Gogol Bordello Break Down New Album SOLIDARITINE Track by Track: Exclusive

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Track by Track is our recurring feature series that gives artists a space to take us through every song on their latest release. Today, Ukrainian punks Gogol Bordello break down SOLIDARITINE.

Ukrainian punk rockers Gogol Bordello return with the group’s eighth studio album, SOLIDARITINE, today (September 16th). Delivering furious punk songs with a distinct Eastern European touch, the band remains veracious, creative, and honest.

The 13 tracks of SOLIDARITINE pull no punches. Taking swings at injustice, intolerance, and crypto bros, the album is rooted in classic punk tradition: say what you mean and say it loud. With a Fugazi cover, Social Distortion references, and an appearance from H.R. of Bad Brains, Gogol Bordello’s mission is well-studied and seemingly endorsed by icons of the genre.

“Songwriting is a sacred craft and punk is a great place for it,” frontman Eugene Hütz tells Consequence. “For me, punk rock was always about that Woody Guthrie-ness: All you fascists are bound to lose! And also about that Fugazi-ness: never mind what’s been sellin’, it’s what you buying.”

Yet, an undeniable streak of empathy runs through the project. Gogol Bordello expands on their rage with a plea — or perhaps more accurately, a demand — to love thy neighbor. The namesake for the album comes from an imaginary chemical that “unlocks our empathy and our full human potential.”

“[It’s] supposed to unite us in overcoming our common problems,” Hütz explains. “It’s kind of a brother of Adrenaline, or at least it rhymes with it. So, shots of Solidaritine for everyone in Gogol house and let’s go!”

The sentiment results in righteous anger, a rage that holds the moral high ground — and it’s all presented with the type of energy that can only be derived from brotherhood.

Listen to Gogol Bordello’s SOLIDARITINE below, followed by Eugene Hütz’s Track by Track breakdown. The band is also headed out on tour; you can pick up tickets via Ticketmaster.

“Shot of Solidaritine”:

“Shot of Solidaritine” is the opener. Solidaritine is an imaginary substance that unlocks our empathy and our full human potential, which is supposed to unite us in overcoming our common problems. It’s kind of a brother of Adrenaline, or at least it rhymes with it.

So, shots of Solidaritine for everyone in Gogol house and let’s go! Sonically, I think we made a full circle… from Gypsy-Punky-hardcore all the way to kind of Sympho Punk of the last album and now we are red hot and rowdy again, because that’s where we came from and also because such are the times.

“Focus Coin”:

How about instead of Bitcoin bar bro talk, invest into your “focus coin” for once? You’re gonna be broke inside anyways if your focus is dispersed. That’s the message of it. And the band’s synergy here got pretty red hot. We just love that catchy hook-after-hook locomotion vibe and smashing together all our favorite grooves — punk, ska, hardcore, and gypsy stomp — that we kind of mastered knowing that radio is too fuckin’ lame to really play us, but we are gonna do huge crowds anyway.

So I made emphasis on writing songs that get you instantly on the same page even if you don’t know who the fuck we are. Like, it don’t matter, ’cause now you are with us anyway. And the message is vital: be your own disinformation expert. If your filter is broken, you are fucked… good luck living on Flat Earth.

“Blueprint (Fugazi cover)”:

Songwriting is a sacred craft and punk is a great place for it. For me, punk rock was always about that Woody Guthrie-ness: All you fascists are bound to lose! And also about that Fugazi-ness: never mind what’s been sellin’, it’s what you buying. We always have a blast playing this incredible song live. So, we could not not do it while recording at the great Inner Ear Studio in DC with the legendary Don Zientara himself, who recorded all those fantastic Fugazi records. Also, Ian MacKaye stopped by to say hello, so we were pretty much in next-level heaven.

“The Era of the End of Eras”:
This is one of the definitive tracks of the album, talking about resilience to worlds collapsing around us like dominoes, and yet there is continuity of the good, some kind of silver thread we stick with, and then the great H.R. of Bad Brains comes in as the sage blessing it and as if living proof of it. When we heard H.R.’s voice in the mix, Walter [Schreifels, who produced the record] and I were practically in tears. Walter also jumps in on some sizzlin’ guitar here; it’s a nice super sonic touch.

