Gogol Bordello: High-Energy Gypsy Punk

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Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hütz performs in the Soundcheck studio.

The self-described Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello is famous for its wild live shows and geographically diverse musical influences. But the most incisive way to understand the group might be through its tour rider:

Provide water, and the band will shake your hand and say thank you. Provide coffee, and the band will take some awesome pics with you, which will look great on Facebook! Provide red wine and vodka and you will be telling your grandkids in 50 years time about the day Gogol came to visit you.

John Schaefer breaks out the good stuff for Gogol Bordello — and makes the band earn it in the studio. 


WEB EXTRA: Listen to Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz perform the song "We Shall Sail" in the Soundcheck studio: 

Gogol Bordello - We Shall Sail


Interview Highlights

Eugene Hutz, on the serendipitous origin of the Pura Vida’s title during a show in Latin America:

We walked out on stage to do an encore and the crowd was chanting, “Pura vida! Pura vida!” And I immediately remembered a story about George Clinton [of Parliament Funkadelic], which is one of my all-time huge inspirations. I remember this story, how he walked out on stage and the crowd was chanting, “We want the funk!” And he was like, “Man! I’m gonna put that on a record! That sounds great!” So I thought, “I think this is my moment. This is my Parliament moment right here.”

On emigrating to the United States knowing only the English he learned from his favorite bands:

I was fanatical about music. I knew my Sex Pistols, Dead Kennedys, Joy Division, Bad Seeds, Black Flag, and so on. I knew a lot of words without knowing what they mean. Sometimes I looked them up, but I was more concerned with their music…. It was a good start.

On the Brazilian phrase “malandro” that inspired the song “Malandrino:”

It’s a sort of a character that is kind of free-flowing and not necessarily employed. Connotations for a rebel, for a screwball, for somebody who’s figured out another way of living. Possibly [a gangster]. But it is always somebody who kind of lives in style…. That person in a white suit walking — but at the same time swinging samba — is the malandro.