There are musicians who diligently ply their craft with their instruments, and then there are those who themselves ARE the instrument; such is Jon Mikl Thor.
In 1973 Thor won the Mr. Canada bodybuilding title, and shortly thereafter began touring as the frontman for his eponymously named heavy metal band Thor. If his physique was considered intense, his performances were even more extreme. Incorporating masks, costumes, and assorted props, shows would often include feats of strength such as Thor having concrete blocks smashed on his chest with a sledgehammer, bending metal bars with his teeth, and exploding hot water bottles with just the power of his lungs (It’s not easy, go on, try it). While some critics failed to grasp the appeal of Thor, deriding his voice and even his musculature, Thor and the Imps released their debut EP “Muscle Rock” in 1977, followed by THOR’s first full length “Keep the Dogs Away” on RCA the same year.
As the ‘70s melted away, Thor’s gruff, imposing exterior seemed ideally-suited for the new, harder “metal” the kids were digging. Touring and releasing constantly in the early ‘80s his larger-than-life stage persona attracted the attention of Hollywood, landing him a supporting part in the 1986 “Police Academy” knock-off “Recruits” and then a larger role in the film “Zombie Nightmare.” Thor himself then wrote and starred in the 1987 B movie classic, “Rock n’ Roll Nightmare.” A mainstay on the USA Network’s “Up All Night” program the film developed Thor’s cult following while providing a showcase for his musical chops, infectious enthusiasm, and sense of humor – not to mention his ever-present bulging biceps.
After playing a bit of phone tag trying to arrange our interview and engaging in some friendly trashtalking about the Stanley Cup Finals, I awoke on the morning of June 16th, and turned my phone to find a message from Thor: “Congrats on your Stanley Cup victory. The Bruins played like true champions.”
Yes, Thor, rock god and all-around legend, also happens to be a Vancouver resident and GIGANTIC (in every sense of the word) Canucks fan. Until recently, he had actually owned the merchandise and image rights to the Vancouver Millionaires, a pre-National Hockey League team. A hockey fan to the core and a Vancouver guy, and he sent ME a congratulatory text! That was when I realized if you look behind the spiked shoulder pads, swinging Mjolnir, and still-imposing physique you will find a real gentleman who genuinely derives a great joy from entertaining people.
Join my brother Richard and I as we Skype unto Asgard and, for a few brief moments, find ourselves in the company of a true rock deity…THOR!
Want more Thor video? Click here to check out “Let’s Tune Our Weapons, A Mere Mortal’s Introduction to The Thunderous Ragna Rock of Thor”
Jason: How did the comics and pop culture you enjoyed as a young adult shape your early performances, your early “muscle rock”, and the development of the Thor character?
THOR: I would say, as a kid, I was an extremist…you know, beyond what any other kids were doing. For example, I was so enamored with Superman that, in school, I would draw the Superman insignia on the chalkboard, I’d draw it all over my books and I’d change into my Superman costume during the lunch hour. The teacher saw this and thought I was a little kooky, and I got notes sent home to my parents.
But, I was growing up in the ’50s and I was watching the Adventures of Superman…George Reeves. I was just crazed by the whole thing. My life back then was just dreaming about flying over the buildings or if I could have bullets bounce off of me. I’d even change into Superman and challenge kids to throw bricks at me. Well, they threw bricks at me and one time I woke up in the hospital with a concussion.
Richard: Your first feat of strength!
THOR: Wasn’t much of a feat!
Jason: I hope you made those kids pay afterwards.
THOR: Later on, I DID make them pay, but I did invite them to throw bricks on me…then later, I got quite a crowd together to watch me, dressed into my Superman costume and jumped off the first story of a building….and I got another concussion. My parents were very concerned about me. They thought I was backward or something. They didn’t know that I was just so enthusiastic about being “the hero”, some kind of super being. That’s really how I got into bodybuilding. I admired my brothers who were like heroes to me. One of my brothers would pitch the no-hitter and hit the grand slam. He was that kind of guy, and I’d watch him lifting weights in the basement. Of course, one way to get the girls to notice you is to weight train and pump up those muscles. I watched Steve Reeves who played Hercules and I wanted to be like that, even at an early age. I hit the weights around 7 years old, and I was entering bodybuilding contests at 11 or 12 years old. I had this baby face, and this my body was growing like crazy…clearly a unique-looking character!
Jason: With your business ventures, you keep pretty busy, yet you still manage to play out a lot. Do you still enjoy touring? How has the experience changed for you over the years?