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© RIA Novosti. Maksim Bogodvid

Gogol Bordello unplugged

by Vladimir Kozlov at 17/11/2011 19:43

Gogol Bordello

Nov. 25, 9 pm, Arena Moscow, 31 Leningradsky Prospekt, bldg. 4, m. Dinamo

The New York-based “gypsy punk” band Gogol Bordello is coming to Russia to play several acoustic shows and present a new record with Russian-language songs.

Gogol Bordello – the band that made ‘gypsy punk’ popular

© Photo / Courtesy of Melnitsa

Gogol Bordello – the band that made ‘gypsy punk’ popular

“It’s a collection of songs that accumulated over years and never had an outlet,” Eugene Hutz, the band’s front man, told The Moscow News in a telephone interview.

“Our primary audiences for the last decade have been Englishand Spanish-speaking. But being an Eastern-European band at the core, we always had songs in Russian, which never saw the light of the day. And I’m super-excited that this moment has actually come.

“Some of [the songs] are very old, and some I wrote this past summer,” Hutz said, adding that the band has many more songs in the Russian language.

Formed by Hutz, a Ukrainian immigrant, in the late 1990s, Gogol Bordello gradually moved from performing at underground venues to massive international prominence. And while Gogol Bordello is mostly known for its powerful, “raw energy” performances, there is another side to the band, which is best expressed at acoustic gigs.

“The whole acoustic idea was inspired by fans,” Hutz said. “Gogol Bordello has always been two bands in one: an electric band and an acoustic band. We actually started out as an acoustic band back in 1998.

‘Married to acoustic’ – Eugene Hutz

© Photo / Courtesy of Melnitsa

‘Married to acoustic’ – Eugene Hutz

“When it progressed to being a full-on rock’n’roll orchestra, it [became] a beautiful thing and I love it,” he added. “But it’s a bulldozer, it sweeps everything in its way, and I started to miss some of the dynamics, nuances and the lyrical side of the original band, and so did some fans.”

According to Hutz, the band has songs that “are married to the acoustic repertoire” and were therefore not recorded on any of Gogol Bordello’s six studio albums released to date.

So, the band’s acoustic tour, which continues through mid-December with dates in Britain, Italy, France and other European countries in addition to Russia, gives fans an opportunity to check out songs that they would be unlikely to have heard anywhere before.

Meanwhile, the Russian-language album contains, in addition to Hutz’ songs, cover versions of two songs by legendary Sovietera singer-songwriter Vladimir Vysotsky.

“Vysotsky was the lullaby music of my childhood,” Hutz said. “[Doing the covers] was a perfect opportunity for me to return to the raw side of Vysotsky, and do it from my point of view, with all the respect and all the feeling for it.

“My perspective on Russian, or, say Eastern European culture, is filtered through some years and a lot of geographical distance,” he went on to say. “And when you are in that position, only titans of that culture really stay loud and proud. When I was recording those songs in Brazil with a crew who never heard the name of Vysotsky, they were crying in the studio because that material was so powerful.”

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