1980s band Men Without Hats return to stage

Keyboard player Lou Dawson, lead singer Ivan Doroschuk and guitarist James Love from Men Without Hat

Keyboard player Lou Dawson, lead singer Ivan Doroschuk and guitarist James Love from Men Without Hats - Credit: Archant

When electric rock band Men Without Hats stormed on to the music scene in the 1980s with their Top 10 hit You Can Dance if You Want To, little did they know that the song would have such enduring appeal.

The song is still played extensively on the radio in North America and has featured on The Simpsons and Futurama.

Lead singer and songwriter of the Canadian band, Ivan Doroschuk, said: “It’s a message that people still need to hear – that they can dance if they want to – and it’s never going to get old.

“Peer pressure mostly holds people back from dancing. With social media, peer pressure is even stronger than before.”

The song is typical of the band’s style, which is playful songs with revolutionary messages. Another of their classic hits – Pop Goes the World – is “all about treating the world better than we do”.

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Despite taking a 10-year break to bring up his son and facing a revolving door of band members (30 altogether), the band reached a solid place two years ago with the arrival of three new members – guitarist James Love and keyboardists and singers Lou Dawson and Rachel Ashmore.

The band, which won a Grammy award for best group back in 1983, are embarking on their first European tour in 20 years and will be performing their first and only gig in the UK on Friday at the O2 Academy, where they will play old favourites alongside songs from their new album Love in the Age of War.

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Ivan says the new album is “about the tension in the world”.

He said: “Whether it’s in Greece or the Middle East, people are unhappy, everybody’s got the same problems. We don’t have jobs and are trying to pay the rent.

“Our whole economic system is built around buying stuff. People are seeing their lives have been reduced to trivialism and are starting to wake up and see there’s some other meaning to life. It’s going to spread. People in England, France and Germany are not feeling it yet.

“I read something the other day that the 100 richest people could have eradicated poverty four times over. If you want to bring down the system, don’t buy anything and vote with your money.

“I believe the next big revolution is a spiritual revolution where people realise that the best things in life are free. People spend their life worrying about money but the most important thing in life is love and love is free.”

He says their recently released single Head Above Water “sets the tone” for the album.

“Everybody is in the same boat trying to keep our heads above water, pay the rent, stay healthy.

“One week we’re being told coffee is good for us, the next week it’s bad for us. You don’t know what to expect, it’s all change in the name of marketing as they need to sell more. Our most brilliant minds are being used to sell people stuff. That’s what makes me really sad.

“We could be using all that power to fly through space.”

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