Men Without Hats front man Ivan Doroschuk.

Men Without Hats’ front man enjoys pop-culture revival

From hit TV shows like The Simpsons and Glee to classic movies like Hot Tub Time Machine, Ivan Doroschuk welcomes all the recent pop-culture references to his band’s most famous song, The Safety Dance.



From hit TV shows like The Simpsons and Glee to classic movies like Hot Tub Time Machine, Ivan Doroschuk welcomes all the recent pop-culture references to his band’s most famous song, The Safety Dance.

But there’s one reference in particular that stands out for the Men Without Hats front man.

“My favourite one, until they make a better one, is the Beavis and Butthead one,” Doroschuk told the Castlegar News from his home in Victoria.

For those who haven’t seen it, that particular reference comes as the dim-witted duo are watching the 1982 video for The Safety Dance and, between picking their noses and smelling their own hands, opine on the lyrics.

“This butthole keeps saying he can dance but, it’s like, he can’t dance,” observes Butthead.

“Yeah,” concurs Beavis. “They need to like, go to a Pantera concert and learn how to dance.”

Far from taking offence to getting razzed by a couple of animated teenagers, Doroschuk describes himself as lucky to have his music repeatedly re-introduced to new generations of potential fans.

It’s thanks to these TV shows and movies, in fact, that he decided to start performing under the Men Without Hats banner again and launch the “Dance If You Want Tour 2011.”

“I kept seeing The Safety Dance and Pop Goes the World being referenced in pop culture all the time,” Doroschuk explained.

“It gave me the impeteus to go and do it.”

The tour kicked off at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, in March and begins its Canadian leg on May 6 in Victoria followed by shows in Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and then Castlegar.

So how did the small, West Kootenay community make it on to a tour schedule otherwise filled by so much larger centres?

“I don’t know,” Doroschuk admitted, noting that it’s the people with his PR agency who “do all the booking.”

But, he added: “I’m looking forward to rocking out in Castlegar.”

People who attend the show can expect to hear all the Men Without Hats classics, he added.

“It’s going to be like a greatest hits package,” Doroschuk said. “One of the cool things about this tour is I don’t have a new record to promote.”

While Doroschuk is the only original member of the group performing on tour, as the band’s lead singer and keyboardist, he’s likely the face and voice most people still associate with Men Without Hats.

The band formed in Montreal in the late 1970s and became an international sensation when they released their debut album, Rhythm of Youth, in 1982. The album included the hit single The Safety Dance, which made various top-10 charts across Canada, the United States and throughout Europe.

The band’s 1987 album Pop Goes the World and its title track also achieved international success.

But for the better part of the past decade, Doroschuk has taken time off to focus on his family.

“I moved out to Victoria to be a stay-at-home dad,” he said. “For the last 10 years, I haven’t been doing music at all.”

But now that his son is older — and starting to appreciate Men Without Hats’ music himself — Doroschuk decided it was time to get back at it.

He was encouraged by the audience reaction he received at the Rifflandia music festival in Victoria last September.

“The crowd was multigenerational,” Doroschuk said. “Our original fans were there and then there were these whole new fans.”

Part of the band’s resurgence in popularity is due to a general fascination with 1980s culture at the moment, Doroschuk said, but again he credits those seemingly ubiquitous pop culture references — especially the recent inclusion of The Safety Dance as one of the numbers on the hit musical TV show Glee.

“The Glee thing last year … brought us a whole new age category of fans,” he said.

“Even my son knows The Safety Dance from ‘The Crazy Frog’ franchise. He saw it on the Disney Channel.”

Men Without Hats is set to play at the Element night club in Castlegar on May 15.

Tickets are $20 in advance and available directly from Element as well as Tribute Boardshop in Nelson, or online. Visit clubelement.ca for more details.

Ivan Doroschuk