Men Without Hats are a Canadian new wave and synth-pop band, originally from Montreal, Quebec. Their music is characterized by the 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 (No. 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 group, based in Vancouver, has continued to perform, including tour dates announced in support of the release of two studio albums, Men Without Hats Again (Parts 1 & 2), in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

Men Without Hats
Men Without Hats performing in 2011 (Ivan Doroschuk, vocals; James Love, guitar)
Men Without Hats performing in 2011
(Ivan Doroschuk, vocals; James Love, guitar)
Background information
OriginMontreal, Quebec, Canada
Years active1977–1993, 2002–2003, 2010–present
MembersIvan Doroschuk
Colin Doroschuk
Sho Murray
Sahara Sloan

History edit

Early days edit

Men Without Hats was founded in Montreal in 1977, initially as a punk rock band featuring Ivan Doroschuk (vocals), Pete Seabrooke (guitar), Dave Hill (bass), and John Gurrin (drums). In 1980, Doroschuk restarted Men Without Hats, giving the name to a new synthesizer-based group that he formed with Jérémie Arrobas (vocals, keyboards) and his brothers Stefan Doroschuk (bass) and Colin Doroschuk (guitar).[1] Influences on this electronic outfit included Gary Numan, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) and Ultravox.[2] Years earlier, while in high school, Arrobas and the Doroschuk brothers had played together in a short-lived band called Wave 21,[1] along with drummer Igor Krichevsky.[citation needed] Many years later, Stefan would reuse the Wave 21 name for a country-pop band founded in the late 2010s with his daughters Mary-Lynn and Emmy-Lou.

The Doroschuk brothers, all three of whom are classically trained musicians[citation needed], were born in Champaign, Illinois while their father, a Canadian, was earning a doctoral degree.[3] They moved to Montreal as young children when their parents returned to Canada.[3] 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".[4]

In addition to the Doroschuks, 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.[4]

Their first recording to be released was the 1980 EP Folk of the 80's. At this point, the band had changed styles from punk to new wave and officially consisted of Ivan (vocals, bass) and Arrobas (keyboards); also appearing on the EP were auxiliary members Stefan Doroschuk (bass), Roman Martyn (guitars), and Lysanne 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.[4] Pisapia was replaced briefly by Tracy Howe, who also left in short order, co-founding Rational Youth shortly after his departure.[4] Howe was replaced by keyboardist Mike Gabriel.[4] Arrobas and Gabriel left the group just before the recording of the next album.[5]

International success edit

Ivan and Stefan (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 No. 11 in May 1983. The song soon charted in the United States, spending four weeks at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was a major hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at No. 6.[6] The song also reached the top ten in various other European countries, and peaked at No. 2 in New Zealand and No. 1 in South Africa, where it was the 11th highest-selling single of 1983.

Adding Pierre (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 and Arrobas's 1980 song "Freeways" (which had previously been released as a B-side in 1982). 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 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 electric guitars instead of keyboards, revealed a dramatically different sound for the band, based in part on Ivan's exposure to Nirvana.[7] Ivan said "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 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."[7] The line-up on the album was Ivan on vocals, Félix Matte on lead guitar, John Kastner on rhythm guitar, Stefan on bass, Michel Langevin on drums and Colin on keyboards.

The group officially disbanded in 1993,[8] after the career setback of failing to attract another American label as a result of the negative reception to Sideways. The band's final concert was a benefit to support a women's shelter in Montreal,[citation needed] with guitarist Denis D'Amour replacing Matte and Kastner, who both had left the band in 1992.[citation needed]

Projects during the 1990s and 2000s edit

After disbanding, lead singer Ivan 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.[9] Ivan recorded and released the solo album The Spell in 1997. Former band member Allan McCarthy died due to AIDS complications in 1995.[10] Under the name MacKenzie-Parker Gang, Stefan and Mack MacKenzie (of the Canadian alt-country band Three O'Clock Train) released Ride for Glory (1999), a post-modern Western-themed album.

After a 10-year hiatus, No Hats Beyond This Point was released in November 2003, returning the band to their early new wave style. In interviews around the time of the release, the band had mentioned a tour to support the release and a box set dedicated to the band's early years, which included the Folk of the 80's and Freeways EPs, the band's first two albums, a concert that was televised in 1985, unreleased demos and remixes of "The Safety Dance". None of this came to fruition, though, and the band split up once again in early 2004. This was the end of Stefan's involvement with Men Without Hats.

