Meet Gogol Bordello, the gypsy-punk oddballs bringing the sexy back

Sarah Boden meets Gogol Bordello, the band whose frenzied live shows have earned them a reputation as rock provocateurs

With his bushy moustache, gold tooth and purple stripy trousers, Eugene Hutz looks more like a wiry circus strongman than the leader of band. Amid the bronzed bathers and volleyball players on a Californian beach, the 35-year-old master provocateur and his eight-strong gypsy punk collective stick out like exotic interlopers.

Formed in 1999, with members from as far afield as Russia, Ecuador and Ethiopia, Gogol Bordello have brought their exuberant synthesis of Eastern European and Western styles from the musical underground of Lower East Side New York to the world stage. Their frenzied live shows incorporate everything from Slavic accordion and fiddle to punk guitars and percussive fire buckets.

While critics have struggled to classify their sound, Hutz, who draws on his Roma heritage, is quick to shrug off the world music tag. 'We were always a rock'n'roll band from day one,' he says, as last year's fourth album, Super Taranta!, attests. 'When the band became famous, world music tried to exploit us to sound cooler. But I have no affinity with that. It wasn't intended as a racist term, but basically it is. You end up in the world music section where kids do not go because it is not where the sexy vibes are.'


Sarah Boden

The GuardianTramp

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