One of the most iconic songs from the 80s is “Safety Dance” by Canadian electropop band Men Without Hats. Since their formation in 1978, Men Without Hats have been at the forefront of popular electronic music, creating worldwide anthems of joy and positivity that have weathered all musical styles and trends, mirroring and recounting the mysteries and challenges of the space and time we live in.
Almost forty years after the release of the iconic song, the band is back with a sequel: “No Friends of Mine”. Ivan Doroschuk, the band’s lead vocalist and songwriter, talked to ai love music about being in the music industry for forty years, about the long term of “Safety Dance”, as well as the release of “No Friends of Mine”. Find out below what inspired Doroschuk to write Men Without Hats’ latest single. Also, listen to the single below and let me know what you think!
First of all, please introduce yourself!
Hello, my name is Ivan Doroschuk, I’m the lead vocalist and principal songwriter for the ‘80s new wave band Men Without Hats.
You have been in the scene for 40+ years. What are your proudest accomplishments?
Two of my songs, “Safety Dance” and “Pop Goes The World”, were just inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame, which was a great honor for us. When “Safety Dance” hit #1 on the Billboard Dance Chart and Men Without Hats got nominated for a Grammy, that was pretty exciting as well. But I was especially proud when “Safety Dance” was featured on the Simpsons!
You’re known for your iconic 80s tune “Safety Dance”. What was it like producing it?
It was only our second time in the studio, so we didn’t have much experience to fall back on. We just let our imaginations run wild and basically improvised our way through it. I remember the recording session being very intense, but a lot of fun also, kind of like the song itself. Looking back, I realize that even though we definitely had visions of grandeur, we had absolutely no idea what we were getting ourselves into!
How does it feel that “Safety Dance” is named one of the iconic songs of the 80s and used in various media like Sirius XM’s Saturday Night Safety Dance program?
I am truly blessed to be such a recognizable part of ‘80s pop culture, it’s the reason we’re still out there performing. The universal appeal of “Safety Dance” makes me feel that it’s almost my duty to go out and present it to the public, and it sometimes seems like I’m the curator of a traveling museum piece!
MTV just turned 40! You were one of the biggest acts in the early days of the channel. How did it feel to ride high on that success?
MTV was, without a doubt, a very big factor in our success. Those were exciting times, it was a new technology promoting a new style of music and art, the total expression of a new generation. We were on top of the world!
How has the band been able to take on the ever-changing world of synthpop (and electronic music)? How do you keep your music fresh for today’s audience?
Today’s audience keeps the music fresh for us! People are still listening to, if not ‘80s music outright, music that is very heavily influenced by the ‘80s. Angel Olson just released an ep of ‘80s covers featuring Safety Dance, It’s an era that has touched people in the same way that Disco has since the ‘70s, possibly because they’re both dance music?
Let’s talk about your newest single “No Friends Of Mine”. What inspired you to create this re-invented version of “Safety Dance”?
I imagined a scenario in which I returned to West Kington in Wiltshire, where the original “Safety Dance” video was shot. The jester had become the longstanding mayor of the village, he had married the crazy blonde girl and they had raised a large and beautiful family. We laughed and cried as we sat around the table telling tales of adventures long gone. This is the soundtrack of that encounter.
What was producing the single like? What were your favorite parts of the production?
We built a studio high up on a mountain on Vancouver Island overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Canada’s West Coast and spent 7 months in complete isolation recording over 20 songs. One of my favorite parts of the production was having a family of 13 peacocks on the property, and watching the baby peacocks grow into young adults during the time we were there. That and the massive 21-keyboard rig that we built in the main room of the studio.
The band is releasing an EP soon. What can you tell me about it?
It’s a five-song covers album, featuring songs by Lou Reed (“Satellite of Love”), The Rolling Stones (“2000 Light Years From Home”), Mott The Hoople (“All The Young Dudes”), The Tragically Hip (“Blow At High Dough”), and Men Without Hats (“Safety Dance”)!
What do you want listeners to take away from your music?
You can STILL dance if you want to!
Make sure to check out Men Without Hats at the following