Before recording Gogol Bordello's most recent album "Pura Vida Conspiracy," frontman Eugene Hutz and his girlfriend moved to Rio de Janeiro, "driven" to Brazil by what he calls the "libido" of South America.
"Not 'libido' like sex, not the primitive word that Freud uses," Hutz says from his Fort Lauderdale hotel room. "'Libido' meaning creative forces. I could give you a paragraph about the South American cultures that sucked me in, how the beats and the smells of it all enticed me to live there. It's very joy-oriented."
Hutz, who says he "just woke up" after driving to South Florida from the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa the previous night, sounds groggy on this late Monday afternoon. Such is the life of Hutz's merry eight-piece band of Gypsy punk adventurers, consisting of immigrants from Russia, Israel and Ukraine, who will perform a two-night stand Wednesday and Thursday at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale. If Hutz seems tired, it's because Gogol Bordello is still on a breakneck tour 18 months after the release of "Pura Vida Conspiracy," with every stop bringing high-octane, exuberant songs set to accordion, fiddle, drums and Hutz's electric guitar.
Hutz's peripatetic lifestyle (he lives part-time in New York, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo) is all over "Pura Vida Conspiracy," a collection of frenetic tracks that are part Gypsy folk and part punk, embedded with rhythms sampled from the Caribbean and South America. Spanish rap appears during an instrumental break in "We Rise Again." "Malandrino" borrows mariachi horns. "Dig Deep Enough" contains a smashup of Russian fiddles and a dancehall reggae beat.
"I don't move down to South America to do this touristic quick impression, then decide my next album will contain rapping and samba. I have to live the lifestyle," says Hutz, whose band will kick off a co-headlining tour in June with Irish punk band Flogging Molly. "It's a natural expression of living a pure life. That informs the writing of the melody. It doesn't hurt that [the] Spanish language is more poetic for expression than English."
What helped make Hutz a man of constant travel and touring was his learning to stop feeling nostalgic about past adventures. He doesn't, for example, think much about Boyarka, Ukraine, the hometown he evacuated after the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. Nor does he dwell on the refugee camps in Poland, Hungary and Austria in which he lived before immigrating to New York in the late 1990s. In another song from the album, "My Gypsy Auto Pilot," Hutz recounts returning to Boyarka as a stranger in a transformed city: "I came back to my hometown incognito/To forget about it all/Suddenly, I heard 'Hey Pepito'/You don't ever give a call?"
"That song is autobiographical. It's about forging your own destiny, about not living your life like you're constantly on a trolley bus," Hutz says. "I don't have any nostalgic feelings about any particular place. Ukraine was a long time ago, a time of blackness, pure blackness. I prefer to focus on the now. Nostalgia is the mind playing tricks on you. The 'good old days' are better when you are living them right now."
Gogol Bordello will perform 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, and 7:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12, at the Culture Room, 3045 N. Federal Highway, in Fort Lauderdale. Admission is $36.70. Call 954-564-1074 or go to CultureRoom.net.