Canadian band, Men Without Hats, (MWH) burst across the world music stage in the 1982 with the Safety Dance, and followed it up with Pop goes the world in 1987. Then the music world changed.
Ivan Doroschuk has seen many members of MWH over the years and now, they have made a comeback with a new line up and some great new tunes.
"We just got back from Peru a couple weeks ago, said Doroschuk, from his home in Victora. "We started in Vegas and then went to Costa Rica and wrapped it all up in Peru."
The new Men Without Hats was formed for South by Southwest last year and have been on the road ever since. Currently the band has Doroschuck, (the one constant over the past 30 plus years) James Love on guitar, Lou Dawson on keyboards, and Rachel Ashmore on keyboards.
"I play all the keyboards, sing, and write so basically MWH has always been a vehicle for me. Getting back on the road was great, like riding a bicycle. It was great getting out there and touching base with fans who had waited over 20 years to see us. It was very rewarding."
Men Without Hats kick off their North American tour in Vancouver, heads across Canada, then down to Florida and after that, they are bound for Europe.
"Our followers are all over the world," said Doroschuk. "Pop Goes the World has been picked up as a soccer chant so everyone knows it. I keep getting these videos of a South American or European soccer team, where the crowd is singing Pop Goes the World. Even in Toronto - they use our melody and they put their own lyrics in it. When we played in Peru… when we started Pop Goes the World, the crowd erupted with their own soccer chant.
The new album didn't start off as a concept, it just kind of happened for Doroschuk. "The band was created to go out there and play a greatest hits package. I was in the back of the tour bus and started messing around with my iPad in Garage Band, and started putting down some ideas. We were on tour with Human League and at the end of the tour, I had a dozen songs on my iPad so we decided to do a record."
MWH hit the studio from November to February at Mushroom Records with Dave Ogilvie. Then they took the first part of the summer off and put a new show together.
"We purposely went back to the original sounds we had, before computers, and sequencers. We did it with all the old analog gear that we used back then. The songs are in the same spirit. We went in to make a record that sounded like it was recorded a week after we did Safety Dance and I think we did what we set out to do," he said.
The album, Love in the Age of War, had Head Above Water as the first single. "
I wanted to make a record where I had something to say. I have noticed a general malaise right around the planet. It's like everybody is finally waking up to something. There are all these social movements going on. People are getting fed up and realizing life isn't about mortgages and oil. There's a lot more to life than that and that's what I wanted to express."
As for being The Safety Dance Guy, Doroschuk said his son, now 9, kind of knew who he was but did really understand until he watched Crazy Frog do a video version of the Safety Dance.
"It's really like we've never been away. Pop Goes the World and the Safety Dance are part of a world-wide culture." And he's right, those two songs have had constant exposure from the Disney Channel to Glee over the past two decades.
One often wonders what it must be like to play a song that is so well known, over and over again and if it ever loses its appeal. Doroschuck said it doesn't.
"When I first went out there, after 20+ years of fans waiting to see me perform, it was great. Because of the impact those songs have had on people, I almost consider going out and playing as a duty. Seeing the smiles on their faces is great. Back then I never would have thought it would be fun playing the back catalogue. Before there was a lot of pressure to play the hits. No one wanted to hear the latest songs. Record companies were telling us what to do There is enough distance now, there's no pressure from record companies and no agenda. Now I play it with pleasure."
The group kicks off their Canadian tour at the Venue in Vancouver on October 23.
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