Ivan Doroschuck: Men Without Hats, Safety Dance, Muhammad Ali, Floyd Mayweather, JR, MTV & More…
Exclusive Interview by “Bad” Brad Berkwitt
“Floyd Mayweather, JR. is one of the most boring boxers I have ever seen. The fact that he has been so dominant also illustrates why I lost a bit of interest in the sport.”—Ivan Doroschuck
In 1982, a Canadian band released their debut album (for you youngsters, they were around before CD’s) called “Rhythm of Youth” with Ivan Doroschuck as Lead Singer and his brother Stefan Doroschuck on guitar. The group also recruited Allan McCarthy, a percussionist. The band was “Men Without Hats”, and a song on that album called “The Safety Dance” became a smash hit in Canada, peaking at number #11 on the charts in May of 1983. From there, “The Safety Dance” went on to be an international hit, peaking at number #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the United States, and having success in other parts of the world.
A video accompanied this song, with Ivan, front and center in mid evil times, running around with a midget who had been seen in the movie “Willow”. The song was played heavily on MTV, VH1, and the old Friday Night Videos. You could tell Ivan enjoyed, at least from my viewpoint, doing the video and, as we say in the acting world, he popped on camera.
“The Safety Dance” was such a huge hit that I feel it didn’t allow other great songs, such as, “I Got The Message” (I have now played this song for the last two weeks on my computer while I worked probably 15 times a day, just ask my lady Debbie who, by the way, also likes the song) to share the spotlight.
In fact, she pulled up the other day in her car and when she came in the house, she said, “I just heard Ivan on the radio singing “The Safety Dance!” Other songs on this album that I loved were “The Great Ones Remember”, “Things In My Life”, and “Antarctica”, which had hit written all over them in my musical book, but as Ivan discussed were kind of sidetracked by the huge popularity of “The Safety Dance”.
Fast forward 33 years….. Ivan is still making music, and has a strong presence on FaceBook, where we met. He is very approachable and has a great sense of humor… Just read some of his posts on his FB Page.
Not to stop there, Ringside Report readers, but you are about to find out that Ivan is a real diehard boxing fan. In fact, we can rightfully call him our “brother in boxing!”
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn’t put emphasis on something I discussed in my Q & A with Ivan, and that is the fact that I posted a video of his acoustic version of “The Safety Dance” at the end of our interview. Simply and bluntly said, “It knocked me on my musical ass when I heard it.” Although I loved the hit version, I love this one even more.
So without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen, in his own words, Ivan “King of the Cool Sunglasses” Doroschuck…..
BB: First off, it’s great to see you touring and bringing your feel good music back to the fans of old and the fans of new. What is the biggest difference touring today from the 80’s?
The hotel room keys are cards and don’t have the number on them, and I keep having to go down to the front desk to ask what room I’m in
BB: I have to commend you for a strong FaceBook presence with some hilarious posts about fatherhood and just today, you’re taking heat about your Beatles comment. Too funny! It’s quite obvious you love being a dad which you have my full respect from one father to another. What is your biggest amazement when you hear what your kids are listening to today?
How much it sounds like ’80s music, with synths and big drum sounds and everything.
BB: In doing research for this interview, I watched you doing a few interviews and never once, did you come across pompous or rude like many we see in the entertainment industry at times. What has kept you so grounded when others are not at times?
Age probably, or else I’m just lucky that you watched the right interviews and that YouTube didn’t exist back in the days.
BB: I have to tell you Ivan, I know The Safety Dance was the hit and rightfully so, but just as good and in my musically book, “I Got The Message”, “The Great Ones Remember”, “Things In My Life”, and “Antarctica” are all home runs too! What are you feelings on why these were not just as big? Also, can you give some insights behind each song?
“The Safety Dance” became so big so fast, it permanently overshadowed the rest of the album. Double-edged sword as they say.
“Antarctica” has a funny story to it, it was written originally as a ballad, and the night before we were to go into studio to record it, we were going thru it one last time and we accidentally set the drum machine at twice the speed. After racing thru it, we were laughing and just about to do it again at the proper tempo, when our manager very seriously and in no uncertain terms told us that that was how we should record it the next day. Happy accident.
