Gogol Bordello’s Eugene Hütz on Their New Album, Ukraine, and the Struggles of Progress


Gogol Bordello is a gypsy punk rock band from the Decrease East Aspect of Manhattan. Lead singer and songwriter Eugene Hütz based the band in 1999 when he moved to New York after being pressured to evacuate Ukraine following the Chernobyl catastrophe in 1986. By means of stage theatrics, humor, and surreal costumes, Gogol Bordello tells the story of New York’s immigrant diaspora and are recognized for his or her unbelievable vitality and fervour. Although it’s composed of a number of core members together with Hütz, Pedro Erazo, Boris Pelekh, and Sergey Ryabtsev, the band is consistently rotating in new members, evolving with every launch and tour.

Their latest album, Solidaritine, was produced by Decrease East Aspect underground icon Walter Schreifels and launched in September of 2022. The 13 tracks advocate for solidarity and alter amidst the chaos and problem of the previous few years, and pose a poignant and raging response to the latest invasion of Ukraine.

I lately had the chance to sit down down and speak with Hütz over Zoom. Whereas Solidaritine centered our dialog, we mentioned Ukraine, the struggles of progress, band synergy, new tasks, and far way more.

AllMusic: May you inform me a bit of bit about how this album got here to be?

Hütz: It is like a treatment for all of the tumultuous issues which were occurring within the final couple years. It is actually like a survival equipment for the insanities and atrocities of what the world has been going by. Life was a lot lighter, lighthearted, earlier than Trump, earlier than the pandemic, earlier than the warfare in Ukraine. You take a look at group photos of individuals collectively just a few a number of years earlier than that and take a look at the group photos of individuals now and you may simply see the cloud of, you recognize…. It is attempting instances.

So artwork oftentimes involves the rescue and this album form of was initiated and set in movement by the batch of songs that had been form of previous, dancing round matters of methods to hold your anchor, your interior core, your heart, in the midst of all this disinformational havoc that was thrown onto individuals similar to in spades. Throughout Covid… I do not wish to point out these matters, these matters are utterly previous and forgotten for me. As a result of then when the warfare in Ukraine began it introduced in an entire different quest for solidarity and connecting individuals of excellent will who weren’t going to be spectators, however who had been going to take part and guarantee a Ukrainian victory.

AllMusic: You have been doing this for therefore lengthy and speaking about so many alternative matters along with your music, how do you are feeling your fanbase has modified in that point or stayed the identical?

Hütz: It did not change. As an all-inclusive band, as a band that is been championing all-inclusivity from the get go, we have simply been increasing our viewers in all these methods. And it continues to be so.

AllMusic: I do know there’s been many alternative members coming by within the time that Gogol Bordello has been a factor, what’s it prefer to work with so many alternative musicians on a regular basis. Does it change the vitality of the album? And what do you see because the throughline by all of the adjustments?

Hütz: Nicely most bands include three or 4 individuals, and so does Gogol Bordello, now we have core members, that are unchangeable. Gogol Bordello is sort of a band with core members that has on prime of that our revolving door of gamers and performers who, after they are available in, have the understanding that that is the character of the band. It is form of a musical rubik’s dice. We’re continually placing it collectively and dismantling it and placing it collectively once more. That is why we have gone on the identical tour twice. No one’s seen Gogol Bordello twice in the identical means. They’re people who find themselves a part of Gogol Bordello’s prolonged household. There’s by no means any form of auditioning or something like that. It is often somebody who already is aware of Gogol Bordello’s songs for one motive or one other, whether or not it is anyone who’s already performed with us or jammed with us, or a detailed buddy of anyone who’s within the band.

The prolonged “familia” of Gogol Bordello is huge in that means and everybody who joins us brings their distinctive synergy, brings their distinctive influence. I imply you’ll be able to hear it from album to album, you’ll be able to hear just like the core of the band, and you may hear some new blood about it, on each document. They’re all truly fairly drastically totally different. Individuals who do not see that, they are not seeing Gogol Bordello. It is truly drastically totally different from one to a different. And that means of the band is form of the important thing to its longevity. That means the core members are all the time enthusiastic about new synergy that the brand new gamers would possibly usher in. And it form of evens out to being prefer it’s all the time that factor, nevertheless it’s all the time a brand new model of that factor, which is precisely how we prefer it.

