When their tour passed through Leeds on Wednesday 5th July, we managed to sit down with Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz to chat about the band’s upcoming album release, finding time to check out great bands at festivals and as always, who would be the star of a movie about the band…
Hello Eugene! How’re you?
I’m good. We just did three shows in thirty five hours!
Wow! So you’re in the middle of a UK tour after coming straight over from Europe. How’s it been going, other than very hectic?
This is a nice final cut of the summer leg of the tour. It’s UK, France then Italy now so the food is going to be getting better and better now. The roughest part is behind us now after doing three shows in thirty five hours. We did Sweden at seven o’clock, Slovakia fifteen hours later and then straight over to Hyde Park in London!
How was the Hyde Park show? The line-up was great with yourselves, Green Day, The Hives, Rancid…
It was good. We’re all old friends. The bands know each very well. Much respect to Green Day who have the power to put a bill like this together, because the idea of playing together, Rancid and us, us and The Hives, Green Day, it’s been there forever but it takes ten years to come together in this one Woodstock like event. The Stranglers and The Damned were a nice touch too.
Do you get much chance to get out there and take it all in and check out the other bands on the bill at big events like that, because I know some bands do say that festival shows are a great idea but on the day the schedule is just too hectic to actually see anyone?
It can be both ways. It depends how you want to handle your life. Some people wake up in the morning and don’t know how to cross the fucking street, you know? In my personal case, if I’m set on checking something out, I will do and I’ll put everything else to one side. Most of the time there isn’t anything to see though, to be honest.
You’re on tour a lot playing so many different towns and cities around the world. You’ve been here in Leeds a few times, do you have any stand out memories of Leeds?
We’ve played Leeds Festival quite a few times, so that always stands out. The whole Leeds and Reading experience, you guys have got the leading place in the expression. It doesn’t matter that Reading gets all of the coverage, we are all about Leeds. We support the underdog!
Given the amount of places you play in the world, do you notice many cultural differences with the audiences, the atmosphere and the crowds react to you playing?
There are cultural differences. I hope this analogy works – everybody in this world drinks heavily. It’s a myth that Russians drink a lot or the Dutch drink a lot. Australians drink a lot, Brazilians drink a lot, everybody drinks! When they drink, they all behave slightly different. They’re all equally drunk, but it’s that kind of difference. So, in Eastern Europe they’re going to end up dancing on a table with no sense of rhythm. Eastern Europeans do not have any sense of rhythm. They have rhythm in Latin America or Africa, but in Eastern Europe they will have more melodic desperation and gospel like energy. It’s only different in those ways, the crowd can be more rowdy in the south of Italy than in Canada, but at the same time that’s the craziest that Canadians can be!
Your new album is coming out next month, and the information I’ve had on it so far seemed to imply that it’s going to be the broadest sounding Gogol Bordello album so far, really encapsulating everything the band has been about over your career. Was that a conscious effort, or did it just come about naturally?
I think it happened naturally. It’s accumulative, the feeling of creating of creating a new classic record that encapsulates the method of Gogol Bordello. The drastic difference here is that I got inspired to produce the record myself after working with so many great names. I didn’t know that I was in for such a laborious exhausting project that look all of my time. The reward is that it feels very complete and that it’s exactly how I want it to sound. It’s very accurate to who we are as a band. We’re able to create our own sound, the so called gypsy punk, but at the same time we’re creating uncharted territories and there’s a natural excitement in creating that.
The album took over two years to make. I suppose that if you write two songs, two years apart you could be in a very different place creatively, especially if there’s touring inbetween as well…
For sure. This might also be our last record. Not our last music release, but our last in the format of an album. This is a testament to how we understand and how we see and love the form of an album, but things are more and more so asking for a different kind of release of music. For example, instead of releasing an album, maybe something that comes out more rapidly but smaller, so three songs with a different producer so it’s an ongoing thing. It could be like that. Or the band could take different residences, I’ve always wanted to record in Napoli, of all fucking places. I don’t know why, there’s just something insane about that place. Then the next one could be in Buenos Aries. Something that’s less of a commitment than making an album.
Hollywood calls, they’re making Gogol Bordello: The Movie and you’re in charge of casting. Who gets the call for the role of you?
That’s a fun question! Maybe Nicole Kidman!
Finally, is there anything else you’d like to add?
Not really. Everything is in the album. I don’t have any last words because the words are never the last!