“Things In My Life” was written for my first wife, we started dating on the November 14th mentioned in the lyrics (which has since become the official MWH day)
“I Got The Message” was written partly to showcase our French Canadian heritage, and partly to see if I could get away with singing “It’s long and hard” in a top 40 pop song
The title “The Great Ones Remember” was lifted from a line in a sci-fi short story I had read. Can’t remember what or who it was though.
BB: On your FaceBook page, I was blown away at a video shot at intimate club date you did in Boston. In the video, you did The Safety Dance (Acoustic) and if my eyes were closed, I swear you sounded like Cat Stevens, an artist I have always loved musically and respected as a human being. I have to be honest, though I loved the 80’s version, I think this acoustic one was even better. Have you ever thought of recording it that way or maybe doing it and some other tracks acoustically?
Thanks, always loved Cat Stevens myself. I’m actually working on an album of acoustic versions of MWH songs to be released next spring
BB: Who were your influences musically growing up?
My mother was a university music teacher, and we had a lot of classical music playing all the time around the house, but I would have to say that the Beatles influenced me the most as far as songwriting and song structure are concerned. I listened to stuff like Led Zep, Sabbath, Jethro Tull, Genesis and Pink Floyd as a teenager, then Roxy Music, David Bowie, Kraftwerk, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Disco, etc…
BB: So you love to dance or you at least sing about it to get others to do so. Who do you put on to dance to?
Barry White of course, doesn’t everybody?
BB: Chatting on FaceBook, I found out you are a fan of the sport of boxing….. How long have you followed the sport?
Quite a while. I grew up in Montréal which is a big boxing town (the Hilton brothers, Otis Grant, Arturo Gatti, Eric Lucas, Leonard Dorin, Joachim Alcine, Adonis Stevenson) and when I was attending the university I worked as a bartender in a hotel that held regular boxing events. I even trained at a gym for a few years back in the ’90s.
BB: Who are your three favorite fighters of all time and why?
Muhammad Ali – not only my favorite fighter but also my favorite human being of all time.
Mike Tyson – never saw anybody punch so hard.
Barry McGuigan – I used to love hearing his dad sing Danny Boy.
BB: What is the greatest fight you have ever seen and why?
I saw local bad boy Davey Hilton, JR. defeat Stéphane Ouellette in Montréal in 1998 to win the Canadian Middleweight Title after the referee stopped the fight at 2:42 of the 12th and final round. The predominantly French-Canadian crowd was stunned into silence as the English-Canadian underdog came out of nowhere in the final seconds to knock out their champion. Classic fight.
BB: What boxers do you follow today?
I have to admit I don’t follow boxing as religiously as I once did, I don’t even have cable anymore. I still pay attention to the big fights, but mostly out of curiosity. I swear, between Don King sucking the life out of the sport, and the MMA sucking everything else, I kind of lost interest in the fight game for a while, I’m just starting to get back into it these days
BB: Do you think Floyd Mayweather, JR. would have been competitive in the 70’s & 80’s against the top fighters in the weight classes he won titles in?
Floyd Mayweather, JR. is one of the most boring boxers I have ever seen. The fact that he has been so dominant also illustrates why I lost a bit of interest in the sport. I don’t think he would have been as competitive back then, when boxers were hungrier, purses were big, but not ridiculously so, and boxing was still a survival choice, not a career choice like it is today.
BB: If you could change one thing in boxing from the days when you first started watching it until today, what would that be?
Get rid of Don King, although he is a character, and we wouldn’t have stuff like I dated a chick who was so hairy, the first time I saw her naked I thought she had Don King in a leglock!
BB: Who is your favorite actor?
BB: Favorite movie?
Stalker (1979) by Andrei Tarkovsky
BB: Favorite Food?
Organic brown rice with Tempeh
BB: Favorite word?
BB: Least favorite word?
BB: What is one thing outside of the music, that you can share that readers may be surprised to know about you?
I did a year of Law school at the Université de Nice in the south of France.
BB: Finally, what is the saying you live your life by?
“If you go to a Chinese restaurant, you get Chinese food.”
(Interview conducted in 2015)
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