Due April 27, "Trans-Continental Hustle" was recorded in a three-month period last spring when the entire band took up residence at Rubin's Malibu, Calif., estate and the nearby Document Room studio. The band is now picking up on the road exactly where it left off after ending the lengthy tour behind "Super Taranta," its 2008 SideOneDummy release that saw Gogol Bordello grow into not just a club- and theater-filling act but a festival headliner too-it played Coachella in 2007 and 2008, graduating from the Mojave tent to the main stage; both Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza in 2008; and was one of the top-billed bands at 2009's All Points West in New Jersey.
"This band has been all over North America, South America, Europe, Asia and Australia," says Val Wolfe, one of Gogol's two longtime booking agents at the Agency Group. "We're going to see the band continue to expand the regions in which they can tour, and in the places they've already been to they're going to do bigger and better things." Wolfe is still mapping out the band's 2010-11 itinerary, but has already confirmed an Australian trip, two weeks of East Coast dates in April and five weeks in Europe in May and June. This year's tour is dubbed Casa Gogol, and the group is bringing along like-minded acts like DeVotchKa, Forro in the Dark, Jesse Malin and Mariachi el Bronx.
Patrick Jordan, the band's manager at Red Light, concurs. "I've never seen a band that works as hard as Gogol Bordello," he says, "and we work with a lot of very hardworking, focused acts who thrive on the road. But these guys are completely tireless."
"Hustle" is certainly a major leap forward from 2005's "Gypsy Punks," Gogol's best-selling release to date (107,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan) that includes the band's most anthemic song, "Start Wearing Purple," and concert staples like "Immigrant Punk," "Not a Crime" and "Undestructable." That album crystallized the "gypsy punk" aesthetic that the band had been cultivating since releasing its first single in 1999 and performing weekly at the downtown Manhattan dive know affectionately as the Bulgarian Disco. Lyrically, Hütz repeatedly returned to the themes of humiliation, discrimination and fear that are often the hallmarks of the immigrant experience. Musically, the ever-expanding band took the gypsy-folk traditions of Eastern Europe, Hütz's cantor-like approach to singing, and the minor-key accordion and violin that dominates dancehalls from Mexico City to Moldova, burning them up at a punk-rock tempo.
What sets "Hustle" apart from Gogol Bordello's previous work is the newfound spirituality in Hütz's lyrics, in which he's able to move past the traumas of immigration to take on subjects like broken hearts, long-distance romance, nomadic souls and death. Underneath it all is a newly sharpened rhythmic base, liberally incorporating the Brazilian beats Hütz picked up in Rio, played with Carnival precision by Gogol Bordello's newest musician Oliver Charles, a third-generation Trinidadian drummer who was a longtime member of Ben Harper's Innocent Criminals.
"You know you're doing something right when you've got Rick Rubin jumping up and down on the couch," he says with a laugh. In fact, for Hütz, Rubin was the sole reason for signing with American and putting his music in Sony's hands.
"I signed with Rick," he says. "I signed with American. The rest comes with that. Our deal is very independent. I came far too long a way to do something as funky as a 360 deal. We're not losing anything. Right now everything is so upside down in the business, it's like, indie or major, it doesn't matter."