Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello’s revival includes a stop at Royal Oak Music Theatre
Before rock’s cultural stew, Gogol Bordello, launched a 10-year anniversary tour to celebrate its spirited release “Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike” last year, Ukrainian-born frontman Eugene Hütz stumbled upon a Cambridge University student’s thesis centered on the album.
The paper changed his mind.
Previously, Hütz, 43, had no desire to jump on the obligatory reunion-tour bandwagon, but “this quite elaborate academic work with all this historic and cultural impact (the album’s) had on the Anglo-Saxon landscape” made him think, “Wait a second. Maybe it’s time.”
Hütz describes the celebratory blast-from-the-past show as a “surrealist happening.” And as usual, the musical ecstasy washing over his sweaty skin will result in him losing his shirt “30 seconds into the first song” when the band blitzes into town March 26 at the Royal Oak Music Theatre.
The region is “the birthplace of (Ann Arbor-born band) The Stooges and that’s always in the background of the consciousness whenever I’m there,” Hütz says. “Secondly, there’s a huge Ukrainian community and diaspora center, so those two things are already a massive mood setter for us. The musical history of Detroit is well-known and the crowd connects to it.”
Certainly, though, it doesn’t hurt to know the origins of “gypsy punk.” Where does it come from? Basically, mass confusion.
“When we first appeared on the block, it seemed like people were racking their brains trying to clarify and categorize,” Hütz says of the band, which formed in New York in 1999, “and we looked at that for a while and said, ‘OK, I don’t think they’re succeeding.’ ”
The band didn’t just shed light on its sound — they named an entire album after it, merging their two most prominent musical influences: punk-rock music and Eastern European-inspired gypsy music. Released in 2005, “Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike” is a freewheeling, oft-manic melting pot of instrumentation and culture that’s as colorful and carefree as its frontman.
According to Hütz, Gogol’s style is looser than straight up gypsy music, meaning Hütz can smack those guitar strings and pretend he’s playing flamenco when, in fact, “I don’t know what I’m doing on guitar.”
Featuring musicians from every continent but Australia, the band’s members, he notes, are trained virtuosos.
Hütz compares the band’s earliest live performances of “Gypsy Punk” jams to “musical karate.” But because diehard gypsy-punkers have reveled in these songs for a decade, performing them now, he says, is like “musical aikido — there’s zero attack necessary.”
Hütz whoops with laughter. “It’s like playing to a standing ovation!”
Between shows, the quartet managed to record their forthcoming album, a follow-up to 2013’s “Pura Vida Conspiracy.” The tracks, Hütz says, were laid down at Inner Ear Studios just outside Washington, D.C., and also at the Beastie Boys’ studio in New York City “where their humor is in every molecule of that studio” putting Gogol “that much more on track.”
Outside of that, and like the band’s still-life-affirming aura, there’s not much to be said ... only felt.
“Words are completely useless to describe it because it largely lays in the feeling,” Hütz contends, “and the feeling keeps originating itself.”
Chris Azzopardi is a Canton-based freelance writer.
8 p.m. Sat.
Royal Oak Music Theatre
318 W. Fourth, Royal Oak