AllMusic: It makes for actually very thrilling music. I used to be going means again to your first album Voi-La Intruder, and there is truly a whole lot of accordion on that. And that is gone on this album, there’s way more fiddle on this one. So simply watching the change in instrumentation is actually thrilling and interesting.

Hütz: Precisely. Thanks, it was by no means a plan, per se, to maintain that variation going, however it’s the way it’s going and that is kinda how we prefer it. And people who find themselves appreciators of Gogol Bordello and so they’ve been with us since… I feel they develop the identical style for Gogol Bordello. There is a sure solidity to it and the band has a whole lot of reliability, a dependable consistency high quality in so far as vitality and hyper-manic efficiency. I generally see on-line individuals arguing about how that album kicks that album’s ass or vice versa, however I welcome that too [laughs]. Issues must be like this.

AllMusic: Do you are feeling like, when Covid was occurring, had been you disconnected from that fanbase and the connection you may have with them?

Hütz: No. Throughout Covid, we truly had an extremely prolific time. It allowed for collaborations that had been form of unimaginable to do due to being so go-go-go and busy in earlier years so we bought a whole lot of music performed. We collaborated with a few of our favourite musicians who had been all the time too busy to do that and launched some music. Bringing Walter Schreifels in as producer to the album was additionally allowed as a result of we had been all simply kind of chilling in NYC and we began speaking about it. “Hey, pay attention, let’s make a document collectively.” Walter is a renaissance man in his personal proper, so no I truly assume it allowed us to attach, it allowed extra for connection that was often hindered by going, going, going.

AllMusic: Do you assume that if you had been capable of carry out as soon as once more, you discovered a better appreciation for the stage?

Hütz: Positively. I used to be by no means not appreciating it, however I even discovered a better appreciation for all these duties on tour that individuals develop to hate [laughs]. A few of these parts of tour hustle, I simply welcome them with an open coronary heart. Similar to, properly if I will have some stress that is one of the best stress to have proper there, that is the form of stress I would like [laughs].

AllMusic: Earlier you stated “hyper-manic efficiency.” Do you are feeling like that actually comes from the band members or does it moreover should be fueled by the gang?

Hütz: It is who we’re. I imply viewers is as necessary as… [pauses] Viewers is the wooden, we are the fireplace. The band ignites the viewers. And if the band would not ignite the viewers, the viewers… it is not going to occur [laughs]. There’s simply going to be plenty of smoke and murky waters. It is who we’re. I imply individuals in Gogol Bordello, all of the core members are infamous for having vitality that exceeds the same old requirements. Proper now we’re on tour and everyone’s as busy because it will get. I am producing younger bands in New York Metropolis and Pedro [Erazo] is out in Mexico on a DJ tour.

Final week we did three performances within the metropolis together with Carnegie Corridor with an incredible lineup of New Order and boygenius and Laurie Anderson, simply thoughts blowing performances, thoughts blowing lineup. And two days later we had an evening with symphonic reinforcement for the Grammy Museum with a dialog moderated with my pricey buddy Jim Jarmusch. My favourite movie director who has been my buddy additionally for [pauses] because the early days of Gogol Bordello, and it was wonderful to have him… to have a dialog with him about Gogol Bordello’s trajectory and his movies on the identical time and Gypsy music and mutual associates, like Iggy Pop and [famed tattoo artist] Jonathan Shaw. It was an incredible night. And a day later I known as Pedro about getting collectively to do some beats and he was like “yo man I am in Mexico I will be again on the twentieth.” [laughs] So that is the vibe. It is like an ongoing Hitzville.

AllMusic: For this album, had been there just a few influences you had been targeted on or actually impressed by?

Hütz: I feel this album truly was extra about stripping away from influences. Affect is one thing [pauses]. I imply the phrase influences implies one thing like, that is the flavour. This was extra like digging into the essence. And the essence of Gogol Bordello is punk, publish punk, hardcore… that is the form of the musical aesthetic that was basic for the band and it stays to be. In fact the band outgrew the punk smaller scenes of the place it got here from, outgrew way back, however we really feel dwelling additionally there, once we return there. That is the place our associates are, that is the place… a music that was basic for form of, music like punk and hardcore was, I’d think about to be greater than affect.

