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Everybody Needs A Hero - An Interview With Jon Mikl Thor

    Ian Jane

  • Everybody Needs A Hero - An Interview With Jon Mikl Thor

    Jon Mikl Thor, real life heavy metal superhero from the Great White North, is a busy man. When he's not keeping dogs away and accepting challenges, he's making movies, writing books, putting together videos,recording albums, and keeping muscle rock alive with his legendary live shows.If that weren't enough, he's just completed his latest and greatest project, Thor:The Rock Opera. Recently Jon, the star of Rock N' Roll Nightmare, Zombie Nightmare and Recruits, took a quick break from superheroics to talk to a lifelong fan about his past, his present and his future.

    So without further ado, BEHOLD THE COMING OF THOR!

    Rock! Shock! Pop! - So you got your start as a bodybuilder before you went into music and acting and won numerous titles including Mr. USA and Mr. Canada. How did you get into bodybuilding and what was the scene like when you started compared to how it is today?

    Jon Mikl Thor - I was both into being creative and physical fitness at a very young age. I would record, shoot movies and train with weights at seven years old. I remember working out in my early teens while listening to Led Zepplin to work myself into a frenzy.

    When I got into serious competitive bodybuilding as a teenager, it was an exciting scene. California was where all the champions were training. So I loaded up my bags and would head to Santa Monica, California, land of bronzed body building champs and movie stars. I would train at Gold's Gym in Venice Beach in California a month before the contest and hang out with Arnold, Frank Zane, Dave Draper.

    In one contest in New York, I competed against Lou Ferrigno in Teenage Mr. America. The next year we competed against each other in Geneva, Switzerland for Mr. Universe.

    R!S!P! - From there, you made the segue into music and made what is now a legendary appearance on the Merv Griffin show where you covered 'Action.' This was an interesting direction but one that didn't last long - any reason you didn't stick out the show tunes guy/stripper dude motif a little longer?

    JMT - I actually had already been doing the Glitter Rock shtick years before, starting with MIKL Body Rock and then the THOR and the Imps show. The times were a changing and it was time to don the leathers and studs as we were coming up into the punk/metal years.

    R!S!P! - What was it like appearing on that show? When you watch the clip the looks on the faces of Merv's band members are priceless, and the reaction from the audience amusing as well. Would you say this appearance had a big impact on your career?

    JMT - It was my Ed Sullivan (referring to the Beatles appearing on Live US national television for the first time). My life changed forever. Suddenly there were movie offers and record deals thrown at my feet. I was ready to go.

    R!S!P! - A few years later you'd carve out your niche with the seventies body rock stuff - what made you decide to create such a theatrical stage show and where did you get the ideas to blow up hot water bottles and bend steel bars on stage?

    JMT - The steel bar and hot water bottle strength feats were honed over years of touring before the Merv Griffin show. The secret of the steel was shown to me by Worlds Strongest Man Doug Hepburn. He could bend dimes and railroad spikes with his bare hands. Chuck Sipes, Mr. Universe, showed me how to blow up and explode a life time guaranteed hot water bottle till it exploded.

    If Alice Cooper could hang himself onstage as the horror queen and Gene Simmons could breathe fire as the Demon than I would perform incredible feats of strength as the rock n roll Gladiator.

    R!S!P! - Looking back on the early Thor stuff, especially the Keep The Dogs Away material, it seems to have been at the forefront of a movement and influenced a lot of bands, Manowar in particular. Any thoughts on this? Have you ever heard from the guys in Manowar?

    JMT - Yes, I appreciate Manowar and admire their work. They are fellow warriors. I have met both Ross The Boss and Joey in New York. There is a picture of us together in my 2003 THOR release of the album "MUTANT".

    However I was the inventor of Muscle Rock, The purveyor of the Sword and Sorcery Gladiator Battle Hymn image. I started that way back in 1973. A full ten years before Manowar.

    R!S!P! - Keep The Dogs Away recently got reissued in a deluxe package with some liner notes that allude to the fact that you're writing a biography. Any details on this? When can we expect it?

    JMT - I am currently writing a tell all book about the insanity and madness of my enigmatic career. It should be published in 2012.

