Gogol Bordello Band Members:
Eugene Hutz - vocals
Sergey Rjabtzev - violin
Yuri Lemeshev - accordion
Tommy Gobena - bass
Eliot Ferguson - drummer
Oren Kaplan - guitar
Pam Racine - percussion, dance
Elizabeth Sun - percussion, dance
Gogol Bordello has been breaking down musical barriers since 1999 with a supercharged music based on a brutal gypsy two step rhythm that sounds like an Eastern European cousin of ska, augmented by punk, metal, rap, flamenco, roots reggae, Italian spaghetti, Western twang, dub and other sounds generated by gypsies and rebels from across the globe. “Reggae and gypsy music were created by poor people with nothing to loose,” Hutz explains. “They had to find a new way to look at the world, so the theme of SUPER TARANTA! is New Rebel Intelligence - NRI – a concept born in the band. Looking at string theory, creationism, globalization, political cataclysms and the general chaos facing us makes you realize you have to find some way to survive.”
Gogol Bordello’s philosophy is simple and pragmatic. Music makes it possible to make the contradictions of life sound harmonious, at least for the duration of a song. Their trans-global rebel rock is based on the belief that music and art can transform negative energy to positive and inspire individual action.
Since dropping Gypsy Punks in 2005, Gogol Bordello has been circling the globe igniting the international community with their frenzied brand of anarchic mayhem. They’ve scorched venues all across the U. S.; headlined Festivals in Britain, where they topped the Rock, Metal and Indie charts and wowed fans in Berlin, Vienna, Warsaw, Kiev, Zagreb and Prague. Along the way they’ve discovered more styles of rebel music and incorporated them into their omnivorous sound.
Hutz is driven by an inexorable creative desire. In the past two years he’s starred in Liev Schreiber’s film Everything Is Illuminated and was the focal point of a documentary called the Pied Piper Of Hutzovina. The documentary follows Hutz to the Ukraine in 2006, filming him while he searched for the extended family he left behind when he fled Chernobyl in 1986. “It was a challenging experience. The film connects the dots, joining different aspects of Gypsy culture in Hungary, Ukraine, Russia and Siberia, from its manifestations in elite society, all the way down to the musicians and activists in the ghetto.”
Hutz came to the United States from the Ukraine after escaping the Chernobyl meltdown and enduring an epic seven-year trek through Eastern Europe refugee camps. “It’s an interesting story, but maybe not so interesting when it was happening. I was listening to BBC radio when the DJ said: ‘for the citizens of Ukraine: There was just a disaster in Chernobyl and it’s not likely your government will tell you about it.’ I was 13 or 14 and into punk rock and didn’t want to leave [Kiev,] but the evacuation turned into another discovery. We visited the village my family came from. My relatives introduced me to the essential foods and music of our gypsy culture. My parents hid [their gypsy roots] in the city; in the countryside I was face to face with it. My biggest musical influence was coming face to face with that ancient culture.”
The Hutz family settled in Vermont, but Eugene left for New York as soon as possible. In The City’s melting pot he found other refugees who shared his vision of an international punk rock sound. “Our gypsy fiddler, Sergey Rjabtzev, was a theater director in Moscow for 10 years. Yuri Lemeshev, our 53-year-old accordion player, is from Sakhalin in Russia. Guitarist Oren Kaplin is from Israel. The drummer is American Eliot Ferguson, the only sane person in the band.”
Hutz had a following from his DJ gig at Mehanata, where he cued up Gypsy, rai, flamenco and global underground sounds for exuberant crowds of artists, scene makers and local Ukrainians, Russians, Gypsies, and Bulgarians. Gogol took off immediately, with a high voltage show that demonstrated the extreme nature of gypsy music and those that sing and play it. “People after the show say: ‘I’m exhausted just watching the show, how do you do it, night after night?’ I say if you’re putting your soul into it, and pursuing your dream, it’s more than music and behavior. It’s a lifestyle; it’s a mission. It’s about pursuing the world for yourself; rejecting the fake convenience of the modern world. The economy wants to keep you happy with brand name shit, but people need to remember we’re all a bit supernatural. You just have do some work to get to it.”