Colin released two albums with his side solo project "Centrifugal Force" ["Matter", "Excerpts from Matter"], then focued on opera and classical music, first serving as Artistic Director of Montreal's Northern Opera Theatre (85-91) and later as composer-in-residence at British Columbia's Ballet Victoria.[11] His works include the ballets "Peter Pan", "Alice in Wonderland", operas "Medea Metamorphoses", an opera-dance project with the Victoria Symphony & the Coast-Saalish First Nation dancers "Heaven"; A full production of his opera Evangeline, based on a Longfellow poem, was produced by L'Opera de Rimouski in 2014, and was conducted by Doroschuk. [11]

In 2006, the Trilogie Musique label released a DVD titled Live Hats, featuring a 1985 live concert at Le Spectrum theater in Montreal on August 8, 1985 that had been televised. The release was unauthorized by the band, and it was pulled out of print.

Reformation in 2010 edit

Ivan reformed Men Without Hats in 2010 as the frontman and lead vocalist, and was joined by musicians Derek Mansfield (synths) James Love(guitar) & Lou Dawson (synths) [12] The band returned on September 24, 2010, at the Rifflandia Music Festival in Victoria, British Columbia, performing ten songs and hits from the Men Without Hats back catalogue. The revived band was described by the'Austin American-Statesman as "simply singer Ivan Doroschuk and hired guns"[13] and by Stefan as a "tribute band".[14] 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.[15]

In June 2011, Ivan 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 80's (Part IV), but in March 2012, the band posted on Facebook that it would 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.[16] 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."[16]

By 2011, Doroschuk had taken on three of his touring musicians as full band members: James Love on guitar and backing vocals, Louise (Lou) Dawson on keyboards and backing vocals, and Mark Olexson on keyboards and backing vocals, all of whom performed on Love in the Age of War.[7][17] Colin Doroschuk also appeared on the album as a vocalist. After the album was recorded, Doroschuk doubled down on the band's synthesizer-heavy sound by replacing Olexson with Vancouver musician Rachel Ashmore, on keyboards and backing vocals, as the group's second synthesist.[17][12]

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. The band's continuing activity has included tours in Europe in 2015 and 2016.[7][18]

As part of a "Totally '80s" show that toured Australia in July 2016, Doroschuk performed as Men Without Hats without other band members, "singing with the house band...[to] set the stage for a proper visit with the full band".[19] In October 2016, prior to a European tour, Sho Murray replaced Love as guitarist.[18][20]

On January 28, 2020, Ivan announced that he was working on a follow-up to Love in the Age of War, to be titled Again (Parts 1 and 2).[21] A new lineup of the band recorded the two studio albums in Vancouver between July 2020 and January 2021, to be released separately in 2021 and 2022 on the band's new label, Sonic Envy.[22][23] Twelve new original songs were recorded for Again (Part 2), which included "Heaven", a song written in 1985 and performed on the Freeways tour but never recorded in the studio. The five-song Again (Part 1) EP includes a collection of cover songs and a "re-invention" of "Safety Dance" titled “No Friends of Mine".[23] The band announced tour dates beginning in June 2021, with a lineup consisting of Ivan on lead vocals and electronics, Colin Doroschuk on vocals, guitar, and keyboards, and Sho Murray on guitar.[22][24] Colin’s daughter, soprano Sahara Sloan, provided additional vocals on the recording.[23]

Members edit

Current members edit

  • Ivan Doroschuk – vocals, guitar, bass, keyboards, synths, drum programming (1977–1993, 2002–2003, 2010–present)
  • Colin Doroschuk – vocals, keyboards, guitar, bass (1979–1986, 1990–1993, 2020–present)
  • Sho Murray – guitar (2016–present)
  • Adrian White – drums (2018–present)
  • Sahara Sloan – vocals, keyboards (2023–present)[25]

Former members edit

This listing may include a number of session musicians for whom actual membership in the band cannot be confirmed.

  • Pete Seabrooke – guitar (1977–1979)
  • Dave Hill – bass (1977–1979)
  • John Gurrin[26] – drums (1977–1979)
  • Stefan Doroschuk – vocals, guitar, violin, bass, keyboards (1979–1993, 2002–2003)
  • Jérémie Arrobas – keyboards, drums (1979–1980)
  • Lysanne Thibodeau – backing vocals (1980)
  • Roman Martyn – guitar (1980)
  • Jean-Marc Pisapia – guitar, vocals (1980)
  • Tracy Howe – guitar (1980)
  • Pierre Taillefer – keyboards (1980–1982)
  • Allan McCarthy – keyboards (1981–1986; died 1995)
  • Al Gunn – bass (1984–1986)
  • Denis Toupin – drums (1984–1986)
  • Lenny Pinkas – keyboards (1984–1990)
  • Marika Tjelios – bass, backing vocals (1986–1990)
  • Richard Samson – drums (1986–1990)
  • Heidi Garcia – keyboards, vocals (1986–1990)
  • Félix Matte – guitar (1990–1993)
  • John Kastner – guitar (1990–1993)
  • Michel Langevin – drums (1990–1993)
  • Johnny Souranis (Sideways Live Tour) – bass, guitar (1992)
  • Derek Mansfield – synths, programming (2009-2010)
  • Mark Olexson – keyboards (2010–2012)
  • James Love – guitar, bass (2010–2016)
  • Louise Dawson – keyboards (2010–2020)
  • Rachel Ashmore – keyboards (2012–2020)

