Men Without Hats

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Men Without Hats
Ivan Doroschuk.jpg
Men Without Hats performing in 2011
(Ivan Doroschuk, vocals; James Love, guitar)
Background information
Origin Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Genres New wave, synthpop
Years active 1977–1992, 2003, 2010–present
Labels Virgin, MCA, Mercury, Sire, Statik, PolyGram
Website safetydance.com
Members Ivan Doroschuk
Lou Dawson
James Love
Rachel Ashmore
Past members
  • Jérémie Arrobas
  • Colin Doroschuk
  • Stefan Doroschuk
  • Michel Langevin
  • Roman Martyn
  • Felix Matte
  • Allan McCarthy
  • Lysanne Thibodeau
  • Lenny Pinkas

Men Without Hats is a Canadian new wave group, originally from Montreal, Quebec. Their music is characterized by the distinctive baritone voice of their lead singer Ivan Doroschuk as well as their elaborate use of synthesizers and electronic processing. They achieved their greatest popularity in the 1980s with "The Safety Dance", a worldwide Top Ten hit (#3 in the United States) and "Pop Goes the World". After a hiatus for most of the 1990s and 2000s, Doroschuk reformed the band in 2010, and released Love in the Age of War (2012). The reformed group, based in Vancouver, has continued to perform, including a European tour in 2015 and Australia in 2016.[1]

History[edit]

Early days[edit]

Men Without Hats was founded in Montreal in 1977, and initially consisted of Ivan Doroschuk (vocals, keyboards) and Jérémie Arrobas (keyboards & electronics), as well as Ivan's brother Stefan (guitars). A third Doroschuk brother, Colin, later joined to perform on electronics and backing vocals. The group has also included numerous additional members and guest or touring performers, many of whom quickly came and left during the first five years. Frontman and songwriter Ivan Doroschuk was the only constant member, while Stefan and Colin Doroschuk as well as Arrobas remained as relatively steady members through the early 1980s.[citation needed]

The Doroschuk brothers, all three of whom were born in Champaign, Illinois, while their Canadian father was earning a doctoral degree, had moved to Montreal as young children when their parents returned to Canada.[2] The group's name came about because the brothers, following a self-described principle of "style before comfort," refused to wear hats during Montreal's cold winters, calling themselves "the men without hats."[3]

Their first recording to be released was the 1980 EP Folk of the 80's. At this point, the band officially consisted of Ivan Doroschuk and Jérémie Arrobas; also appearing on the EP were auxiliary members Stefan Doroschuk (bass), Roman Martyn (guitars), and Lynne Thibodeau (backing vocals).[citation needed]

Shortly after the release of the debut EP, Martyn left and was replaced by Jean-Marc Pisapia, who stayed only a short time before leaving, and later founded The Box.[3] Pisapia was replaced briefly by Tracy Howe, who also left in short order, co-founding Rational Youth shortly after his departure.[3]

International success[edit]

Ivan and Stefan Doroschuk (now promoted to full membership status) subsequently recruited Allan McCarthy (percussion, electronics) to join the group, and recorded their 1982 full-length debut album Rhythm of Youth. The trio subsequently enjoyed a hit in Canada with "The Safety Dance", which peaked at #11 in May 1983. The song soon charted in the United States, spending four weeks at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a major hit in the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #6.[4] The song also reached the top ten in various other European countries, peaked at #2 in New Zealand, and was rated the 11th biggest-selling single of the year in South Africa in 1983.

Adding Colin Doroschuk (who had guested on Rhythm of Youth) as an official fourth member, Men Without Hats released the album Folk of the 80's (Part III) in 1984. While lead single "Where Do The Boys Go?" was a top 40 hit in Canada, the album failed to match the international success of Rhythm of Youth.

In 1985, the band released the EP Freeways, consisting of multiple (and multi-lingual) remixes of one of their earliest efforts, Ivan Doroschuk and Jérémie Arrobas's 1980 song "Freeways". To support the EP, the group undertook a related tour, footage from which would later (in 2006) be released on DVD as Live Hats.

