TORONTO — What’s the ultimate reward for penning a hit song with an incredibly infectious hook? For Men Without Hats singer Ivan Doroschuk, it was seeing soccer fans around the world chant Pop Goes the World in unison.
“I kind of feel like I did my job, you know?” the singer said of his 1987 hit from Victoria. “It’s the people — they’re using it for free. It’s out there, you know?”
Doroschuk, who is set to embark on a Men Without Hats reunion tour Friday, says he gets videos from fans around the world who want to show him that their local soccer crowds are singing his song.
It’s just one of the many ways that younger music lovers are discovering Men Without Hats, the ’80s new wave band that also shot up the charts with Safety Dance.
“(They hear the songs) all kinds of ways, that’s one thing that really amazes me,” says Doroschuk.
“Like, some of them through Glee . . . all the way up to the Hugh Jackman Lipton tea commercial (that features Safety Dance). All kinds of stuff — Beavis and Butthead, The Simpsons, their parents.”
Many of those parents discovered Men Without Hats during the band’s heyday in the 1980s.
Formed in Montreal in 1977, the unusual moniker reportedly came about because Doroschuk and his fashion-conscious brothers refused to wear hats even in the city’s frigid winter.
The group released several albums with a rotating cast of members (Doroschuk remained a constant). The last official Men Without Hats record was 1991’s Sideways.
Then, 10 years ago, Doroschuk stepped out of the spotlight to become a full-time father.
The singer says his son — now 10 — had only a vague idea about dad’s former career. He finally realized the extent of it through the computer animated character Crazy Frog, which redid Safety Dance.
“They did a really hip video for it last year that was on (TV) every 10 minutes,” says Doroschuk.
“That’s when (my son) kind of clued in and all his friends at school were talking about it. His whole generation knows about it through that.”
The original video for Safety Dance was memorable as well, featuring a dwarf and a wench joyfully dancing through a medieval themed village.
“I flew there and back on Concorde,” Doroschuk recalls of the video’s two-day shoot just outside Bath, England. “It was my idea to do a Pied Piper thing.”
Doroschuk says the other big Men Without Hats hit, Pop Goes the World, started out as a little ditty intended to be played in between songs.
“At the beginning it was just a riff, it was an instrumental and I had planned it to be a ’Popcorn’ type of instrumental song so I wrote it and I had about 15 other songs,” recalls Doroschuk.
“I sent it to the A&R guy — he was Derek Shulman from the band Gentle Giant … I sent him the demo with 15 songs and this little sort of one-minute instrumental … and he called back and told me that the first 15 songs were no good and to take that little one- minute song and make a real song out of it with a verse and chorus and then write 12 more just like it.”
Doroschuk’s reworking of the instrumental ditty, of course, became a massive hit that fans still clamour to hear.
The singer found that out when he emerged from his self-imposed hiatus to play Victoria’s Rifflandia music festival last September. That was followed by an appearance at this spring’s South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Tex.
“It was great,” he said. “The fans were so welcoming. It was just so much fun.”
Doroschuk is working on new music, but said that the upcoming tour will be all about the old songs — which will no doubt be lapped up by a new generation of concert-goers.
“It’s a family friendly show this time,” he said.
“All your favourite Men Without Hats songs … it’s a greatest Hats tour.”
The Dance If You Want Tour kicks off in Victoria on Friday, followed by dates in Vancouver, Grande Prairie, Edmonton, Calgary, Castlegar, B.C., Regina, Toronto and Montreal.