    R!S!P! - You also moved to New York City at one point in your career - why the change in locations? Having moved from Canada to New York myself I know there are good reasons, I'm curious what yours were and what made you decide to head back to the Great White North a few years later?

    JMT - New York and LA were where it was all happening. It was a great career move for me. I got to meet and see tremendous bands. It was because of my presence and over the top performances in New York that caught the attention of record labels and major management in Europe.

    I came back to the West Coast which includes LA, Seattle because these are the areas that I want to reside in. With the internet, the world has become a smaller place. Technology has changed immensely since the 70's and 80's so in 2011 you can pretty much live in Nome, Alaska and have a handle on your career in the digital universe.

    R!S!P! - You've recorded with some interesting people over the years, from independent guys like The Coalition Of Shane to internationally known acts like D.O.A. - what was it like working with Joey Shithead and the D.O.A. guys on that collaboration album?

    JMT - It was great fun. We were promoting my tribute to the Vancouver Millionaires, Vancouver's only Stanley Cup champs who won way back in 1915. We put together a stellar campaign called "Are U Ready,” meaning are you ready to win the cup again. I since sold my ownership of the iconic"V" symbol and trademark of the Vancouver Millionaires name to the Canucks and the NHL. Maybe the spirit of the Ghosts of these past Heroes will help propel the Canucks to the Cup.

    R!S!P! - When I interviewed Joe he talked about how D.O.A. was your backing band when you played at a kickboxing event - this had to have been an interesting experience- what was it like and how did that come about?

    JMT - I always felt that I wanted to have an environment where it was like a Gladiator Battle at the Roman Coliseum. Punk versus Metal. So we had a really great show at the Pacific Coliseum where we combined DOA and THOR together in the ring. Frank Soda and Joe Shithead would have guitar riff battles. A monster came in the ring and we would have to fight it. It was Sports and Music mayhem combined with Warriors, Vixens and Cave beasts and the crowd of 20,000 loved it.

    R!S!P! - A Portland based band called The Punk Group recently paid tribute to you and your stage show with the song Here Comes Thor- how did this come about, I know you're pretty friendly with those guys, in fact I saw them open for you once when I lived out that way.

    JMT - I love those guys. They are on my digital label Vulcan Sky Records. They were going to open for us in Portland and they came up with this excellent intro song. They have since moved to San Francisco. Hail to the Punk Group.

    R!S!P! - The last time I saw you play live you dressed me up as a mutant and wrapped a steel bar around my neck. Is it common for you to bring people out of the crowd to destroy on stage? Have your shows always been as interactive as they are in recent years?

    JMT - Thanks for coming up and taking the punishment. It was an honor to have up on stage. A THOR concert is all about having the crowd sing along and interacting with the audience. It is meant to be a unique and fun experience. Escapism, participation. It's like watching a porno and you would like join in and bring your dick into the movie.

    R!S!P! - Now that's a challenge to accept for sure! Let's talk about your acting career for a little while. Your first role was in Recruits, which was basically a Police Academy inspired comedy - how did this come about and what was it like working on this picture?

    JMT - Roger Corman saw me perform in New York and asked me to be in the movie. it was great working with Lolita Davidovich. It was like Police Academy except with more T & A. It won a silver award in England for the most video sales in 1986.

    R!S!P! - You stepped up your game with Zombie Nightmare next, a film that's gone on to be a bit of a cult classic in its own right. What was it like working on this picture and how were your co-stars, Adam West and Tia Carrere to work with?

    JMT - It was the first film that I worked on with my very good friend Jon Fasano. I enjoyed meeting Tia and Adam. Meeting Adam West was like Thor meeting Batman. If I could meet Tia again I would start singing "Thor's World, Thor's world, Party Time! Excellent.”

    R!S!P! - That's what I would do too! Mystery Science Theater 3000 gave the film a skewering back when they were on the air - how did you feel about this? I figure since you were interviewed on the DVD you must have a pretty good sense of humor about some of these old movies.

    JMT - I have a good time with all this. Should I be so serious that I walk into a bank with a hammer and say, "I'm THOR, where's my money"? Hey it's tongue in cheek. I loved what MST3K did.