I’d think about it to be one thing that made a lot of an influence that it changed into essence as a result of that is like, you recognize, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, that is the place your essence form of will get distilled. This was like stripping away again to a terrific track. It is all about nice songs, in my private philosophy. Any track must be nonetheless a terrific track if you happen to do it simply stripped down on guitar by the campfire. Form of a corny analogy [laughs], nevertheless it works. So if it has that high quality after which the immediacy and the vitality… Does the band reply to this track in a direct, synergetic means? And so that you hear that within the songs. Every part you hear within the album is the third, fourth, or, most, fifth take of the track that the band ever carried out collectively.

Partly, that ease comes from form of figuring out what we’re doing in our personal musical playground of gypsy-punk-rock which is like fairly summary phrases for a reasonably wide selection [laughs]. However we form of know what we’re doing in our personal playground so we put issues collectively fairly quick, and it needs to be a terrific track instantly. Can the entire band leap into that track and convey of their components, convey of their unforgettable touches? And when it’s so, that’s what you are listening to. And the songs that do not tackle these wings [motions as if throwing something behind him]. They return into the cooker, or they find yourself being elsewhere…. Some solo document or one thing like that.

AllMusic: Was there a whole lot of improvisation? Did you, and probably different core members, come to the band with …. Like I noticed your acoustic model of “Focus Coin” [played solo for I Know We Should video crew at Bar Freda in Ridgewood, Queens] Did you attempt to include a foundation [like that] after which construct up from there and have the band add their touches, or was it a extra holistic course of?

Hütz: Nicely, since I used to be 14 or 15, I used to be beginning out initially as a drummer, however I rapidly switched to singing and writing for the bands since I used to be nonetheless within the punk scene in Ukraine. And I grew to become the lead singer. I needed to play drums [laughs], however in some way I ended up in entrance of the band, and fairly rapidly, like inside one yr. So, I form of felt like I may write songs all day, which is what I do all day [laughs] in numerous shapes and kinds. Whether or not I am strolling down the road or on a flight someplace or out in Brazil someplace or in Ukraine on a navy base, supporting the troops. That is all the time going, and I’ve accepted that that is my path of life.

It appeared like no one was questioning that both, the musicians that I used to be with, they had been fortunately supporting that concept [laughs]. That Eugene was going to put in writing songs and we’ll play them. So I convey within the track whereas it is already fairly tangibly prepared. After which that is when the band magic begins. That is when Sergey and Pedro and Boris and the elemental components begin rising. A few of these components I are available in with preconceived. Like “Okay that is the principle riff so let’s get that to you within the track” however a few of it transforms to a point. However that is why I say it has each issues. I convey the lyrics and basic construction of the track and when the band chimes in it turns into that factor that takes it to the subsequent stage, the band takes it to the subsequent stage. It turns into what you hear as Gogol Bordello. Blazing, scorching, crisping [laughs] and scorching and all that.

AllMusic: You talked about writing on a navy base. What’s that like for you? To go to and assist by your music?

Hütz: Oh I felt, when the warfare began, just like the significance of a cultural entrance and the assist from nice artists that we be part of forces with, like Patti Smith and Primus and Ministry. And it was essential. And I am [just] naming bands right here, however bands in Ukraine are an entire different story and extra. Individuals from Ukraine: Serhiy Zhadan, nice ukrainian punk rocker and a novelist and a poet, after which there’s kind of a synth pop band known as Kazka. They’re truly featured on the album, (the singer, she’s on it). In order that was clear that our work was very essential proper now. It is like music with goal, however I felt like there’s maybe one thing extra we are able to do than simply fundraising and cultural work.

I all the time felt like that is one thing extra that we are able to do, and that notion was glad once we bought there and had been taking part in for the troops that had been simply hard-fighting, badass motherfuckers. And I felt that maybe the very best praise to obtain can be one thing that we heard there; when the band from the navy stated “Hey, you guys, after the present, do you assume we are able to hold taking part in your songs, and put them in our repertoire? As a result of we’ll hold touring the Ukraine and supporting the defendants, and other people… this actually boosts the temper and morale and the spirit.”

Truly 5 specific songs, “My Companjera,” “Forces of Victory,” “Pala Tute,” “Out of the blue,” and “Teroborona” had been written particularly for/in assist of Territorial Protection Models that had been shaped from civilians to battle, to defend to start with of warfare. So you are feeling me? That is one thing so transferring to listen to from people who find themselves there who do not have the choice of getting bored with listening to concerning the warfare. It is like they’re there to win it as a result of that is their solely choice, as a result of that is our roots, and it is a actually deep factor to listen to when individuals say, “Hey we want that. That is not leisure. That is one thing means past that.” So to be making artwork like that definitely feels … to be making artwork that has that form of influence is unquestionably a repay, and gratifying, extremely gratifying to us as a band, and me as a author.

