Eugene Hutz: Pretty much everything. The Stooges, Dead Kennedys, Joy Division, Devo, Birthday Party. We heard all the really creative artists.
AS: Was it a vibrant scene?
EH: Well it wasn’t huge. It was pretty small, but everyone in it was fanatical.
AS: That’s a great list of influences on the punk side of things. What about really inspirational gypsy artists?
EH: There are quite a few. Sasha Kolpakov was a huge influence of mine. Later on I was lucky enough to meet him and play with the Kolpakov Trio.
AS: On the surface, gypsy and punk might seem incongruous. How did you even come up with the idea to fuse these two disparate genres?
EH: Haha I have told this story many times. The truth is I never really thought about it. It was very natural for me. The musical mind, it comes from an instinct. This is what came out for me.
The intellectual side comes in the lyrics, where I write about my life and what I know. I was almost afraid of an educational force on them. Until I started the band, I thought everyone knew about gypsies. But then I found out no one knew anything about them! So I started to write songs about the social, political and other aspects of gypsy life.
AS: Stylistically, you are not alone as of late. It seems there is a burgeoning trend in music towards fusion. Many notable bands have been fusing older music genres with newer ones, the Decemberists fuse folk with indie/prog rock, Flogging Molly with Celtic folk and punk, Dresden Dolls, Rasputina etc. How do you feel about this movement?
EH: Gypsy is not old. Electronics are older than harp. To me, the 80s sound older than the first classical recordings with violin. So I don’t really see it as something unusual to combine; for me growing up it was very present. I have tons of people who have this childish interpretation of our music. They think they can grow a moustache, play accordion, call me and say “hey we play gypsy too, we should play together.” I say “Well what the f&*# does that have to do with me?” I feel no affinity to these people.
AS: So I know that you DJ a night in New York. Do you think that DJing feeds into your music or vice versa?
EH: Well let’s see. I have been in bands since I was 14. I have been slicing tapes, the old way you know with Scotch tape, since I was 11 or 12. I guess I’ve always done both at once. I don’t really separate the two. I am always doing something or writing lyrics, prose or plays. DJing I have always seen as just another form of song-writing, so I think that GB and my DJing are connected.
AS: It’s safe to say your live show is quite renowned. How do you approach recording, trying to retain this live energy in the studio?
EH: It’s a really special band and way of recording. The energy comes from playing together and recording live, homemade and original, it’s like recording a living being. People may be fooled for a while by other things, but eventually…the guttural receptor knows that s&^$ made on laptop is made on laptop.
AS: With those views in mind, have you ever thought of only recording live albums in the future? Just playing and recording shows where the set list is the desired tracklist for the next album?
EH: Definitely, our next album may very well be a live album.
AS: Future projects?
EH: I am actually working on this electronic record. It is Romanian gypsy music in electronic music. It is all very hard to describe. But I was DJing one night and played some tracks; it had this stupefying effect on the crowd, where they just stood there and weren’t sure what was going on. I was just really fascinated by it.
AS: Any parting words?
EH: Everyone should come out and see us, it should be good time. Party!
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