Interview: Gogol Bordello

Written by Daniel Rourke

Gogol Bordello are one of the few bands within the ever expanding punk scene which are hard to put a label on. Often referred to as Gypsy punks, the enigmatic band recently released their first studio album since 2013, 'Seekers and Finders.' We caught up with frontman Eugene Hütz to discuss the album, touring and much more.

Burn After Writing: You’ve recently finished up a UK tour and are now touring Europe. How’s it going?

Eugene Hütz: It’s been going fantastic, man, it’s been five weeks of pure turbo.

BW: And during the UK run you were playing alongside Dave Hause – formally of Paint It Black, The Loved Ones and a million other punk bands – how did you find it touring with him?

EH: It was great, they were a great band to tour with. I think it’s great for people to have a night of music like that, you know, everything is kind of complimentary.

BW: Of course, the tour is leading up to the release of your new album 'Seekers and Finders', what can we expect from the album?

EH: Erm, well they can expect that it’s not a dubstep version of Jesus Christ Superstar, you can rule that out. It’s a very magical album for us, especially for me, I produced it.

We took our time to sculpt it and to get it exactly the way we need it be. I’m really excited for it come out, you know, it’s an old school and a new school album.

Every time we write an album we create a new world, so I took my time, went to uncharted territories with the band and just let my soul rage, I then had to capture that rage and make it presentable.

BW: We caught your show in Leeds and you could see that rage and passion in the new songs you played…

EH: Yeah, I don’t think rage is ever going to leave the bones and veins of the people in this band.

BW: As we mentioned earlier, you’ve been touring for several weeks now, and during ones of those weeks you played three shows in the space of a day. How did that come about and how did you feel about it?

EH: For a normal person it would be a near death experience, but I’ve had a lot of practice of doing that. It was in the space of thirty hours, so a day-and-a-half. We started in Sweden then we took a chartered flight to Slovakia after headlining the festival in Sweden, we then played a festival in Slovakia and then headed to London to play Hyde Park. [Laughs].

By the time we go off the stage in Hyde Park we realised we had played three fucking shows in Sweden, Slovakia, and London in thirty-five fucking hours. You start to think: ‘Wow, I’ve got to get horizontal now,” but then we go partying with Rancid and the Green Day guys until the cows come home. If that ain’t rock ‘n’ roll then I don’t know what fucking is.

I think Hyde Park was great, to polish something like that off, the atmosphere backstage was quite like Woodstock; you had The Stranglers – who I love – The Damned, Rancid – It was nice to reconnect with Tim Armstrong – The Hives, and Green Day. We’ve met them all over the years, it was great to finally have everyone sharing a stage for this one time. It was like Woodstock for us.

BAW: How did you prepare for that run of shows, did you do anything different or was it just about keeping yourself fit both physically and mentally?

EH: There’s no real way to do it. It’s debatable whether we’re keeping ourselves both physically and mentally fit. We are together enough, but the best recipe I have discovered is sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, meditation and yoga, in no particular order. [Laughs].

BAW: You also study martial arts?

EH: I wouldn’t consider myself an expert of any kind, but it’s certainly been a part of my life since I was a teenager.

BAW: How did you get into it all?

EH: It was very simple. I was born and raised in Ukraine, and all these foreign things happened at once. I had aikido, punk rock, Sigmund Freud, and Carl Young all appear on my horizon on the same fucking day. [Laughs].

Up until I was thirteen I was in this bubble where my only other influx of soul vitamins was through my father, he introduced me to rock ‘n’ roll music. Then I discovered my own music, which was punk rock, my own literature, art, my own psychology. Martial arts became part of those things, I was meeting new people through the punk rock scene who were into all these sorts of things, they were all different characters who were all experts in different fields.

I met people who were into wushu, karate, aikido, and all these sorts of things. They all hung out with us, sometimes we would exercise with them and sometimes they would come and see our shows.

Later on, when I lived in Brazil, I had a sensei who I was very excited about. I was practicing martial chi kung for several years, and it’s now part of who I am.

BAW: Finally, you recently announced another UK tour with Lucky Chops. What does the future hold for the band, is it all about touring the upcoming album and bringing it to as many people possible?

EH: That never was the plan, that’s like a plan you would ask from an accountant or something. Our plan is to make the highest quality art, our plan is to teleport ourselves out of this fucking world via art, and everybody who can hold the tail-ends of that is welcome on this magic carpet ride. That’s more like our fucking plan. [Laughs].

The reason why music is created is to transport into another world or temporarily turn this world into something much more high frequency. Everything else around it is just a byproduct.