If you’re a child of the 1970’s or 1980’s, chances are you are rather familiar with the Men Without Hats song Safety Dance. But the fact is, even if you were born in the 90’s or afterwards, the song is a pretty big part of pop history. With six studio albums released since forming in the late 70’s – their songs have been featured on hit TV shows including Glee, The Simpsons, Futurama and Family Guy. The Safety Dance was a bonafide worldwide hit, reaching the Top 10 in the US, the UK and 25 other countries around the world.
After an almost 10 year lay-off, Men Without Hats are back with a great new record that aims to recapture the sound and feeling of the group’s early work. Produced by Dave “Rave” Ogilvie, Love In The Age Of War was released on May 22 and features 10 songs penned by leader Ivan Doroschuk.
The MusicNerd Chronicles recently had the pleasure of talking with Men Without Hats Ivan Doroschuk about his group embracing the past while confidently striding forward to the future.
It’s been quite some time since we’ve heard anything from the band. What have you been up to?
Doroschuk: For the past 10 years, I have been a stay-at-home Dad and it has been one of the most fulfilling and most amazing experiences ever. I had nothing to do with music that whole time. I wasn’t writing and I wasn’t performing. It is as though I had completely walked away from it.
Did having that “time off” help you gain a better appreciation for all you had done up to that point in your career?
Doroschuk: Absolutely! To take that time off and have that distance really helped me appreciate how fortunate we have been.
What ignited your desire to get back into music after having taken such a long span of time off?
Doroschuk: Last year, Men Without Hats were asked to do a tour with the B-52’s and Human League. We ended up playing 50-60 shows all over North America and just couldn’t believe the reception that we were given. The tour was so relaxed and so much fun to do plus it was really the first time that we had gone out and done a “hits” tour. We had never really re-visited our catalogue in such depth prior to last year because, in the past, we would release a new record and want to play as much of that as possible during our live shows.
So it’s safe to assume that a new record was not a part of the plan?
Doroschuk: It’s very safe to say that. We had no new project on the table at all. These songs on our new record ended up coming together on the back of the bus, on my iPad, while we were touring last year. By the end of the tour, I had essentially written a complete record.
Were you ever concerned that, given the success of Safety Dance and Pop Goes The World, that people would be hesitant to receive new music from the band?
Doroschuk: I always maintained that we would never make another record unless I truly believed that the music we were making would be relevant today. Dave [Ogilive] and I intentionally set out to make Love In The Age Of War sound as though it was made in the 80’s.
Rather than intentionally limiting yourselves technologically, why not embrace all that technology has to offer in 2012?
Doroschuk: Dave and I wanted to make a record in the same vein as Safety Dance and get a “classic” sound so seeking out the specific instrumentation featured on the new record helped ensure that the sound was true. Rather than keeping in mind that we had all this technology at our disposal, we tried to have the mind frame that we only had 24-tracks to work with rather than knowing we had an infinite number of tracks. Technology has come so far since [1987’s] Pop Goes The World. Pop music has become a lot more orchestral and symphonic. We didn’t have limitless tracks back then. When you were making a record back then, you had to find the sound and then put it down. That’s how it was.
Will it be another 10 years before we hear more new music from Men Without Hats?
Doroschuk: Absolutely not. Another thing that I have realized with getting a new record completed is just how much I have missed songwriting. We are about to do some more touring with the B-52’s and Human League and I’m hoping that my time spent at the back of the bus will be as fruitful as the last time I toured with them.