On Tuesday, Bristol saw the return of the legendary gypsy, punk revolutionists Gogol Bordello at The O2 Academy, with support from Dave Hause & The Mermaid.
After an incredible warm up set from Dave Hause, fans began to stomp their feet and chant ‘Gogol, Gogol’ as time edged nearer for the bands big entrance. Before you knew it, the back drop lifted revealing the words ‘Gogol Bordello’ in big letters as lead singer Eugene Hutz and his troops took to the stage and began to play.
Kicking off with classics like Not A Crime and Wonderlust King, the high-energy from the band quickly over-flowed into the crowd, shifting the venue into organised chaos both on and off stage. The band also showcased their latest single Saboteur Blues, along with a taste of tracks like Love Gangsters, taken from their seventh upcoming album ‘Seekers and Finders’.
Coats were thrown up in the air by members of the audience in time to the foot stomping beat, with even a couple bicycle helmets waved above people’s heads as they cheered in time to the lyrics of each song.
It seemed Gogol Bordello pulled out all the stops for this tour and their efforts did not go unnoticed. Just one look at the crowd and you’d witness the love and passion fans shared for the band. Coats were thrown up in the air by members of the audience in time to the foot stomping beat, with even a couple bicycle helmets waved above people’s heads as they cheered in time to the lyrics of each song.
By this point, front singer Eugene Hutz had a bottle of wine in one hand, whilst passionately clutching the mic in the other. He fearlessly sloshed his bottle around, spilling it across the stage (and the crowd) whilst frantically singing to each song. Towards the end of the set, Eugene did his much loved party trick and crowd-surfed across the venue on a giant drum as fans chanted in time to their most iconic song Start Wearing Purple. It was clear Gogol bordello had successfully transported the audience to one of their parties and welcomed us with love.
By the end of the show violinist Sergey Ryabstev’s bow was shredded to smithereens as he played the final song of the evening Think Locally, Fuck Globally, proving the intensity of the electrifying and unforgettable set.
Eugene Hutz, Gogol Bordello’s frontman and mastermind behind this orchestrated chaos had a chat with Nitelife ahead of their Bristol show to talk about the bands seventh studio album Seekers and Finders and why it took four years to create their latest masterpiece.
It took as long as it needed to be. We’re not making fast food hamburgers here or anything like that; we take pride in what we do.”
“Some musicians out there make an album every year or something like that. But for us, it just comes when it comes.”
“The reason why this album took longer was because we didn’t want to be on a music-making conveyor belt. It took as long as it needed to be. We’re not making fast food hamburgers here or anything like that; we take pride in what we do.”
The first single to drop from their upcoming album titled ‘Saboteur Blues’ has been welcomed with roaring reviews. With its typical Gogol Bordello authentic sound of raging guitars riffs entwining with melodic accordion and a fast tempo fiddle, you can hear the ‘gypsy punk’ golden thread that has ran all their music, right back to their debut album Voi-La Intruder in 1999. Eugene talked about where the inspiration came from for the ‘self-sabotage’ themed track.
The song is basically an attempt to put a re-vitalising message to stare at reality, rather than drugging ourselves up into oblivion.”
“Just look around you, everything is collapsing around us right now. It’s about the nature of self-sabotage in general. The world is so self-depredating at the moment. People would rather be negative and surround themselves with negativity. It seems for some, the biggest passion in their lives is to find more sources of negativity.”
“I just think negativity is really main stream at this point. It’s probably the most mainstream fucking thing right now, so I had to write a song about it. The song is basically an attempt to put a re-vitalising message to stare at reality, rather than drugging ourselves up into oblivion.”
Whilst fans eagerly look forward to listening to the long-awaited release of ‘Seekers and Finders’ as a whole, one particular track titled I Did It All has already been tipped as a must listen, featuring US singer and close friend of Eugene’s, Regina Spektor.
“Once the album was nearly complete I decided I want to do a duet. It was quite natural I called Regina because we are from the same bubble of New York, and we started making music around the same time. We have supported each other all the way through and we are both from Eastern Europe, so we speak the native tongue together.”
“I think there can only be so many times you can be drinking wine and partying with your friend before you decide it’s time to do a collaboration together. She really does duet very blissfully on that track, she gave the song her heart and soul, and I cannot wait to show the world. It was really fun to record; we had a pre-party and after-party for the whole thing. I’m really pleased with how it all came together.”
As the conversation with Eugene moved forward, we began talking about the most iconic Gogol Bordello song of all Start Wearing Purple. But over ten years since its release, I wanted to know if Eugene still shared the same affinity with the track as he did when he first set foot on stage to play it live.
“How can you be sick of playing something that gives people so much joy? How can you get sick of playing something that results into thousands of sparkling eyes? The looks in the crowd’s eyes when we play that song live is what it’s all about for me.”
In 2004 Eugene Hutz starred in the documentary Pied Piper of Hutozvina’ where he was filmed tracing the steps of the origin of his music across Eastern Europe. In the documentary, there’s a moment where fans awkwardly witness a highly respected gypsy orthodox musician listening to Gogol Bordello’s music for the first time, before quickly dismissing it as being ‘disrespectful to gypsy music’. Ten years later; we wanted to know if Eugene still faced similar reactions to his music.
“I tend to experience both sides of it and to be honest I am ok with that. I never set out to play traditional music, so it was quite expected it was going to have some rambunctious feedback so to speak. I was completely ok with that though. I mean, for somebody who is so orthodox, it was a totally respectable reaction. I am from the school of thought where everyone should stick to their own guns, and it is ok with me either way. It is a respectable opinion, but it doesn’t drive me one way or another.”
I thought it might be a better way to introduce our music. I quickly learnt though that the world music ‘genre’ was just as corrupt!
Finally, as we were wrapping up, we began talking about the label of ‘world music’ as genre, and whether it does more damage than good to music by marketing it under such a broad umbrella. Seeing one of Gogol Bordello’s album’s sitting in the ‘world music’ section in a record store, it was fitting to hear what Eugene had to say about this vague music ‘genre’ the western culture coined.
“In the beginning, I actually tried to put our music into the world music section, because I was so tired of all the cliché rock n roll marketing. I thought it might be a better way to introduce our music. I quickly learnt though, that the world music ‘genre’ was just as corrupt! After that I just sort of re-focused on the art and didn’t pay much attention on these attributes, especially because I was enjoying the fact we were credited for inventing our own style called ‘gypsy punk’. We were sort of moving our own steam train you know.
“Now, in the world of music it is incredibly hard to realistically carve out your own space because we are all faced with an incredible amount of music that’s already been well executed. It’s getting harder and harder to come up with anything that’s memorable at all. Really, the gist of it is that people need to be recognising music as its own individual thing. With the rest, I kind of relax about it and just let it be. We still do our own thing, but we play in theatres, rock venues and jazz festivals, and I like to be able to jump around the world like that. That’s the way to go.”
GOGOL BORDELLO: 4 July – O2 Academy
Gogol.Bordello // Words by Abi Lewis