The documentary chronicles the rivalry between David “C-Diddy” Jung and Dan “Björn Türoque” Crane and their journey to the air guitar finals in Finland. Performing as Björn Türoque (pronounced Born too-ROCK), Crane is finally able to leave his boring job at a software company.
“It allowed me to start focusing on writing and being a musician full-time,” the New York resident confirms.
The first regional occurred at the Pussycat Lounge in New York in 2003. Friends and producing partners Kriston Rucker and Cedric Devitt arranged their own competition after Rucker read in a Wall Street Journal article that competitions in Oulu, Finland had been going on since the early '90s. Contestants represented countries from all over the world, except the United States.
The friends quickly remedied this omission by launching their own competition, hoping to send a winner to the championships in Finland. Word quickly spread via radio god Howard Stern.
“That was a crazy night because nobody really knew what was going on,” Crane says, referring to the first regional. “The whole thing was thrown together. I did what I could. I rocked out. Then I saw C-Diddy take the stand, and I knew that I was in the presence of greatness, because he is pretty incredible. But, I still wanted to beat him. It was the nature of the game.”
The contestants had one minute to impress the crowd. Soon, it was down to Türoque and C-Diddy ready to out air each other.
After coming in second to C-Diddy, Crane got his shine on “Last Call with Carson Daly.” He convinced the host to send him to the Los Angeles regionals.
Crane received Daly's blessings and went to the Roxy to meet the other contenders and regain his rightful title from his nemesis, C-Diddy. Crane remembers the intensity and frenzy at the L.A. competition.
“When you get to the Roxy, you realize, ‘whoa this is some heavy shit.' This is a real club on the Sunset Strip where real bands played. It was sold out. The crowd was crazy. It really was the big experience that you were playing live at a rock 'n' roll show to a really great crowd.”
It's hard to imagine grown folks standing in line to watch wannabe rockers play a nonexistent apparatus and cheer them on. Crane was amazed how much public attention the competition received, when it was never even heard of until a few years ago.
“The people involved have a real sense of how bizarre and ridiculous these competitions are, and yet it's something that people take seriously,” says Crane. “I think the movie will change the landscape of competitive air guitar and give it the respect it deserves.”
Other than free beer back stage and meeting fans and air groupies, there is no monetary reward. The ultimate prize is a handmade Finnish guitar called the Flying Finn.
All this sits fine with Crane, who received compensation that's more important: It freed him from his 40-hour week grind and gave him time to write for The New York Times and Blender magazine. Since retiring in 2005, Crane keeps busy emceeing competitions, maintaining his Web site ( www.bjornturoque.com ), promoting Aireoke, where air guitar meets karaoke and working on another book.
As for C-Diddy, Crane gets along with him. Well, sort of.
Air Guitar Nation releases in select theaters March 30.