Reshuffling the line-up again, the band released the album Pop Goes the World in 1987 with Ivan, Stefan, and Lenny Pinkas. The song "Pop Goes the World" reached No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100, No. 2 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and was No. 1 in Austria. The song was later featured in the 1987 film Date with an Angel, and became the fifteenth biggest selling single in South Africa for 1988.

The group's next album, The Adventures of Women & Men Without Hate in the 21st Century, released in 1989, featured a cover of ABBA's song "SOS." The musicians on the album were essentially the touring band from Pop Goes the World, which included Bruce Murphy on keyboards and guitar, Marika Tjelios on bass, Richard Sampson on drums, and Heidi Garcia on vocals and keyboards.

The 1991 album Sideways, dominated by processed electric guitars instead of keyboards, revealed a dramatically different sound for the band, based in part on Ivan Doroschuk's exposure to Nirvana.[5] According to Doroschuk, "We had a contractual obligation for one more album with Polygram so I said to them, we'll take half of the allotted budget if they would allow us to do the record I wanted... so we did this guitar-oriented record but Polygram were horrified. 'Men Without Hats without keyboards aren’t going to work,' they claimed and that was the end of the story with Polygram."[5] The group officially disbanded, after the career setback of failing to attract another American label as a result of the album's negative reception.

Projects during the 1990s and 2000s[edit]

After disbanding, lead singer Ivan Doroschuk and keyboardist Bruce Murphy went on to record several demos in 1993 for a concept album tentatively titled UFO's are Real, which was never released. Ivan Doroschuk released a solo album, The Spell, in 1997.

Former band member Allan McCarthy died due to AIDS complications in 1995.

Under the name MacKenzie-Parker Gang, Stefan Doroschuk and Mack MacKenzie (of the Canadian alt-country band Three O'Clock Train) released Ride for Glory (1999), a post-modern Western-themed album.

Colin Doroschuk turned his attention to opera and classical music, becoming Artistic Director of Montreal's Northern Opera Theatre and composer-in-residence at British Columbia's Ballet Victoria.[6]

Ivan and Stefan Doroschuk regrouped as Men Without Hats for the album No Hats Beyond This Point in 2003, but did not remain active as a band. After the album's release, the hiatus resumed for another seven years.

Reformation in 2010[edit]

Ivan Doroschuk reformed Men Without Hats in 2010 as the frontman and lead vocalist, no longer playing keyboards, and joined by hired backup musicians. The Ivan-fronted band debuted on September 24, 2010, at the Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, British Columbia, performing ten songs from the Men Without Hats back catalogue. The revived band was described by the Austin American-Statesman as "simply singer Ivan Doroschuk and some hired guns"[7] and by Stefan Doroschuk as a "tribute band."[8] Despite these initial reactions, the band's "Dance If You Want Tour" opened in March 2011 with a well-attended and positively received performance at Austin's South by Southwest event.[9]

In June 2011, Doroschuk told a festival audience that the group would record a new studio album, announcing the news at North by Northeast in Toronto. The album was originally to be titled Folk of the 80s: Part IV, but in March 2012, the band posted on Facebook that it would instead be called Love in the Age of War, and would be released that summer.

Love in the Age of War, produced by Dave Ogilvie of Skinny Puppy, was released in June 2012 and received mostly favorable reviews. Ogilvie and Doroschuk set out to faithfully reproduce and update the group's classic synthesizer sound of the 1980s, intentionally making a follow-up album to 1982's Rhythm of Youth.[10] According to Doroschuk, they pretended to be "working on a 24-track machine, for example, and not the virtual, infinity-plus-one number of tracks that you can get today. We went out and got the old synths that we used back then... the identical instruments, so it wasn't soft synths, it was really real synthesizers."[10]

By 2011, Doroschuk had taken on two twenty-something musicians as full band members: James Love on guitar and backing vocals, and Louise (Lou) Dawson on keyboards and backing vocals, both of whom performed on Love in the Age of War.[5][11] Colin Doroschuk also appeared on the album as a vocalist, and toured with the band as its fourth member until 2012. After the album was recorded, Doroschuk doubled down on the band's synthesizer-heavy sound by replacing Colin with Rachel Ashmore, on keyboards and backing vocals, as the group's second synthesist.[11]

