Eugene Hütz talks about one of the less obvious influences on the band's gypsy punk.
In today’s New Orleans Advocate, I interview Eugene Hütz of Gogol Bordello, who play the House of Blues tonight. Perhaps because “Immigraniada (We Comin’ Rougher)” is the first Gogol Bordello song to make me think about the band as an idea and not simply high energy theater, I entered the conversation thinking that Hütz and I would talk about immigration and the immigrant experience. It became clear quickly that he brought a broader perspective to the question, one that wasn’t slowed by geopolitical borders. In an interview about the song’s video, he corrected Mother Jones’ Michael Mechanic when he referred to the jobs people had in the video as “shit jobs.”
“The jobs in the video are not really shitty jobs,” Hütz said. “Those are like normal jobs.”
In fact, we talked more about warm weather, Brazil (his home of the last six years), New Orleans, and the purpose of music than immigration. In its band membership, Gogol Bordello presents a small, multicultural community, but our conversation about why it was that way become more about the process of band members finding their replacements than Hütz's philosophy, and by the time we got to this thought, I realized that revisiting the thought would be asking him to think in a way that he didn't. Perhaps as a result of living much of his life crossing geopolitical borders and cultures, they were dividing lines that he didn't even acknowledge, much less account for.
A clue into how he approached questions like this came in his discussion of martial arts, which prompted my Advocate story’s headline:
I liked the dialogue as an artist with a martial artist. It’s a really inspiring dialogue because martial arts—the origin of it, the East—is so closely tied into Eastern philosophies and an entirely different way of looking at life. The judgmentalism and compartmentalization of Western minds don’t apply. It’s so much closer to liberation from egoic programs, and so much more closely tied to actually being in this world as opposed to thinking that you’re being in this world. Western civilization is completely diseased with several things [laughs]. They can’t stop smoking, they can’t stop drinking. They can’t stop thinking; therefore, they can’t stop being. The internal human intelligence has no chance.