Men Without Hats return with new tour, albumWritten by Jeff McGinnis | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Ivan Doroschuk is clearly tickled by the latest events in his life, especially since they weren’t what he expected to happen. Doroschuk, the lead singer of the popular New Wave 80’s band Men Without Hats, had been dormant in the music scene for nearly a decade. Now, he finds himself touring regularly to crowds full of fans — both young and old.
“It’s awesome,” Doroschuk said in an interview with Toledo Free Press Star. “It was one of the reasons that we did it to begin with. We didn’t have any plans for a new record — it was basically just go out and play the catalog, go out and play a ‘best of’ show, a ‘Greatest Hats’ kind of show. And do just that, reconnect with the fans who have been waiting for, in some cases, 25 years to see us.
“It turned out to be, in a lot of cases, a family affair. The original fans would come, and they’d bring their kids. It was great. It’s become a real cross-generational thing that I’m really happy about. My son found out about me on the Disney Channel with the Crazy Frog video. It’s great.”
The group has changed drastically — Doroschuk himself is their primary connection to the glory days of “The Safety Dance” and “Pop Goes the World” — but the sound and feel remains very much intact. And now, via the new shows and an acclaimed new album, “Love in the Age of War,” Men Without Hats is beginning to reclaim their place in a music landscape which it has been part of for more than 30 years.
For Doroschuk, the resurgence comes after years away from music. “I’ve been a stay-at-home dad for about 10 years, the last 10 years. And so, my son was getting to an age where I didn’t have to take care of him, like, 24/7 anymore. So I was itching to get back. I was completely out of the loop for that time.”
Doroschuk said seeing the group’s music referenced in the world of pop culture helped spur his desire to return.
“Just seeing ‘Pop Goes the World’ and ‘Safety Dance’ popping up in Tide commercials and on ‘Glee,’ ‘The Simpsons,’ movies — ‘Hot Tub Time Machine’ — it just kept popping up all the time,” he said. “Plus, the fact that I’m hearing a lot of ’80s influences in the modern music today. Kids seem to be going back to synthesizers.
“I don’t wanna say it’s, like, back in style, but the kids seem to be referencing it more than they were during the ’90s, let’s say.”
With a new group of backup musicians, Doroschuk relaunched Men Without Hats in late 2010. The group performed the band’s standards at several music festivals, but it was a show at the SXSW in Austin, Texas, that began to convince Doroschuk that big things could come from this new version of Men Without Hats.
“That’s where I saw that I was connecting with 20-somethings. It was all 20-somethings, and not only were they getting off on it, a lot of them knew the words, they knew the songs. A lot of kids came up to me after and were saying ‘Man, I love the sounds.’ They were talking about the sound being relevant, and also about the themes being relevant.
“That really showed me that it didn’t have to be a nostalgia trip. It kinda made it interesting for me,” Doroschuk said. “I was kind of prepared to go out there and play my old catalog — I’d never done that before, so it was something I was looking forward to. And it was awesome playing the old stuff. But it kinda made me realize that it wasn’t all just nostalgia. It was also about being relevant to what’s going on today, too.”
While on the “Dance If You Want Tour,” Doroschuk started writing the songs that would eventually become “Love in the Age of War.”
“Being reimmersed in the whole band structure and the whole sort of thing,” Doroschuk said. “The songs just started coming out again. And I was just sitting in the back of the bus during the tour, and I just started putting them down in my iPad. At the end of the tour, I had a dozen songs. And so my manager just said, ‘We should do a record with it.’
“Even then, we just started off wanting to do an EP; just do four songs. But the songs just kept coming, kept writing and writing. And then, we decided to go back after Christmas and do another session and make a full album. So it was good in the way that it kinda grew organically.”
The new album, released in June, has been well received by fans and critics. And as Men Without Hats prepares to hit the road again for a new tour in September, Doroschuk remains philosophical about what the future might bring.
“People have historically invested their lives in their art. They invest in it, they lose, they risk losing their families, their fortunes, their health, everything. Everything goes into this, you know? And so, for me, any kind of recognition is, for me, a blessing.”