Lead singer and songwriter Eugene Hütz founded the band in 1999 when he moved to New York after being forced to evacuate Ukraine following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Through stage theatrics, humor, and surreal costumes, Gogol Bordello tells the story of New York’s immigrant diaspora and are known for their incredible energy and passion. Though it is composed of several core members including Hütz, Pedro Erazo, Boris Pelekh, and Sergey Ryabtsev, the band is constantly rotating in new members, evolving with each release and download lagu tour.
Their newest album, Solidaritine, was produced by Lower East Side underground icon Walter Schreifels and released in September of 2022. The thirteen tracks advocate for solidarity and change amidst the chaos and difficulty of the past few years, and pose a poignant and raging response to the recent invasion of Ukraine.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Hütz over Zoom. While Solidaritine centered our conversation, we discussed Ukraine, the struggles of progress, band synergy, new projects, and much much more.
Hütz: It’s like a remedy for all the tumultuous things that have been happening in the last couple years. It’s literally like a survival kit for the insanities and atrocities of what the world has been going through. Life was so much lighter, lighthearted, before Trump, before the pandemic, before the war in Ukraine. You look at group pictures of people together just some several years before that and look at the group pictures of people now and you can just see the cloud of, you know…. It’s trying times.
So art oftentimes comes to the rescue and this album kind of was initiated and set in motion by the batch of songs that were kind of old, dancing around topics of how to keep your anchor, your inner core, your center, in the middle of all this disinformational havoc that was thrown onto people just like in spades. During Covid… I don’t want to mention those topics, those topics are completely old and forgotten for me. Because then when the war in Ukraine started it brought in a whole other quest for solidarity and connecting people of good will who were not going to be spectators, but who were going to participate and ensure a Ukrainian victory.
AllMusic: You’ve been doing this for so long and talking about so many different topics with your music, how do you feel your fanbase has changed in that time or stayed the same?
Hütz: It didn’t change. As an all-inclusive band, as a band that’s been championing all-inclusivity from the get go, we’ve just been expanding our audience in all those ways. And it continues to be so.
AllMusic: I know there’s been many different members coming through in the time that Gogol Bordello has been a thing, what is it like to work with so many different musicians all the time. Does it change the energy of the album? And what do you see as the throughline through all the changes?
Hütz: Well most bands consist of three or four people, and so does Gogol Bordello, we have core members, which are unchangeable. Gogol Bordello is like a band with core members that has on top of that our revolving door of players and performers who, when they come in, have the understanding that that’s the nature of the band. It’s kind of a musical rubik’s cube. We’re constantly putting it together and dismantling it and putting it together again. That’s why we’ve gone on the same tour twice. Nobody’s seen Gogol Bordello twice in the same way. They are people who are part of Gogol Bordello’s extended family. There’s never any kind of auditioning or anything like that. It’s usually someone who already knows Gogol Bordello’s songs for one reason or another, whether it’s somebody who’s already played with us or jammed with us, or a close friend of somebody who is in the band.