Dance if you want to: Q&A with Ivan Doroschuk of Men Without Hats
The recent revival of the synth pop sound of the 80s — combined with a generation of aging hipsters yearning relive their misspent youth — is providing the perfect storm for Men Without Hats’ Ivan Doroschuk to once again urge his fellow citizens to dance if they want to, and leave their friends behind (cue the dancing dwarf in the English countryside!).
After a highly-regarded appearance at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas, NXNE wisely snagged Doroschuk for an appearance in Toronto this week, culminating in a blow-out 80s extravaganza this Saturday night at Yonge-Dundas Square alongside fellow 80s icons Devo. We spoke with Doroschuk about the return of Men Without Hats and the enduring popularity of the mega-hit ‘Safety Dance.’
Men Without Hats kind of disappeared for a while and seemed to be gone for good. What happened?
I've been a stay at home dad. I moved to Victoria. This is my first child, and I decided I wanted to be hands on. I completely took time off and did it.’
What brings you back?
My son is old enough now to understand what I'm doing and appreciate it. The songs have not left the public eye, so it's given me a chance to do this. Stuff like Glee and The Simpsons all the way back to Beavis and Butthead. It’s great. 'Pop Goes the World' is a soccer chant all over the world.
What's been the most challenging part about putting this project together?
To tell you the truth, there has been nothing really challenging. Being a stay at home dad kept me in shape. The fact that we're not going out with a new record means there is not really any pressure, no recording company pushing an agenda. It is all our own initiative.
So getting right back in saddle and playing these songs has been easy?
It is like riding a bicycle. I realized it is kind of what I was built to do, I guess. It's been great. Great being back, crowds have been really great and behind us, really sweet.
So when did the comeback begin?
It started last year at Rifflandia, last September in Victoria. Then we had two shows in Texas, at South by Southwest.
Safety Dance has obviously been a huge hit. What inspired that song?
Me being kicked out of bars in the early 80s for pogoing. In the late 70s, it was the end of the disco era, and punk was just starting out. And, I mean, there were just a couple of punk songs getting played in clubs, ‘Rock Lobster’ (B52s), ‘Heart of Glass’ by Blondie — whenever these songs would come on, punk and new wavers would jump up and start pogoing. It was viewed as abnormal behaviour, and we’d get the boot usually … that’s literally what inspired it.
That song has appeared in countless TV shows and has been covered dozens of times. What's been your favourite?
My favourite pop culture reference has been the Beavis and Butthead one where I come prancing down in the field. One of them says, “Who is this, Michael Jackson?” That one gives me a lot of pleasure.
Men Without Hats, Yonge Dundas Square, June 18