By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
How do you reconcile this philosophy with your own popularity?
Very easily. I am more opposing the sleazy, schmoozing, bitch-ass glamour, celebrity-wannabe crap. We are what we were since day one. Recognition doesn’t alter our trajectory. It’s been an act of conversion to draw in other people. We are the kind of entertainers that create things that bewilder spectators’ minds. What you are observing with Gogol Bordello is a result of accumulation, consistency, longevity.
Doesn’t working in other mediums distract from this mission? You were a scene stealer in 2005’s film adaptation of the novelEverything Is Illuminated?; last year there was a documentary about you calledThe Pied Piper of Hützovina?; and you just finished acting in a new movie Madonna directed calledFilth & Wisdom?.
Acting is perfect for me, because all of my projects are driven by my philosophy, that I don’t want to have the break between life and stage, person and persona. When I was younger, I read about Sufism and it was all about eradicating the dichotomy of the things you do. Sufism was all about unity of self. I didn’t construct a character that is opposite of what I was in life. People always said to me, music is so competitive, didn’t you have any backup plan? And I didn’t, because it’s against this philosophy. Backup plan is what capitalism teaches, it’s what pragmatism teaches. It means diffusion of your passion, diffusion of your power into several channels, which inevitably leads to a much weaker person. I don’t believe in any backup plan, and that’s kind of medieval but I like it. When people see me onstage, they think I’m insane, but it comes from Sufi philosophy. Music is just my personality getting louder.
That’s a good way of putting it. Music will get louder, and I’ll get louder. It’s a super-exciting time. National Geographic wants me to host their music program! That’s a serious organization that can get behind some badass interesting projects, like send me to Siberia, or send me to Africa, or send me into the Voyager to look for underground music in another galaxy.
Do you really feel there’s lots of new music to discover?
Look at baile funk [a new down-and-dirty Brazilian dance-music style—ed.]. There was no baile funk 10 years ago! Well, there was. It’s basically Miami bass, 2 Live Crew taken to the Brazilian ghetto. But things like that mutate and become their own entity. Most people latch on to stupid formulas floating on the surface and expect it to be successful. Cultural innovators just go completely apeshit to make something interesting. You can tell when it’s done right, because there is this Little Richard note. Let’s take white music and black music and make rock out of it. It’s always Little Richard madness, this complete aloofness to if people dig it or not, this complete bonkersness, this abundance of joy.
Gogol Bordello appear at the Henry Fonda Theater on Tues., Aug. 28. They perform on theJimmy Kimmel Live! show on Tues., Sept. 4.