Timeline edit

Discography edit

Studio albums edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b Barclay, Michael; Jack, Ian A.D.; Schneider, Jason (2011) [2001]. Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance, 1985–1995 (10th anniv. ed.). ECW Press. pp. 128–129. ISBN 978-1-55022-992-9.
  2. ^ Patania, Matthew (October 8, 2021). "Interview: Canadian New Wave Electro-Pop Pioneers Men Without Hats Release New EP, 'Again (Part 1)'". Pulse Music Magazine. Retrieved November 29, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Kadzielawa, Mark (2012). "Men Without Hats". 69 Faces of Rock (interview). Archived from the original on March 15, 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  4. ^ a b c d e "A Brief History". Men Without Hats (official website). 2002–2003. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2012.
  5. ^ Barclay, Michael; Jack, Ian A.D.; Schneider, Jason (2011) [2001]. Have Not Been the Same: The CanRock Renaissance, 1985–1995 (10th anniv. ed.). ECW Press. p. 170. ISBN 978-1-55490-968-1.
  6. ^ "The Official Charts Company – Men Without Hats". Official Charts Company.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Slaidins, Andrew (July 21, 2016). "Men Without Hats – The Ivan Doroschuk Totally 80's Interview". Rock N Roll Damnation. Retrieved November 13, 2016.
  9. ^ Labbé, Richard (May 17, 1997). "Avec The Spell, Ivan retourne aux sources" (PDF). La Presse (in French). Montréal, Québec. p. D4. Archived from the original (PDF) on November 26, 2016. Retrieved November 26, 2016.
  10. ^ "Buried Here - Allan McCarthy, Keyboardist And Drummer For 'Men Without Hats'". Rock & Roll Roadmaps. January 3, 2015. Retrieved December 10, 2023.
  11. ^ a b "Opera-Theatre De Rimouski in June Premiered Colin Doroschuk's Evangeline". Opera Canada. June 22, 2014. Archived from the original on September 11, 2016. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Men Without Hats Speak To SonicAbuse". Sonic Abuse. January 28, 2013. Archived from the original on December 23, 2016.
  13. ^ Gross, Joe (March 18, 2011). "At SXSW, 1990s bands feel different from 1980s band". Austin American-Statesman.
  14. ^ Condran, Ed (November 20, 2012). "Doroschuk leads new Men Without Hats into Ybor". The Tampa Tribune. Archived from the original on November 13, 2016.
  15. ^ Saxberg, Lynn (March 22, 2011). "Sexsmith, Men Without Hats score as festival wraps up". The Vancouver Sun.
  16. ^ 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 April 16, 2016.{{cite magazine}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ a b Loria, Keith (November 20, 2012). "You Can Dance if You Want To". Princeton Packet. Archived from the original on May 13, 2016.
  18. ^ a b Doroschuk, Ivan (October 24, 2016). "Hey everybody, Ivan here. I would like to introduce the new guitar player for Men Without Hats, Mr. Sho Murray..." Facebook. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Love, James (October 24, 2016). "About: Work and Education". Facebook. Retrieved November 9, 2016.
  21. ^ Doroschuk, Ivan (January 28, 2020). "Working on MEN WITHOUT HATS AGAIN PTS. 1 & 2". Facebook. Archived from the original on February 26, 2022. Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  22. ^ a b Dunlevy, T'Cha (September 1, 2020). "Men Without Hats' Safety Dance, Pop Goes the World enter hall of fame". Montreal Gazette. Archived from the original on January 14, 2021.
  23. ^ a b c "Men Without Hats". Sonic Envy Artist and Label Services. 2020. Archived from the original on March 3, 2021.
  24. ^ Pickard, Samantha (February 1, 2021). "Men Without Hats Sign New Label Deal with Sonic Envy". Sonic Envy (Press release). Prezly. Archived from the original on May 6, 2021.
  25. ^ "10 Questions with Sahara Sloan from Men Without Hats". August 16, 2023.
  26. ^ "John Gurrin". Tisch School of the Arts. New York University. Archived from the original on January 18, 2018.

External links edit