Houses Of The Unholy: Alex Lee, Holy Grail

So, you’re a straight-up yo-yo ninja. How’d that happen?

“I got into it when the yo-yo guy showed up at my school and blew everybody’s mind with this insane yo-yo show. I messed around on and off for a few years and then in high school I went to the mall and snagged a glow-in-the-dark Duncan for $4. I still have it. When I started going on tour, I began taking a yo-yo with me, even though at the time I didn’t know what I was doing with it. Then I found this one yo-yo performer on YouTube who got something like two million views, and that totally blew me away! I started out watching a bunch of videos on YouTube and learning a few basic tricks and from there, it was pretty much on.”

How many yo-yos do you have?

“Currently, almost 100 and they vary in price. Some are cheap – the plastic ones might go from $10 to $45 at the high end. The metal yo-yos can range anywhere from $50 to $120 and even up from that. The most expensive one that I have is from a company in Japan called Yoyorecreation — it’s called the ‘Draupnir’ and they range from $200 to $240 for one.”

$200 for a yo-yo? Are they carved from human bone?

“Hah! That’d be cool, but no, these are just made out of a higher-grade 7075 aluminium body with stainless steel rims. I know this from my experience in machining. 6061 is a softer aluminium and 7075 is a highly resistant, dense grade of aluminium.”

What’s the hardest trick that you can pull off?

“Typically yo-yos go up and down, so if we’re looking at an X and Y axis, the yo-yo normally extends downward from your hand. But there’s a way to actually shoot the yo-yo out horizontally — it’s a trick called ‘The UFO’, where you get the yo-yo spinning on its side, horizontally. So I have to constantly keep the yo-yo spinning or otherwise, without the momentum, gravity’s going to take over. So it’s super hard.”

What sort of tunes do you want to rock when you’re spinning a yo-yo?

“I like listening to ambient stuff. There’s a band called Radiance, the side-project of Sami Raatikainen, the guitarist for Necrophagist. It’s a lot of ambient, spacey moods and heavy riffs. The album is just the one track and it’s got lots of dynamics, so that always works.”

If we pick up an official Holy Grail yo-yo, will this improve our chances with the opposite sex?

“Yes, it’s actually a great ice-breaker! Boy or girl, there’s always some sort of yo-yo story in people’s lives. Either their dad or their grandpa had one, or they picked one up in school. It’s definitely a way to start the conversation.”

Holy Grail play at Hammerfest VIII in March 2016

Joe Daly

Hailing from San Diego, California, Joe Daly is an award-winning music journalist with over thirty years experience. Since 2010, Joe has been a regular contributor for Metal Hammer, penning cover features, news stories, album reviews and other content. Joe also writes for Classic Rock, Bass Player, Men’s Health and Outburn magazines. He has served as Music Editor for several online outlets and he has been a contributor for SPIN, the BBC and a frequent guest on several podcasts. When he’s not serenading his neighbours with black metal, Joe enjoys playing hockey, beating on his bass and fawning over his dogs.