Eugene Hütz isn’t your average frontman. Gogol Bordello isn’t your normal band. Gypsy punk rock that you can dance to isn’t your cup of tea. Here’s the thing—sure as hell that a band that has been around for nearly 20 years, seen more crowds than the pope, and does it all unapologetically, isn’t going to be traditional. So what has kept them around? Being one of the most colossal bands in the world, Eugene reveals in the recent interview with The Aquarian Weekly, why.
Alongside Elizabeth Sun, Thomas “Tommy T” Gobena, Pedro Erazo, Sergey Ryabtsev, Pasha Newmer, Boris Pelekh, and Fredo Ortiz, Gogol Bordello plays to provoke every person that will lay an eye or an ear to the music. They’ve got some new music underway, and a couple shows lined up in New York City for New Year’s Eve. If you’ve ever been to a show, you probably didn’t leave the same. You might have heard their music in the film, Wristcutters: A Love Story, where their singles like “Through The Roof ‘N’ Underground” and “Occurrence On The Border” were featured. Or you’ve probably also just heard about this insane gypsy, cabaret influenced group that travels the world from time to time. A little insight to the chaos starts with a ring:
It’s been 10 years since Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike. While on the anniversary tour, did it feel like a lifetime or just yesterday, since the album was released?
Well, both. Time has absolutely no linear. You go through feelings of extreme retrospective and immediacy of it… at [the] same time, you know? Also, it’s mostly rejuvenation because, accumulating [this] body of work in life tends to push you toward your feelings and philosophies very seriously. And so, when you’re just close to that, your anniversary comes to demolish that. Look at original power humor and what stands the test of time… the power and spirit, humor of it. [It’s] the original gel and glue of Gogol Bordello, which is spirited creativity.
Awesome, yeah so… I remember I saw you in New Jersey like four years ago. I remember after the opening band, when you came on. The ENTIRE crowd instantly started dancing. It became like a free-for-all, free-spirited show. I don’t know how you call it, but people of all ages were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. At that point, I knew that you were one of a kind. What’s a fond memory of these tours and travels?
Well, first of all—you’re absolutely right. It’s an all-inclusive celebration and it’s because the people of the band are all-inclusive. It starts with that. You know, that is what creates it—the band and the personalities. [The band] comes from five continents. It’s projected out into the audience, and mirrored by the audience, completely. It’s full-on socialism in action, which is one of the biggest sources of the band’s longevity. We are surrounded by a bubble of people who really love us, and that doesn’t get old.
Many things do. But that doesn’t.
The love is still very much real and alive.
Tour is such a shortened word. It will drag you down, through the mud. [It has] the ability to put you through the shredder. We received so much. It’s hard to explain, but there is a certain method to it. It is still going to transform all that into a joy of going through it together, you know? And of course, there is just actual joyous experiences of it. [It has] nothing to do with shows—the highlights of it aren’t necessarily anything that looks glamorous. The most joyous things are meant to be something like a group of people in Barcelona, or Buenos Aires, or here in the States, or wherever it might be… stumbling backstage with homemade fiesta and food that they prepared for the band. [Like] getting invited somewhere that people want to mirror back the celebration. And those are the most memorable things. People really want to give back something to the band.
Sounds very fulfilling.
Yeah, I remember playing with one of my favorite artists, a DJ from Mexico, and having experiences with their familiar posse. I never experienced anything like this. We happened to go and after the show… haha (laughs).
So, are you still in Buenos Aires? You’re everywhere, right?
I’m not everywhere. That is a myth. And I don’t know if it is a comfortable myth. I’m not everywhere. My bubble expands, then it shrinks—that’s how I expand my global muscle. But, my private time is spent in Rio, Brazil. I love that place. Rio has been working for me for a long time. And New York City, the duo.
You’re going to be here soon.
I’m already here!
Oh! Welcome. The weather hasn’t been cold, you’re lucky. So, Pura Vida Conspiracy. I feel you have so much beautiful imagery, in general. But would you agree that your songs are more like poetry? Do you see the band as poetic?
Well… (laughs). Those are just words, literary terms… poetic… documentary. Just words. [They are] terms for attempting to describe what is. It’s an accumulation of all those things. I don’t try to make it more poetic, or less poetic. I don’t try to make it more documentary, or less documentary. Or, less beatnik. It’s a myth.
Spoken like a true poet. Just kidding…
It’s just a fucking mess (laughs). And that’s how I like it. It hardly ever seems finished to me, and I made peace with that. Even though Gogol Bordello [has been] doing Gypsy Punks: [Underdog World Strike] for 10 years, I still feel like I am finishing it. Like I’m making it how it’s supposed to be. At the same time, the whole fanbase has been chanting this for 10 years straight.
I’m looking forward to what’s going to happen in the future. Now, you’re going to be traveling a bit. When are you releasing new music?
New music is already recorded. There’s more than just music. We are going to the studio on Monday to finish the new album. We’re going to a studio that was ran by Adam (RIP) from Beastie Boys, and that will complete our album. It’s a very exciting place… we pick places carefully. [It] has to have historical affinity with the band. So, we recorded. Anyway, I can’t go into details but, the first side was recorded in D.C., and the second side is here in New York City.
New York is our stomping ground… where the band was formed, welcomed. New York City is such a magnificent lab, workshop, or whatever you want to call it… for the kind of creativity that has not been displayed yet, you know? It became our home, so important.
Like your shows, free-for-all expressions.
It has that ability, for sure. I can’t think of any other place that does that.
It was so refreshing to talk to you, super down-to-earth. Thank you. Can we squeeze in one more question?
I am? (Laughs) I’ll take it. Yes, one more.
References label the band coming from Vermont of New York City. Can you shine on the origins of the band?
Well, the band was certainly formed in New York City. I came with a bunch of songs… autobiographical experiences, and partly nonsense. But I think the roots of the band run into all the continents and this what describes it… leaks through every member of the band. [Even members] that were in it for a duration of time, [they] still have a massive impact on Gogol Bordello. It’s just the way things go. People have chemistry… fertile things. Every person brought in full-on cultural parcel into the band. They brought the newness and nowness, but also brought in the historical, cultural basket. And we are all just set up of all those things, and it continues to work that way. The style is very established, but at the same time—every song finds its own life… through fingers of everyone.
Gogol Bordello will be performing at Terminal 5 on December 30 and December 31. For tickets and more information, visit gogolbordello.com.