Exclusive Interview with Men Without Hats

“Men Without Hats” is one of my favourite Canadian New Wave bands from the 80’s. For years I have enjoyed their synthesizer electronic Pop music with songs like The Safety Dance and Pop Goes The World. After meeting MWH front man Ivan Doroschuk recently at Mushroom Studios (they were recording a new album there!) he agreed to answer a few questions for VanMusic.

VanMusic: Men Without Hats recently recorded new material at Mushroom studios, can you tell us a bit about what we should expect from the new record?

Ivan: It’s a return to the classic MWH sound of the Folk Of The 80s trilogy (FOTE ep, Rhythm Of Youth, FOTE pt.3) that we became known for at the beginning, all analog pre-sampling/midi/computer era type gear like the Yamaha CS50, mini Moog, Prophet 5, Jupiter 8, Arp Odyssey,Linn drum,etc.. it’s the vintage MWH sound brought into the present by the magic of Dave “Rave” Ogilvie, and because of that it’s a bit more rock than before. It’s like an electronic rock record.We also approached it as if we were making it back then, when sequencers didn’t exist and everything was played manually, and since there was no midi, sounds weren’t as layered as they eventually became. We sort of loosely pretended we were working on a 24 channel board, as wewould have back then, thus limiting the number of tracks available and having to really make sure each one counts, as opposed to today’s virtual studios where the number of tracks is unlimited. It was a double bonus to work with Dave at Mushroom, I got a two-for-one on legends!


VM: MWH are pioneers of Canadian Electro Pop starting in the late 70’s/ early 80’s. What are the main changes that you have found in the Canadian music industry since starting out? Or has it even really changed much at all?

Ivan: It seems to be pretty much the same as always, with Canada being somewhat of a subsidiary of the American music industry, although we’ve always been very good at supplying them with stars, from Paul Anka to Carly Rae Jepsen . We actually have to make 2 deals in Canada, one for English Canada, and one for Quebec.

VM: When did you know that music was the direction you were taking with your life? Was there at moment where you were like, “this is it”?

Ivan: Playing my first big show in 1979, on stage at the St.Denis theater in Montreal in front of 750 people opening up for XTC. I remember thinking to myself how comfortable it felt .


VM: If you were to dabble in any other musical genre what genre would it be and why?

Ivan: Country, I’ve got a bunch of songs demoed up already. I’ve always been a big fan, my dad played with Hank Snow and Hank Williams when he was growing up in Manitoba. I’m a member of the BCCMA, and I even presented the SOCAN songwriter award at their gala a couple of years ago.

VM: MWH have made some really great videos (Pop Goes the World, Safety Dance), I’m curious and I’m sure you have been asked this before BUT who made up the actual Safety Dance ? The one that is in the video?

Ivan: I can’t take any credit for that, it was the video director Tim Pope’s idea.

VM: Any plans for a MWH Canadian tour in the near future this year?

Ivan: We’re starting in Montreal at the end of May to coincide with the record release, our summer’s starting to get pretty booked, the B52s & The Human League have asked us to go out with them again on their North-American tour, and there’s talk of us going out with The Fixx also. We will be busy!

VanMusic: Stay tuned folks! Lots more to come from Men Without Hats!

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