I have lot of favorite songs to rock out too. “Hotel California” by the Eagles, “She is Beautiful” by Andrew WK, and the Saved by the Bell Theme Song are all on the shortlist, but lately “Hanuman” by Rodrigo y Gabriela has been on repeat. Such a good jam!
see the world air guitar champion himself in chelsea marcantel’s rockin’ new play, airness. reserve your tickets today.
COMPILED BY KATE LEGGETT.