    R!S!P! - You followed that up with the greatest Thor movie of all time, Rock N Roll Nightmare, which you also wrote. What was your inspiration for this one? Do you still accept challenges? Why is the van ride in the opening scene so long?

    JMT - The inspiration was everything from Norse mythology to Superman. The movie was originally called"The Archangel". The idea was similar to that of Hercules where Zeus sends him to Earth, or THOR where Odin casts him to Earth to do a good deed, or with Superman, with Jore l and Lara sending their only begotten son to earth. Triton is sent to Earth for a purpose with a Rock n Roll edge. We Accept The Challenge. I really enjoyed working again with John Fasano who is a genius.

    R!S!P! - Synapse gave the film a proper special edition DVD release a few years ago that you helped out on. What was it like revisiting the film after all those years and do you get a lot of weird movie nerds like me bothering you about it after all these years?

    JMT - First of all, thank you so much for the beautiful notes you wrote that will be etched in metal for me for all eternity. I'm pleasantly surprised that the movie has had such longevity with generation after generation.

    R!S!P! - The pleasure was all mine! How did you wind up in Murder At The Presidio with Lou Diamond Phillips? You shot a music video around that movie too, for the track Glimmer. How did this come about?

    JMT - I decided after a ten year absence to get back into movies. I started producing "No More Heroes,” "I'll be here Till I Leave,” I wrote the title track and video for "FUBAR" and then got involved with John Fasano again where he invited me to write the theme for the movie and then shoot the music video.John directed both the movie and video.

    R!S!P! - There were at one point murmurs about an An-Thor-ology 2 DVD follow up to your first amazing DVD compilation disc - is this still in the pipeline? I know for a fact there's a lot of great Thor footage out there just waiting to bring happiness into peoples' lives.

    JMT - We just screened "THOR The Rock Opera" directed by John Cody Fasano, John's son. It got a standing ovation at Shock Stock in London. There is a documentary in the works to be released next year and an An-Thor-ology Part Two: Ride from Hell to be released as well next year.

    I feel what we came up with is very unique and entertaining film. We shot all the new scenes in Vancouver, Victoria, California and Florida.

    R!S!P! - You've also recently announced that you've completed a rock opera with help from Leslie Easterbrook - tell us what's going on here. That sounds like it has the potential to be the greatest idea ever. When are you unleashing this on a Thor hungry public?

    JMT - I was always a big fan of the Rock Opera genre. Films such as Quadrophenia, Rocky Horror Picture Show, The Song Remains The Same. I wanted to do a movie musical that would show Thor as a young warrior who is sent to Earth and matures into a man (or Rock God) and saves the universe. I produced it with John Fasano and it was directed by his son John Cody Fasano. I also wanted acting sequences which would meld into live footage and concept video scenes. There are great actors in the film- Dan Roebuck, Linda Easterbrook and Marc Macaulay. The movie is something of a Wagner meets Alice Cooper. Originally we had planned to have an actor play myself as the young warrior. But then we found old 3/4 inch tape from the 70's,80's and 90's. Some of them were found in trunks in basements. Lost footage of great performances with past musicians, some still alive and some who have passed away. I thought, yes, instead of CGI used in TRON with Jeff Bridges or using another actor I would play myself as a young man who matured through the movie by showing cuts from the last footage that was discovered. This way I could pay tribute to the musicians I have played music with over the years as well.

    We unleashed it in London, ON this past weekend and are taking it to Helsinki Finland at DOM (The Dome)June 1st and the MUSKELROCK Festival 2011 June 2-4. There will be a showing of THOR The Rock Opera movie and then the live THOR The Rock Opera concert.

    R!S!P! - You're still touring, you're still popping up in movies and you're still very active - what else have you got in the works? When are you going to play New York again?

    JMT - THOR is a machine that never stops. My energy only increases as time goes on. I hope to see you in the BIG APPLE very soon!

    R!S!P! - And we look forward to having you!

    Anyone who is anyone (which basically means everyone!) is encouraged to check out the official Thor Central website to keep up to date on all the rock warrior happenings! Special thanks to the lovely and talented Alison Jane for the banner design and of course, to Thor himself for taking the time out to talk to us.

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