Gogol Bordello is a Gypsy punk band from the Lower East Side of Manhattan, formed in 1999 and known for theatrical stage shows and persistent touring.
Much of the band's sound is inspired by Gypsy music. The band incorporates minor-key accordion and violin (and on some albums, saxophone) mixed with punk and dub.
The band has appeared in a number of independent films, most notably in 2005's Everything Is Illuminated in which the lead singer, Eugene Hütz, co-starred with Elijah Wood in a dramedy and adventure story about the Nazi purges in Ukraine. The entire group was present for one shot in which they played a brass band in a set that included the Star Spangled Banner. They also played the traditional Yiddish tune Bublitschki (little bagels). Gogol Bordello contributed the song "Start Wearing Purple" to the film's score.
"Gogol" comes from the name Nikolai Gogol. As one of the most influential writers in Ukrainian and Russian literature, Gogol paved the way for the likes of Kafka and Dostoyevsky. He also serves as an ideological influence for the band because he "smuggled" Ukrainian culture into Russian society, which Gogol Bordello intends to do with Gypsy/ East-European music in the English-speaking world. "Bordello", in Italian, refers to a brothel or a "gentleman's club". The band was originally titled Hütz and the Béla Bartóks, but Eugene Hütz says that they decided to change the name because "nobody knows who the hell Béla Bartók is in the United States". The band played their first show as the unofficial band at an after-hours club called Pizdetz where they became the house band and DJ Hütz became the house DJ.
Gogol Bordello's first single was released in 1999, and since then they have released five full-length albums, and one EP. In 2005 the band signed to punk label SideOneDummy Records. On 27 April 2010 Gogol Bordello made its major record label debut with Transcontinental Hustle on Rick Rubin's American Recordings, a subsidiary of Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment. Many of the songs on Transcontinental Hustle were inspired by Hütz's move to Brazil. .
The band has toured tirelessly throughout Europe and America. They have made appearances at numerous international festivals and toured with such diverse bands as Primus, Flogging Molly, and Cake. In an interview with NPR, frontman Eugene Hütz cites Jimi Hendrix and Parliament-Funkadelic as among the band's main musical influences. They have mentioned Manu Chao, Fugazi, Zvuki Mu, Karamelo Santo, Sasha Kolpakov and The Clash as influences as well.
In August 2010 the band was rumored to participate in the Ukrainian national selection for the Eurovision Song Contest 2011, but the band soon denied this. Gogol Bordello performed seven shows with System of a Down throughout May of 2011
They performed live at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts festival 2011 for Bonnaroo's 10 year anniversary, playing a 1.5 hour set in the middle of the night and performed with Devotchka.