“I’m Coming Out”:

“I’m Coming Out” is a song of liberation. It’s written from the point of view of a human who almost turns into a cyborg, but catches himself and decides to turn against the technogenic sphere to remain human. It’s kind of inspired by early sci-fi dystopian novels like We, Brave New World, and 1984.

Thus, it’s got that psychobilly vibe that once sounded futuristic in horror films. But it also can be about liberation from whatever loop you were stuck in — be it personal, lifestyle, philosophical, political, or anything at all. It’s a march of liberation from whatever was oppressing you.

“Knack for Life”:

“Knack for Life” got really funky, in that immigrant punk kind of way. I’ve always wanted to write a song that fights age discrimination. This is it. It’s also a funky ode to the streetwise of the world, the kind they don’t make anymore. Boris’s guitar playing here is just yumsky, and rhythm section just grooves furiously. Band’s fave!

“The Great Hunt of Idiot Savant”:

This is one of those simpler, sappy punky songs that pop out when it gets cold and things get snuggly at home. You look at all those photos from crazy summer touring and think, “Who the fuck is that guy going bananas playing 120 shows a year waving his arms around.” Then you reflect deeper and go, “Oh yeah, that’s me, now I’m doing the same thing just without leaving my house in the company of my awesome girlfriend.”

“Take Only What You Can Carry”:

Oleksandra Zariska from Ukrainian synth pop band Kazka is featured here and, as you will see, she is a racious rock singer as well, bringing an emotional message of the uprooted people whose lives were destroyed by this fucked up war in Ukraine. She is doing great justice to Serhiy Zhadan’s lyrics too.

Yeah, it’s something that I’ve never done before, use someone else’s poetry for lyrics. But here the idea was to bring three diverse Ukrainian artists together into a knuckle for a continuous moral bust to the fighters and refugees. Plus, I really love Zhadan’s poetry, he is a wordsmith from God. No wonder he is nominated for Nobel Prize.

“My Imaginary Son”:

A few years back, when I met Mike Ness from Social D (one of my favorite songwriters of all time), he was on tour with his son and they were hanging out a lot together. That sweet story stuck with me and I wrote “My Imaginary Son” out of it as kind of my own wishful version of it. I really love that song and how it came out.

“Forces of Victory”:

A new version of “Forces of Victory” was created for this album in order to make a purposeful duet against the war in Ukraine with our dear friend Serhiy Zhadan, who is a well-seasoned Ukrainian punk rocker and Nobel Prize-nominated poet and novelist. It’s in our native Ukrainian, but you might dig the extreme broiling hardcore energy of it where Sergey’s violin virtuosity truly shines.

“Fire on Ice Floe”:

“Fire on Ice Floe” is a danceaholic special, but also a closet case philosopher special. It tackles riddles of our life right there on the dance floor. Our drummer Korey Kingston really shines here bringin’ incredible grooves together.

“Gut Guidance”:

“Gut Guidance” was also recorded in DC with Don Zientara (see Fugazi, Bad Brains, and most of DC hardcore classics). Intuition is kind of your GPS if it’s cultivated. Trusting your guttural intuition is an important topic: staying faithful to your true calling, staying present and focused in times of adversity. Those are the skills we need to get through these times, that’s for sure.

“Huckleberry Generation”:

Where I grew up in Obolon, Kyiv was very much like the Bronx. There are a lot of housing projects, sand, construction, and pretty much nothing else besides us trying to color this book. There were urban tensions, cliques, and danger. So, I always felt like Huckleberry Finn even though he was a character from far away in an American book.

It’s how we grew up. It was our vibe. There was a need to be street smart. Now as I look back, I see that most of my friends and peers were actually successful in their lives without trying to climb any career ladders or compromising themselves. I attribute it to that Huckleberry kind of attitude of our generation. Obviously, the band had a blast on this one, this kind of delinquent fun is still a huge part of Gogol.

Gogol Bordello Break Down New Album SOLIDARITINE Track by Track: Exclusive
Jonah Krueger

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