Men Without Hats again toured the United States in 2013, as part of the 1980s-themed "Regeneration Tour," with contemporaries such as Howard Jones, Andy Bell of Erasure, and Berlin. Continuing activity has included shows in Europe in 2015,[5] and an Australian tour in 2016.[1]

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

EPs[edit]

Compilation albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

Year Single Peak chart positions Certifications
(sales thresholds)
Album
CAN
[12]
AUT
[13]
NZ
[14]
UK
[4]
US
[15]
US Dance
[16]
US Main
[17]
1982 "I Like" 84 Rhythm of Youth
"The Safety Dance" 11 7 2 6 3 1 21
"I Got the Message" 99
"Living in China"
1984 "Where Do the Boys Go?" 30 39 Folk of the 80's (Part III)
1987 "Pop Goes the World" 2 1 15 20 27 Pop Goes the World
"Moonbeam" 23 46
1989 "Hey Men" 8 The Adventures of Woman & Men
Without Hate in the 21st Century
"In the 21st Century" 35
1991 "Sideways" 50 Sideways
2012 "Head Above Water" Love in the Age of War
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Music videos[edit]

  • "Nationale 7"
  • "Security"
  • "Antarctica"
  • "The Safety Dance"
  • "I Like"
  • "Where Do the Boys Go?"
  • "Pop Goes the World"
  • "Moonbeam"
  • "Hey Men"
  • "In the 21st Century"
  • "Sideways"

DVDs[edit]

Covers[edit]

Cover songs recorded[edit]

Songs covered by others[edit]

  • The Montreal-based punk band The Nils performed a cover of "Pop Goes the World" on their compilation release Green Fields in Daylight.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dent, Nick (February 4, 2016). "The strange, happy life of the guy who wrote 'Safety Dance'". Time Out (Sydney, Australia). Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. 
  2. ^ Kadzielawa, Mark (2012). "Men Without Hats". 69 Faces of Rock (interview). Archived from the original on March 15, 2016. 
  3. ^ a b c "A Brief History". Men Without Hats (official website). 2002–2003. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13. Retrieved 2012-04-16. 
  4. ^ a b "Chart Stats - Men Without Hats". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on September 3, 2011. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c d Sharp, Keith (October 1, 2015). "Men Without Hats: Strike Off the Bucket List". The Music Express. Canada. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Opera-Theatre De Rimouski in June Premiered Colin Doroschuk's Evangeline". Opera Canada. June 22, 2014. Retrieved May 12, 2016 – via HighBeam Research. (subscription required (help)). 
  7. ^ Joe Gross, "At SXSW, 1990s bands feel different from 1980s band", Austin American-Statesman, March 18, 2011.
  8. ^ Stefan Doroschuk, Men Without Hats Official Forum, February 2, 2011.
  9. ^ Lynn Saxberg, "Sexsmith, Men Without Hats score as festival wraps up", The Vancouver Sun, March 22, 2011.
  10. ^ a b Nagy, Evie (June 12, 2012). "Q&A: Men Without Hats' Ivan Doroschuk on New Album, Meeting Carly Rae Jepsen and the Return of New Wave". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 2016-04-16. 
  11. ^ a b Loria, Keith (November 20, 2012). "You Can Dance if You Want To". The Princeton Packet. Archived from the original on 2016-05-13. 
  12. ^ "Results - RPM - Library and Archives Canada - Top Singles". RPM. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  13. ^ "austriancharts.at - Austria Top 40". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  14. ^ "charts.org.nz - New Zealand charts portal". Hung Medien. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Men Without Hats Album & Song Chart History - Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Men Without Hats Album & Song Chart History - Dance/Club Play Songs". Billboard. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Men Without Hats : Allmusic : Billboard Singles". Allmusic. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum Search - Music Canada - Singles". Music Canada. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  19. ^ "BPI Searchable Database". BPI. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 

External links[edit]