AllMusic: Along with that I feel, particularly right here within the States, your music is doing a whole lot of work to wake individuals up a bit of bit extra to what’s occurring in Ukraine. So in so some ways, yeah, it feels such as you’re doing such necessary work along with your music that, such as you stated, goes properly past the leisure stage.

Hütz: Thanks. I imply I feel a whole lot of music is meant truly to be that and I feel a whole lot of artists purpose to do this, however I feel in instances like this the place individuals both actually actually latch on to sure music as their rescue floating system, or they do not. I feel these are the instances the place it form of Stands out, you’ll be able to inform what’s made with what intention.

AllMusic: Positively. For instance, like “Take Solely What You Can Carry” was one in all my favorites from the album. Have been you impressed by a few of your personal experiences being a refugee or was it along with all of the refugees who’re pressured to flee Ukraine proper now?

Hütz: I am truly glad that you just introduced that track up as a result of that is precisely that synergetic collab of three Ukrainian, 4 Ukrainian, artist entities. It is Gogol Bordello, it is Future’s Serhiy Zhadan, the one who I discussed to you earlier, punk rocker, novelist, and poet, who’s truly in New York proper now for 2 weeks. We’re doing a theater manufacturing collectively about [the] Ukrainian Jazz scene within the 20s which was eradicated by you-know-who, as soon as once more, the Moscovite dictatorship. And he as a poet, as an individual who’s from East Ukraine the place a lot of the– the place all of the warfare has taken place, he wrote a poem about being uprooted. [He says the poem’s name in Ukrainian which I unfortunately can’t find untranslated] may be very tight wordsmith work right here in our native tongue. “Take Solely What You Can Carry” is the interpretation. It is a bit of extra, sounds a bit of bit extra pragmatic, as a result of American English is a really pragmatic language [laughs].

The poem was translated into English to change into this track, to change into the lyric of Gogol Bordello. Then we featured Sasha [Oleksandra “Sasha” Zaritska] from Kazka on it, who simply flew in from Ukraine at the moment (additionally utterly shocked from the warfare) to do fundraising work right here. And the video was shot by all Ukrainian individuals…DP [director of photography], cinematographer, and all of the volunteers who participated on the video. It was an all Ukrainian effort, so it was truly fairly wonderful.

And it was all put collectively in at some point. In the future on the bridge in New York to movie and recorded additionally in at some point, in an all Ukrainian studio, Atlantic Studios in Brooklyn. So now I am counting 5, 6, and seven, and eight, 9 and extra Ukrainian entities and companies who chimed in in making that. And I simply needed to say how extremely highly effective that poem of Zhadan’s is. As a result of it’s actually the one time after I wrote a track—out of lots of of songs I’ve written—that is the one time after I’ve felt that that is an already made lyric for Gogol Bordello. Let’s translate it, let’s soak collectively on this collaboration that is an actual collaboration. And people are actually, actually highly effective, alarming lyrics and it turned out… made for a very actually highly effective alarming, from expertise, track. And naturally I do have expertise of being uprooted. So it was form of deeply entangled, and that cluster of entanglement is what you are listening to.

AllMusic: I feel that undoubtedly exhibits, I imply it’s simply such a transferring and highly effective track, like every thing you stated. And that is actually attention-grabbing that that is the one track you have ever performed that with. I imply I feel it goes to indicate how highly effective your personal phrases are. I known as that one out particularly, however I discovered myself fairly impressed by the entire songs on the album.

Hütz: Thanks, thanks.

AllMusic: May you speak a bit of bit concerning the funds for Ukraine that you just’re making from this album and the place they are going?

Hütz: Nicely, I imply fundraising would not actually cease in a single form of avenue. There’s huge and small issues we do on a regular basis. It isn’t like… some individuals are capable of do one sure challenge and so they say, “Okay, we bought 70,000 individuals, raised 30,000 {dollars} for humanitarian help for Ukraine” as a result of that they had one challenge. In our case, there are such a lot of huge and small issues which can be occurring, we might have to rent an entire group to handle these affairs. And that is not likely what we do. The very first profit we did for Ukraine, like a yr in the past, we gathered 1 / 4 million {dollars} then, so it is like that was a yr in the past that was the start. Right here, even once we’re off tour, new issues come up proper right here within the neighborhood. A brand new group that we attempt to assist lots is Sort Deeds which brings wounded troopers from Ukraine and helps them to achieve mobility right here with prosthetics. It is a actually, actually wonderful challenge.

