Men Without Hats biography
Men Without Hats is a Canadian new wave rock and synthpop group from Montreal, Quebec, Canada that formed in 1977, achieving their most popularity in the 80s. Best known for their international top 40 hits "The Safety Dance" and "Pop Goes The World", they're characterized by the deep, expressive vocals of their lead singer Ivan and their elaborate use of synthesizers and electronic processing. Men Without Hats were always, at the core, Ivan Doroschuk (who also has released solo work as Ivan) and his brother Stefan Doroschuk joining up with various other members, which have included a third brother, Colin Doroschuk, as well as Jeremy Arrobas, Tracy Howe, Roman Martyn, and Allan McCarthy.
They emerged in the early 80s with an EP called 'Folk of the 80s', a work released in 1980 that showed the Doroschuk family's interest in the electronic sounds of the progressive rock scene. After picking up some local success, the group erupted onto the international scene a couple of years later with their hit single "The Safety Dance". Parent album 'Rhythm of Youth' did very well, reaching all the way to the #13 slot on the Billboard 200 chart. Touring showed that they had captured their own distinctive audience.
Still, the band faced a tough time living up the expectations put upon them by the success of "The Safety Dance", which had a popular music video and hit #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Their follow-up tune "I Like", similar in synthpop spirit, received far less airplay. Their 1984 album 'Folk of the '80s (Part III)' showed the group in flux, the ever shifting 80s music scene seemingly leaving them behind.
Though saddled with the 'one hit wonder' label, Men Without Hats burst back into American and Canadian popular consciousness with their 1987 release 'Pop Goes The World'. The title track reached the #20 slot on the Billboard Hot 100 as well as #2 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and, showing a return to form, the group also devised a compelling music video that had considerable interest. The songs themselves showed a mix of lyrical bite and meta-commentary on the nature of fame as well as understated, even children's music inspired instrumentation and vocals.
"Pop Goes The World" ended up being also featured in the 1987 comedy film 'Date with an Angel', and it became the fifteenth biggest selling single in South Africa for 1988, showing the international appeal of the band. Ivan and Stefan Doroschuk alongside Lenny Pinkas made-up the group at that point. The touring band incorporated Bruce Murphy on keyboards and guitar, Marika Tjelios on bass, Richard Sampson on drums, and Heidi Garcia on vocals and keyboards.
Their next album, 'The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century', was released in 1989. Though getting a bit of interest from having featured a cover of ABBA's song "S.O.S.", the commercial failure of the album showed that their audience had significantly dwindled. The musicians on the album were essentially the touring band from 'Pop Goes the World'.
The band lasted as an electronic group as such into the early 90s, but they decided to drastically change their sound for 1991's 'Sideways'. The aptly-tilted album saw them aping contemporary alternative rock. Alienating many fans, the album didn't even relieve an American release. Soon after this deep career setback, the band officially disbanded.
As time went on, the group's iconic international hits "The Safety Dance" and "Pop Goes The World" continued to receive major airplay, leading some to label the group as a 'two hit wonder'. Ivan Doroschuk and keyboardist Bruce Murphy would record several demos in 1993, for a concept album tentatively titled 'UFO's are Real'. Yet it never was released.
After a few more years, Ivan Doroschuk returned to being a solo artist with the album 'The Spell' in 2000. He decided to perform simply as Ivan. In 2003, Men Without Hats partly reformed, and Ivan self-released the album 'No Hats Beyond This Point'.
On September 24, 2010, Ivan Doroschuk reformed Men Without Hats as a full group, with three hired backup musicians, and his band appeared at the Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, British Columbia. Performing ten songs from the Men Without Hats back catalog, the Ivan-fronted band (described by the Austin American-Statesman as "simply singer Ivan Doroschuk and some hired guns" and by Stefan as a "tribute band") began the "Dance If You Want Tour 2011" with a well attended and positively received performance at Austin's South by Southwest event in March 2011. At the North by Northeast festival in Toronto on June 18, Ivan announced that Men Without Hats would be releasing a new studio album and that it tentatively would be entitled 'Folk of the 80s: Part IV'.
On June 19, 2011, the group played at the Sound of Music Festival in Burlington, Ontario, Canada. Stefan Doroschuk, though rumored to be returning to his brother's group, announced his intention to continue working separately. On March 6, 2012, Ivan Doroschuk's band announced via Facebook that their upcoming album would be called 'Love in the Age of War'.
On 22 April 2012, Men Without Hats released the new single "Head Above Water" from the aformentioned album. Their line-up at that time was Ivan Doroschuk, Lou Dawson, James Love and Rachel Ashmore. 'Love in the Age of War' finally came out on May 22, 2012 in Canada and on June 5, 2012 in the U.S. Their seventh album, it was also the group's first full studio release after a nine-year hiatus.
The band's 2013 tour found them traveling to San Diego, California as well as Mexico City. Going into 2014, the group is still going strong. See: http://safetydance.com/