By Natalya Jones
By County Grind
By Liz Tracy
By Chris Joseph
By Liz Tracy
By Matt Preira
By Jesse Scheckner
By Michael E. Miller
Canadian rock gladiator Jon Mikl Thor transforms his love of comic book superheroes, Norse mythology, metal, and glam-rock into mind-blowing theatrical stage shows in support of his new CD, Devastation of Musculation, which hits stores July 25. Fighting against Reptilian leader Invictus, wrapping his microphone stand around Evil Ogre's neck, and fending off the evil forces of Dark Avenger, he will become the Intercessor and Thor as he dons various mythological costumes, hammering out heavy-metal guitar riffs and anthemic rock choruses in a mock battle against fictional evil characters at the Paladium on Thursday. Imagine Hulk, Chippendales, the Norse god of thunder, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, and Superman all rolled into one man. That'll give you an idea of the appeal of Thor. He recently spoke with Outtakes about steroid use, comic books, and Superman.
Outtakes: How did seeing the television show The Man Whose Arm Exploded inspire your new CD,Devastation of Musculation?
Thor: Devastation of Musculation is a terminology I invented to describe our age of steroids and social pressures. We're pushed to achieve the impossible every day. You've got the whole Barry Bonds issue. People are doing plastic surgery to get more beautiful. They take steroids to get stronger and more powerful. With all this extremism going on, Devastation of Musculation means all this trying to overachieve to the point of killing yourself or destroying yourself. I would say Michael Jackson's nose is a devastation of musculation.
What social commentary do you want to make through your songs about people who try to achieve impossible goals?
I want to make a statement with this album. For example, Barry Bonds is being criticized, yet he's under pressure to perform, to achieve. We're always pushing athletes to become superhumans. You're pushed into taking enhancement drugs to achieve impossible feats. I saw an article recently about a real estate agent to the stars who just kept doing plastic surgery until she died of cancer. It's almost like you're being forced to take your body and your mind beyond what it's capable of.
How does your new CD differ from previous ones?
I went a step heavier on this one. I'm singing about things that I've never sung about before. I sing about politics and extremism. I dwell on things I've always been interested in, like Atlantis. There are the theories of Edgar Cayce that Atlantis at one time represented Mount Olympus or Asgard [the realm of the gods in Norse mythology]. Maybe superhumans and possibly aliens from another planet actually lived on Atlantis.
What's your interest in comic book characters and creating your own characters?
I'm very much into Superman. I haven't seen the new movie Superman Returns yet, but I hear it's astounding. I've been so busy lately. I have so many things in my mind. I write movie scripts and songs. I come up with these characters and stories. You've got to put it somewhere rather than retain it. Otherwise, my head will explode. Instead of a 50-inch arm exploding, my mind will explode if I don't let these creations out. Robert Hicks
Thor performs Thursday, July 13, at Paladium Nightclub, 5688 W. Sample Rd., Margate. Tickets cost $8. Call 954-977-7752, or visit www.paladiumnightclub.com.Bloodsuckahz
Tom Flowers rarely appears in public without veneer fangs, white face powder, black eyeliner, fake blood dribbling down his chin and contact lenses that make his brown eyes look like a wild cat's. Simply put, Tom Flowers is a vampire. He calls himself Havok and his fans "donors." Inspired by the 1980s camp-horror flick The Lost Boys and by fond memories of playing a vampire at a haunted house the 24-year-old Flowers decided two years ago to become a full-time bloodsucker. Which begs the question: Why?
"I got bit by a bitch, woke up the next day, and the sun hurt my eyes," he says. "And I didn't like the garlic in my spaghetti, so I knew what was up. The whole dark thing, the whole being-able-to-live-forever thing it's just fucking kick ass."
Borrowing from gangsta rap, death metal, and horror movies, Havok self-identifies with a hardcore rap genre called hell-hop (or "horror-core," "murder rap," or "goth rap").
As popular in St. Louis as anywhere else in the nation, hell-hop's themes center on nihilism and misanthropy. The music took off after the late-'90s success of Insane Clown Posse. But in recent years, ICP's popularity has waned, leaving millions of Juggalos pining for a new messiah.
Other St. Louis hell-hop acts like Wet Grimlinz, Hellsent, and Maddhouse Clique don't dress like clowns or vampires, nor do they preach satanic messages.
"The last thing we ever want is violence," says Wet Grimlinz MC PREACH whose name stands for "Peacefully Respect Everyone Against Continuous Hate." "But we talk about the violence that goes on in St. Louis."
Havok offers a different take: "Anything that you see me do or hear me say is a reflection of me. I will never say something 'out there' just to say it. If I talk about killing somebody, then I'm in the mood to kill somebody."
"Whoever came up with that is definitely talented, man," Mistah Creepy says of Saw, in which a villain named Jigsaw tries to manipulate people into cutting one another up.
"I hate people on the whole," Muerte says. "People are killing people, raping old women and shit that's retarded. To rap about it, that's a different thing. That's how you feel, what you'd like to do to this motherfucker, because he's out doing this stupid-ass shit." Ben WesthoffThat's Amore
If Dean Martinhad been alive to celebrate his 89th birthday last month, he might have dropped his Titleist on the green in the hazy morning, then gone to some '50s diner for steak and eggs. One thing this seemingly garrulous yet unreachable star would not have done, though, was listen to the 12 CDs compiling his Capitol Records boom of the 1950s and early '60s.
Plenty of the material on the albums can be dismissed, despite the charming Brylcreem ooze of Martin's modest, imperturbable baritone. For every triumph of irresistible silliness such as "That's Amore" (included not on Cha Cha De Amor or Dino: Italian Love Songs but on Dean Martin Sings) these reissues offer two shaggy-dog shrug-alongs. Blame the troughs in listenability on the Sinatra-pioneered trend of bundling songs by theme rather than by quality. Here, then, is a guide to the highlights of three solid Martin concept records... and three he should have made. Album: This Time I'm Swingin'!
Concept: Martin borrows Sinatra's hat and his best arranger, Nelson Riddle.
Highs: A woozy "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face," a devilish "Heaven Can Wait"
Low: Bonus track "Choo'n Gum"
Album: Swingin' Down Yonder
Concept: Reppin' the Dirty South
High: All involved must have been very high. Still, only Martin could have sold "When It's Sleepy Time Down South."
Lows: Actually, none.
Album: Hey, Brother, Pour the Wine
Concept: Capitol leftovers capitalizing the resurgent Martin, who pushed the Beatles out of the number-one spot on the singles chart in 1964 (with "Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime") for Sinatra's new label, Reprise.
High: The absurd title track
Low: The more absurd "Peddler Man (Ten I Loved)"
Album: Dean Martin's Block Party
High: Martin's musical version of the Foxx routine "Mother Frockers and Cork Suckers"
Low: The all-cast Beatles medley "The Slappy White Album"
Album: When I Go a-Fishin'
Concept: The riverboat gambler of Down Yonder hits the sandbar.
Highs "My Tackle, Your Box"
Low: "That's My Line"
Album: Dean Martin: Craps!
Concept: The man whose death Las Vegas observed by dimming its lights rolls straight sevens with a tribute to his favorite town.
High: "Fuzzy Dice"
Low: "Poker? I Hardly Know Her" Scott Wilson