Meet Men Without Hats [PHOTOS, VIDEOS]
“Men Without Hats” is a Canadian New Wave band from Montreal. Their music is notable for the distinctive baritone voice of lead singer Ivan Doroschuk, and their elaborate use of synthesizers and electronic processing.
Men Without Hats initially consisted of Ivan Doroschuk (vocals, keyboards) and Jeremie Arrobas (keyboards & electronics), plus Ivan’s brother Stefan (guitars). Others would come and go, including a third Doroschuk brother, Colin (electronics).
The band was founded in 1977, and would undergo numerous personnel changes through the rest of the decade, with Stefan, Colin, and Arrobas as the only constants joining Ivan.
How did the band come up with their name?
Ivan and his two brothers, following a self-described principle of “style before comfort”, refused to wear hats during Montreal’s cold winters! They called themselves “the men without hats.” On a humorous note, a popular (but false) band-related story has an announcer at an early concert misreading the band’s name as “Men Without Pants.”
Men Without Hats first record was the EP “Folk Of The 80’s”, released in 1980.
Numerous lineup changes would occur before the band would score their first HIT record…
Upon adding Allan McCarthy (percussion, electronics) to the band, Men Without Hats recorded their 1982 debut album “Rhythm Of Youth.”
“The Safety Dance” was an immediate hit in Canada, peaking at #11 in May 1983.
Soon, Men Without Hats blasted onto the international scene when “The Safety Dance” spent four weeks at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S (#3/1983).
“The Safety Dance” was also a major hit on the UK Singles Chart, peaking at #6. It hit the top ten in several European countries. The song also peaked at #2 in New Zealand, and was the eleventh biggest selling single of the year in South Africa in 1983!
1984’s “Folk Of The 80’s (Part III),” and the 1985 album “Freeways” failed to match the international success of “Rhythm Of Youth.” Oops.
Once again shuffling the lineup (Ivan, Stefan and Lenny Pinkas), the band released the album “Pop Goes The World” in 1987.
The title track brought the band back to international prominence!
“”Pop Goes The World” reached #20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S (#20/1988).
It hit #2 on the Canadian Singles Chart, and was #1 in Austria. The song was also featured in the 1987 film “Date With An Angel,” and became the fifteenth biggest selling single in South Africa for 1988.
Men Without Hats’ next album “The Adventures Of Women & Men Without Hate In The 21st Century” (what a long title for a small CD jewel case) featured a cover version of the 1970’s ABBA hit song “SOS” (did not chart).
The musicians on this 1989 album were basically the touring band from “Pop Goes the World.”
With the band’s “synthpop” sound falling out of style by 1991, the “Sideways” album was filled with processed electric guitars (instead of keyboards)! This album was not released in the United States…no label would issue it!
This setback brought an official end to the band…although members Ivan Doroschuk and Bruce Murphy (keyboards) would record several demos in 1993 for a concept album tentatively called “UFO’s Are Real.” This album was never released.
In 1995, former band member Allan McCarthy died of AIDS complications.
Men Without Hats lead singer Ivan Doroschuk released a solo album “The Spell” in 1997.
But wait…when all looks bleak…
In 2003, Stefan and Ivan Doroschuk regrouped to release the album “No Hats Beyond This Point.”
On September 24, 2010, Ivan (again) reformed “Men Without Hats,” with three hired backup musicians, and appeared at a music festival in British Columbia…performing ten songs from the “Men Without Hats” repertoire.
An Ivan-fronted band (described as “simply singer Ivan Doroschuk and some hired guns,” and by Stefan as a “tribute band”) ran a limited tour, calling it the “Dance If You Want Tour 2011.”
On March 6, 2012, the band announced on their facebook page, that the “Love In The Age Of War” album would soon be out…it was released in June 2012, and got mostly favorable reviews.
Check out “Men Without Hats” on facebook here!
Men Without Hats continues to tour…
And, regardless of what the future may bring, “Men Without Hats” will live on forever through “The Safety Dance,” which continues to get radio airplay…
…and is prominent on numerous 1980’s Hits compilations!