We meet these guys who got here from the battlefield primarily with lacking arms and lacking legs and go meet them and do fundraisers for them. I imply simply final week we did two. Some issues occur with out even Gogol Bordello being there, like organizing it with youthful bands. I will go and DJ, do an acoustic track, or arrange the occasion. Simply final week by efforts with a number of younger artists, like people who find themselves actually taking part in their first gigs within the metropolis, we raised like 7,000 {dollars} proper right here in a small membership. So it is form of like an ongoing factor, and I’d say that the album will not be actually a centerpiece of it. It is similar to one of many issues that helps alongside.

Plus all of the collaborations which can be going. I am tremendous excited to say that I simply completed a monitor with Ministry for his or her new album that’s in assist of Ukraine, and I’ve one other collaboration I am mixing proper now. It is within the remaining levels, and that has members of Inexperienced Day and Fugazi and Agnostic Entrance and the one and solely Jello Biafra [laughs]. And members of Ministry, you are feeling me? Like that is going to be an enormous assist for Ukraine, producing that, so I already forgot the place that begins. I imply I bear in mind the place it begins, nevertheless it’s like [laughs and throws his hands up at the enormity of it all].

AllMusic: It feels to me that you just wrote an album about solidarity and that is…. Your work behind the scenes, in a time the place every thing appears to be breaking up, you are doing a lot to convey everybody collectively.

Hütz: Thanks for seeing this. Yeah, as a result of at instances you simply really feel such as you’re simply form of misplaced within the dynamic of the progress and never essentially listening to any suggestions. Truly, it may be for lengthy stretches of time. I imply being caught within the moments of progress form of a whole lot of instances looks like dwelling in obscurity.

AllMusic: Particularly with the difficulty being eight, 9 years lengthy. And never lots of people paying consideration over right here till very lately, I perceive how that may be extraordinarily discouraging.

Hütz: Yeah, I am glad you are conscious of that as a result of that is form of just like the…. It looks like most individuals came upon about this case like one yr in the past after which they carry on saying issues like, “However why is that this warfare getting a lot extra consideration than all these different wars?” And the reply to that’s all these wars have to be getting consideration for their very own tragedies that aren’t handled. However the clarification to why this supposedly sudden warfare is getting extra daylight consideration is to know, when you take a look at the size it took on; the madness of this full scale warfare and invasion is a direct results of individuals ignoring it for therefore a few years. That is why you are listening to about it now. As a result of if you’re not paying consideration, not listening to about it for eight years straight, whereas it was blazing away, as a result of it was festering for therefore lengthy. They usually had been letting terrorists get away with terror. Now it’s formally acknowledged that Russia is a terrorist state, everyone is listening to it, nevertheless it’s prefer it’s been like that for hundreds of years.

AllMusic: Hopefully we’re transferring in the direction of progress, however I get what you imply about if you’re in the midst of that progress, you do not see it so typically or it is tougher to see.

Hütz: Yeah, however on the identical time, large respect to everyone who does come out in assist. Pink Floyd, people who find themselves trusted voices. Patti Smith, Pink Floyd, their phrases had been very a lot instrumental right here in getting individuals to pay attention about it, and listen to about it and convey some readability to the people who find themselves malinformed, however belief these voices as a result of these names have some critical avenue cred.

AllMusic: And within the artwork world, I feel simply utilizing your platform to do as a lot good as you’ll be able to is essential which is once more a part of why your story is so inspiring.

Hütz: Thanks lots. Thanks.

AllMusic: You have talked about all these tasks you have been engaged on. What ought to we be looking for?

Hütz: I am beginning to produce younger bands in NY city. It is one other factor that I get very enthusiastic about, getting our first EP of my first producing work. The band is known as Puzzled Panther. It is two women from New York Metropolis and so they’re publish punk, form of like Siouxie and the Banshees, however extra punky. Brian Chase, the drummer from Yeah Yeah Yeahs and we’re taking part in on that document and serving to it to launch. However that is form of like what I am actually actually busy this month with is getting this launch out, so search for that!


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