You’ll know Eugene Hütz as the singer of gypsy punk phenomenon Gogol Bordello—or at least, you ought to by now. With appearances in film and all over the world with his acclaimed musical troupe, Hütz has been helping audiences “[toward] new sources of authentic energy…with acts of music, theater, chaos and sorcery.” Intrigued? Read on.
Your band is made up of members from all over the world. What do all those different backgrounds bring to Gogol Bordello?
We really ain’t tryin’ nothing. I think every artist that’s being authentic will simply express what they’re feeling inside. Our only difference is that we’re comprised from different cultures. We have different backgrounds but our thinking is very unified. We’re essentially driven by rock & roll music and its history and by an obsession with gypsy music whether that was inherited or an acquired taste. [Our backgrounds] help to relate to people all over the world but [our style] doesn’t come from an actual idea, like ‘let’s do that’. It’s a feeling that was already there.
What’s the best moment you can have during a show or on a tour?
A lot of shows go very differently and evoke different feelings. It doesn’t matter how you get there but the eyes must sparkle and there must be a crackle in the air. If that doesn’t happen then you’ve got a fuckin’ problem. But how you get there? That’s irrelevant. We can get there by starting methodically or by starting with a shot of Jagermeister. It doesn’t really matter.
You’ve had roles in the adaptation of Everything is Illuminated and in Madonna’s “Filth and Wisdom.” What do you like about acting that’s different from making music?
It depends on the role, but all in all it’s a very different experience and [uses] very different creative muscles. Everything that looks good onstage basically looks terrible onscreen. You know how musicians usually look in the morning—very bad. If they don’t have a good director they’re fucked, because they are kind of accustomed to big gestures which are a massive failure on the screen. It largely depends on the script itself and on the team. I was lucky so far every time. With Liev Schrieber we were great friends and the whole process was like an older brother walking me through it. The dynamic remained through the film and way after the film. Every time I see Liev it’s like I just ran into the older brother that just hopped off from the roof where he was fixing up something. It’s like “So what’ve you been up to man? Let’s go get a drink.” Working with [Madonna] was very different but she directed as a musician would direct.
That must have been an interesting dynamic, to be two musicians putting together [a film].
Of course, that was a different kind of vibe but it was also very fun and flowing. The only thing I hate about [acting] is waking up 6 in the morning. Especially after leaving the party at 5:30. Those scenes where I look really underslept, I am really underslept.
Ha! There was a character in a movie called Wristcutters that was based off of you. How involved were you with the creation of the character?
My friend wrote the script with me in mind and then unfortunately by the time the movie really got the funds and everything together I was so busy with [Gogol Bordello] that there was no way that I could leave my brothers and sisters in the band. I was booked for a year and a half in advance, you know? And that’s how I lost my opportunity to be in a film with Tom Waits. Fucking A, you know?
Do you feel like this increased fame restricts you from getting involved in all the projects you’d like to be a part of?
You just can’t be in both places at once. Some things have to go through and some things have to wait. Of course I’ve gotten a lot busier but I’m pretty much busy with things that are really—with the good ones.
One thing about Gogol Bordello is that it’s unremovable. If it’s social music or introspective music or if it’s joyous or tragic, we always have fun with it. We’re kind of like a musical social interaction. Like a United Nations on wheels.