THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “This is music of survival and perseverance. That’s always been our main driving force,” declares Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz about their new album Solidaritine. “We just want to give the world a timeless album with messages of human potential and power.” Their eighth full-length album is inspired by survival in the face of adversity – a theme that can be applied to the pandemic just as much as it can be applied to the war going on in his native Ukraine.
“Our music was always about perseverance,” exclaims Eugene. “Rock ’n’ roll comes out of a real place. Take a group of people who have endured immigrant traumas and dislocation. They create music, get successful together, become more baroque and experimental, and experience some years of relative calm. All of a sudden, humankind encounters these problems like the pandemic and the war. This is when rock ’n’ roll is the most necessary and where we perform the best.”
The septet of mixed heritage from locations such as Ukraine, Ecuador, and Russia have consistently riled up audiences with an inimitable patchwork of punk, gypsy, dub, folk, Latin swing, and Eastern European magic. With the more hardcore leanings of Solidaritine, the sense of urgency and a fresh bolt of energy returns the band to their incendiary beginnings while keeping their agit-prop leanings front and center. “I started playing punk rock as a kid. So, I was going back to it,” Hutz says. “I realized music was a really great way to levitate above all of these trials of life.”
Tapping New York underground icon Walter Schreifels (Gorilla Biscuits, Rival Schools, Quicksand) for the producer seat, Gogol Bordello dove deep into the studio and emerged with a album rife with the insurgent sound of survival. “The album is really about uniting the people of goodwill,” Hutz reveals. “Releasing any kind of art that doesn’t address the situation in Ukraine right now would be pretty despicable.”
Dusting off a handful of the punkier tracks that were originally recorded for their last album Seekers & Finders, Eugene and crew recorded 13 tracks of unbridled energy. The opening track Shot Of Solidaritine kicks off acoustically before launching into a raucous sprint at a breakneck pace. Gogol take the post-hardcore classic Blueprint by Fugazi and inject their trademark Eastern European stomp. H.R. of Bad Brains guested on The Era of the End of Eras, blessing the track with a cameo punctuated by a key moment from the Bad Brains anthem Sailin’ On. Eugene enthuses, “Walter and I were in tears when H.R. sent it in.” The new single Focus Coin embraces the punk spirit that fueled Eugene’s creativity streak throughout Solidaritine. Eugene explains, “The quality of your ability to focus defines everything in your life and that’s exactly what … Focus Coin is about. Your focus is the hardest currency there is.”
Forces of Victory — which features award-winning Ukrainian poet and novelist Serhiy Zhadan and electrofolk band Kazka — explodes with dizzying acoustic guitars and violin, charging forward at lightspeed before crashing into an uplifting verse kickstarted by fits of electric guitar. “It’s a very extreme hardcore number, but here’s the mystical part of it,” Hutz observes. “It originally appeared on Super Taranta! (Gogol Bordello’s fourth studio album) When we recorded the first version of it, a lot of things were unintentionally empty. Entire chunks of the song are instrumental. This year, the words came to me in like five seconds for those parts, and they were distinctly about dignity, integrity, and resilience. The righteous cause of Ukraine is undeniable.”
Formed in 1999, Gogol Bordello took their style of Eastern European-influenced gypsy punk and doused it deep into the underground rock of New York City. Along with Hutz on vocals, guitar and percussion, the band includes Sergey Ryabtsev (violin), Pedro Erazo (percussion, MC), Boris Pelekh (guitar), Ashley Tobias (dance, percussion), Korey Kingston (drums) and Gil Alexandre (bass).”