Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz. Photo by Michael Lavine.
The first time I saw Gogol Bordello live in 2007 was one of those embarrassing, made for YouTube, kind of nights. I woke up the next morning on my couch, tangled in my party dress, still wearing high heels, with blood caked to my bruised knees and a throbbing at my temples no Advil could fix. As my memory came creeping back, I remembered downing shots of whiskey with Dale Crover of the Melvins at the Henry Fonda Theater before Gogol took the stage. I remembered dancing as if possessed and stealing some dude's hat in the mosh pit. I remembered calling a cab… not being able to find my keys… breaking into my own house. It was an epic night and I had the battle wounds to prove it.
The musicians in Gogol Bordello are no strangers to whipping the crowd into a frenzy, even if it means a few party casualties. It's what frontman Eugene Hutz calls “striking the power” and the band does it each and every time they take the stage. While Gogol Bordello was en route to Los Angeles for this Saturday's Detour fest, Hutz phoned L.A. Weekly to share his thoughts on…
…Being called “the world's most perfect festival band” by Entertainment Weekly.
Eugene Hutz: That seems to be the word on the block. That's not a rumor. I think that's more like scientific fact. There's nothing surprising about it, really. In the states there are so little festivals so it seems that people like sensational and we come in and strike the power. For the past five years we've been striking the power five times a week in the festivals in Europe. We've definitely had a while to sharpen our teeth [laughs].
…The lost art of celebration.
Eugene Hutz: It's a strange point in evolution. People are obsessed with pseudo-luxuries, pseudo-comforts. Now that we have everything that we supposedly need, it's time to find out what is it exactly that we fucking need. What is it that we actually need? [Laughs] Our music is very hand made and it leads back into being a human entity. [Irony and cynicism] are syndromes that are predominant these days. Irony and cynicism were of a rebellious school of thought when [governments] were trying to convince everybody that everything was fine and dandy and plastic. That tone had a subversive power but now the mainstream is completely cynical and sordid and pessimistic, you know? [Laughs] I don't believe in pseudo-comfort and I don't even believe in actual comfort. I don't think anything worth while came out of the sense of comfort.
…Being cast as one of the leads in Madonna's directorial debut Filth and Wisdom.
Eugene Hutz: We managed to have a lot of fun in a very short time. Only three weeks, really. I don't know if I should say I play myself because there's a bit of a silly thing going on these days where if somebody has a mustache they must somehow be inspired by me or some bullshit like that. People need to get their average intelligence somehow on the next level. Just because somebody has an accent and mustache doesn't mean a fucking fuck. In this particular movie, yeah, it was a character based pretty much on me. But there's also tons of fictional abracadabra. A movie is a movie, right? It's a playful situation. It's not a radical movie. I think it's a pretty entertaining flick and I think it's quite obvious that people were having lots of fun when they were making it. Writing is my number one thing. I spend most of my time with pencil and paper. Then comes playing, then comes performance, then comes acting.
…Moving to Brazil where he currently lives.
Eugene Hutz: I moved to Rio and I always wanted to live in Brazil. I had a girl there, I had my friend Manu Chao who always told me it was a place I was going to love, so I applied for a Brazilian visa. Instead of the usual three month visa they gave me a five year visa, without me even asking. I took it as a mystical sign and it was done.
…Being a fan of Charles Bukowski.
Eugene Hutz: Once I discovered him about 10 years ago, I was pretty much always aware of his mastermind writing. It's writing without any fluff. He seemed to squeeze all the unnecessary extra words out of the page. I've spent a lot of time in L.A. and was fascinated by Bukowksi and Tom Waits precisely because they could see so much romance in such a seemingly unromantic environment. It is a great leap of romantic imagination just to pick up a piece of trash on the street, lift it up and say, “You know what? This is the best fucking thing I've ever seen in my fucking life.” I was always attracted to that kind of world-view.
Check out the Detour page for more information on how you can see Gogol Bordello perform on Saturday, October 4 in Los Angeles.
Passing time at work? Enjoy these Gogol Bordello music videos:
“Start Wearing Purple”
“Not a Crime”