During an interview with Oklahoma Gazette, Eugene Hutz pulls a Fred Jones action figure from his jacket pocket and puzzles over it for a second before returning it to his pocket.
Hutz was gifted the Scooby Doo character’s plastic likeness from a member of legendary London punk band GBH at a NYC show a few nights prior, unaware that he would be gracing the stage a couple months hence in a building bearing the name of another Fred Jones in downtown Oklahoma City.
Hutz fronts the iconic folk-punk band Gogol Bordello, who play The Jones Assembly tomorrow (July 12).
In addition to touring in support of their latest studio record, 2022’s Solidaritine, Hutz has released two songs championing the Ukrainian fight against the Russians featuring musical heavyweights. Released last year, “Zelensky: The Man With the Iron Balls” was written by Les Claypool (most notably of Primus) and features Hutz, along with Billy Strings, Sean Lennon and others. This spring, Gogol Bordello unleashed “United Strike Back” with punk legends Jello Biafra, Tre Cool, Joe Lally and Roger Miret among other guests.
After more than a quarter-century in the same milieu, receiving support from those whose music helped shape his aesthetic defies categorization for Hutz.
“It’s a lot to process, but I don’t really process it. I just do what I think is my true calling. Who was it who said the meaning of life is to locate your true calling and your purpose in life is to give it away. There are many ways to articulate that position … Along those lines, I feel like that was my true calling per time and space that I was in, was to be a point of tangible help to my original tribe and to my newly-found tribe. ‘Newly-found tribe’ meaning the punk-hardcore scene worldwide, ‘original tribe’ meaning the Ukrainian people,” Hutz said.
As a child, Hutz and his family fled the Chernobyl meltdown in his native Ukraine, landing on the east coast of the United States where he honed his punk roots while remaining rooted in his culture’s musical traditions.
“Another dimension of life for me was always about how you go through the journey of life preserving your roots while going on an adventure. The key is to carry your roots in your back pocket and get cosmopolitan but have access to your roots. I’ve been trying to do artistic work from that position and I feel like I’ve kind of made a point of having both of those components activated. For example, it’s a phenomenon among diasporas in immigrant cultures that the second generation usually rejects their roots and completely abandons them. It’s how historically things went, which is why nobody knows that Andy Warhol was Ukrainian by descent and many, many other people. It was to get to where their new identity can be championed, which is understandable in a lot of ways, but I thought that I could fine-tune that progressive cosmopolitan position by staying closer to the origin,” he said.