Michael Buckner | Frazer Harrison, Getty Images Now this is a collaboration that…
- Posted on Jul 12th 2010 6:15PM by Simona Rabinovitch
He was singled out by Madonna, who directed him in 2008's 'Filth and Wisdom.' Hütz also starred in 2005's 'Everything is Illuminated,' playing, with hysterical finesse, the role of a Ukrainian hipster. The following year, he was the subject of the documentary 'The Pied Piper of Hutzovina,' and there's also a doc that follows Hütz and his band of merry punksters to raucous gigs around the world: 'Gogol Bordello Non-Stop.'
"I think being an immigrant gives you an affinity with the experience of all kinds of immigrants and all kinds of minorities," says 37-year-old Hütz, who was born in the Ukraine and spent years trekking through refugee camps in Poland, Austria and Italy with his family before making his way to the US.
"I wasn't born in a ghetto -- no, I was not -- I went to a very normal school and grew up in a very normal family, pretty much a standard urban situation in the Ukraine," Hütz tells Spinner. "And there was nothing really exotic about it because it was Soviet Union, you know, big city with not so many great shapes and forms, it was pretty square.
"But what gave me the material to write songs that have more substance is my immigration experience and being in refugee camps and living on the outskirts of town."
Hütz, who spent a decade in New York, has been living in Brazil for the past two years. It's an experience that inspired Gogol Bordello's new Rick Rubin-produced album, 'Trans-Continental Hustle.' The band's other eight members hail from all over the world: Russia, Ethiopia, Israel, Scotland, Ecuador and the US. Both musically and culturally, the members of Gogol Bordello live up to their reputations as "gypsy punks."
Since the band's 1999 debut, they've toured the world caravan-style, playing more than 200 gigs a year and ravaging fans with a cacophony of world music, ska, salsa, reggae, klezmer and, of course, punk. Shows tend to become unbridled fiestas -- "mosh pit" is an understatement.
As such, Gogol Bordello have come to represent a raucous internationalism woven from the coolest bits of any and every culture. The band's nomadic gypsy values add a gritty authenticity to even the most highbrow offerings. (To wit, the press release for 'Trans-Continental Hustle' makes a point of mentioning that Hütz was cited as a "key inspiration" for Gucci's Fall 2008 Menswear Line.) Yet Gogol Bordello's deal isn't about time, place or style, but rather a rowdy, happily rebellious sense of wanderlust and discovery -- of belonging everywhere and nowhere.
With a barely discernible shrug that suggests he'd rather be making music than talking about it, the "Hützter" is nonchalantly philosophical about his adventures. "You know, somebody said to me something interesting, that every kind of experience is awaiting everybody in life; just in different sequence. But the menu of life is pretty much the same for everybody.
"The band basically became a gang of people who also feel at home when travelling," says Hütz. "It's one of those big things that keeps us together: love for music and love for travelling."