Story by: Bob Klanac

Mythology mixed with metal and mayhem - Jon Mikl Thor wants to pump you up!

For some reason most of us guys wanted to be Superman, wear red and blue nylons and fight crime.
But aside from donning a limp-assed costume on October 31, most of us never really did much about it.

Young Jon Mikl Thor wanted to be Superman. Popeye too. He hadn’t been told that all he could do was the costume thing. In fact, he hadn’t even been told about the Halloween only stipulation. He used to go to school every
day with the Superman costume under his shirt and pants and emerge as the capped crusader at every recess.

“I even jumped out the first storey of the school dressed as Superman and got a concussion,
” he laughs over the phone from his Vancouver home. “I took it pretty far.”

But not far enough for young Thor. The 8-year-old kid asked his older brother how he could be like his heroes.
His brother showed him the weight room and Thor got to work.

“I was sort of a shy guy. I think the superhero thing was my fantasy to get me out of being shy,” Thor says quietly.
“I started competing with bodybuilding when I was 14. I would listen to music while I was bodybuilding like Led Zeppelin, the Doors, and the Beatles. I would get worked up into a frenzy.”

Then something clicked. Bodybuilding + rock music. There was something in that combo that connected with the teenage muscleman. So young Thor ditched the accordion Ma and Pa gave him and found a bass guitar.
And like any young bodybuilding musician, Thor started playing around.

Soon he discovered that there really wasn’t much call for a bass playing strongman. Thor got his own show together and hit the road as the muscle rock Norse God. The cover shot of his first album, Keep The Dogs Away
featured the blond-haired Thor reigning in a pack of ravenous canines. It was 1970 and next to a Guess Who
or Joni Mitchell album, Thor stood out.

Not surprisingly, audiences started to catch on. His infatuation with B-movies, and B-movie culture seeped through in his live performances which featured the bending of steel bars, smashing bricks over his chest and other feats of strength. “Occasionally I’d blow up a hot water bottle,” the former Mr. Canada and Mr. USA says matter-of-factly. “Sometimes they exploded and sprayed the entire dance floor.”

But not everyone got it. There were exceptions. “One time in Quebec the whole town was there to watch me and they weren’t really impressed,” he says with a restrained chuckle. “They didn’t really respond no matter what I was doing, ripping license plates in two; I was trying to give them everything I could plus the kitchen sink. So they sent the
strongest guy in town up onstage. He was this huge guy. I was going to bend the steel bar and he just grabbed
the bar out of my hands and put it in his teeth. He didn’t know that you had to wrap the cloth around it. He couldn’t
bend it but he bit into it and he cracked all his front teeth. He was screaming and that’s when I finally got a reaction from the crowd. They were appalled. They couldn’t believe their hero broke his teeth and couldn’t bend the steel.”

Since then decidedly more people have ‘gotten it.’ His fans now range from some of his original 70s and 80s crowd to their children. “I just did a show for the fifteen and under crowd,” Thor says with just a trace of disbelief. “They
knew all the songs and knew about the Keep The Dogs Away album. It’s a whole new generation. We’re not a nostalgia band really. We’re more like a new band. With bands like The Darkness bringing back that show-rock
thing and, of course, with movies about mythology that are popular, like Lord of the Rings, we’re right there.”

Some lame-ass rock band sang that rock and roll is a vicious game but for Thor it can be downright dangerous. Longevity must play a part in all this for the aging Norse God of rock.

“I’m fifty but I’m still a young buck. I gotta be in really good shape to bend steel and have bricks smashed on my
chest, never mind singing. I’ve had many things happen to me,” he says. “I’ve been electrocuted onstage.
One time when I was singing the flashpot went off and I stepped into it while hanging onto the mike.
I saw blue lights and all that sort of stuff. Another time in Guelph the guy put too much powder in the
flashpot and the whole hotel had to be evacuated.”

Regardless of his age and the dangers of overzealous amateur pyrotechnicians, this aging muscleman
maintains the touring schedule of a rock god half his age. He regularly sells out shows in locales
ranging from San Francisco to Boston.

“Sometimes we get 100 people, sometimes 500. It’s a young crowd. We were involved in the Fubar movie too
and I’ve been on television numerous times with Nardwuar the human serviette. We’ve had specials where I
met Gene Simmons and a lot of kids have seen that. I think they’re just into what we’re doing, our concept.
They want to see a show, they have a good feeling about rock and maybe there’s a retro thing too.
What was it like to see a heavy rock band in the Eighties?”

Being Thor may be a full-time job but it’s not Thor’s only job. “I’m also involved in a lot of other business endeavors.
We have the Vancouver Millionaires sportswear,” he says proudly. “The Vancouver Millionaires were Vancouver’s
only Stanley Cup Champions. They weren’t always in the NHL but back in the old days, Vancouver beat the Ottawa
Senators in 1915. I honour them right now with a line of hockey jerseys and all that sort of stuff.
That’s just one of the things I do.

“Those sorts of things I can do for a long time, producing movies, even producing other bands. I’m not always
going to go on the stage,” he admits quietly. Suddenly he brightens and adds,
“But hey, look at Sinatra, he was on stage right into his 70s.”

A 75-year-old man in a loincloth? Hey, if a 50-year-old man can still bend bars and break bricks over his chest,
don’t rule anything out just yet. Although no one would confuse Thor with Old Blue Eyes, he continues to pump
out his own brand of Canadian Viking metal rock. In fact, he’s just released a new album in collaboration with legendary comic book artist Mike Hoffman. Entitled Beastwoman From The Center Of The Earth
(Scratch Records), the CD has already spawned a comic book, while a video and movie are in the works.

Thor, wsg Goat Horn, invades Call The Office (216 York St.) on Tuesday, March 9. Cover: $5. Call 432-BAND for info.