Music » Interviews

Bait and switch

The music industry looks to Eugene Hutz and Gogol Bordello as examples, not exceptions


Fueled by pyrohy, loved by Gucci: Hutz has his own secret - formula.
  • Fueled by pyrohy, loved by Gucci: Hutz has his own secret formula.
As leader of Gogol Bordello, the globe-trotting gypsy dub-punk troupe responsible for the most frenzied and positively possessing music on the planet, Eugene Hutz has made the whole world his pond.

Now, he's starting to resemble something of a big fish. He's got a starring role in Madonna's latest attempt at celluloid direction, Filth and Wisdom, following a brilliant performance in the 2005 film Everything is Illuminated. And Gogol's fourth stellar slab, Super Taranta!, is leading the charge for global rock 'n roll revolution.

Like a minnow to a mackerel, I caught up with Hutz, on the East Coast, via telephone.

Indy: I am so thankful to get a hold of you. Without sounding like a giddy schoolgirl, I am a much bigger fan than I am a journalist, so thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

Hutz: Yeah, of course, thanks ...

Indy: So how did you first get exposed to punk rock music, or American-slash-Western music?

Hutz: It was actually ... uh ... It was like already a part of [a] big progression because I grew up under a huge influence from my dad, who was one of the first rock musicians in Ukraine.

Indy: Meridian?

Hutz: Yeah, Meridian! I grew up with such a bonding with him about rock 'n roll, you know, listening to everything from The Doors, and Animals and whatever was around then. You know, Pink Floyd and most importantly, Jimi Hendrix. So, getting into punk rock was kind of like where I actually parted with him. That was like something that, uh I guess I went on to discover my own country with that already. And that was something I discovered through black-market records.

Indy: Yeah, I was curious about the availability of records in Ukraine ...

Hutz: No availability on the surface, and lots of availability once you know where to go!

Indy: Now you kind of make your home all over the world. Are there any favorite places?

Hutz: Yeah, it's true, and I guess I am not sure really what is the cause of that, but it seems to be a pattern ... I mean, I actually live in Rio de Janeiro now. I have been living in Brazil for the past half-year. And I will probably spend another year. There is just so much to explore and to enjoy, you know. I had a fantastic guide around, my hero, and now my friend, Manu Chao, showed me. He introduced me to lots of musicians down there, so ...

I just got back basically from Rio and Carnivale. What a place to write music fucking incredible. You don't even have to write it, you just write it down!

Indy: Beautiful! And you were just in Berlin [at the Berlin International Film Festival] as well?

Hutz: Yeah, I did quite a "dervish twirl," I'd say, flying from Brazil, to Berlin, and then to L.A., and back to the East Coast. There was a lot to do, yeah. Everything was good I mean, everything was fantastic and Berlin was fun too, you know. We all had a blast.

Indy: So, a little about me: I am half Ukrainian, and so I grew up eating a lot of borsch and pyrohy ...

Hutz: All right!

Indy: ... and when I heard you were Ukrainian I had already heard your music, and I just felt like a lost cousin or something ...

Hutz: All right, man!

Indy: So as you have kind of become a hero of mine, and as you've become so successful in the mainstream ...

Hutz: Which is a funny thing to say!

Indy: But you seem to maintain a pretty bulletproof credibility, so ...

Hutz: Well I guess, I mean ... nothing I ever did was intended for [the] mainstream ... As a matter of fact ... when we put out our first album, practically all labels that heard [it] were like, "Well, this is admirable and fantastic, but it's completely unmarketable."

Then [a] decade later, they're marketing every fucking band they can see in sight on the example of Gogol Bordello! You know, it's like, "Oh, it's kind of like Gogol Bordello!"

I guess the good news is that you can change mainstream. You know, without trying to join the forces with it. By perseverance, you can actually completely destroy some of the margins. And I think that is exactly what happened, and it helped many other musicians that may be on a similar wavelength to get more attention.

And I think it is a fucking great time to be a band, or an artist in general, because a lot of notions of how things ran in the music industry are kind of falling apart. You know, it's like all these Grammys and all this stuff it's like a queen in England, you know! Who gives [a] fuck?!

Indy: Well I've heard a lot of famous, but to me, kind of bullshit, people throwing your name around. I heard Gucci said you were his latest inspiration or whatnot ... does that bother you?

Hutz: It doesn't bother me, because the thing is, I have been doing what I'm doing for the longest amount ... for decades, you know. I have been in [the] fashion business. It's actually amazing that they are so essentially superficial that they even forgot that I was there already. I was inspiration for other designers like five, six, seven years ago ... And now it's like, here I come, they discovered me again! It's fucking amazing, that's some fucking attention span and dedication right there! But no, I mean, if something is inspiring, it's fucking inspiring. Gucci's got to eat too, you know!

Nothing that I did was conceived for that. It was conceived to be an inspiring work for people who don't come from any dynasty. Is that a word? Dynasty? For people who have nothing but their own self-drive and talent or yearning to be released ... release it! That's the affinity I feel for people, that's the affinity I feel.

Indy: Well, it radiates, it really does ... So, what's next? This is the last question, and I will get out of your hair ...

Hutz: Well, there are lots of things. They are always overlapping. I am working on a new project in Brazil with a Romanian singer and a dancer girl. We both live there. It's an electronic project. Yeah, it's uh ... it has no visible references now in the sound world. I don't know what to tell you about it. I am very excited about it. It definitely gets me going.

And I am also flirting with a movie. The business is very dangerous because you can end up with a child of your own, and I've been actually writing a script for my own film. That might be a year or two, or three, or maybe more before everything falls into place. I mean, we have quite a few tours coming up. But I have quite a few ideas for that!

Indy: Thank you so much. I appreciate it!

Hutz: Of course, man.

Gogol Bordello
Fillmore Auditorium, 1510 Clarkson St., Denver
Friday, March 7, 8 p.m.
Tickets: $22, 16-plus; visit

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