Eugene Hütz, of the gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello, is a world traveler, but he wasn’t ready for this winter’s cold in the Northeast.
The band convened in Vermont a few weeks ago to rehearse for the tour that will bring them to The House of Blues Friday night, which for Hütz meant leaving Carnaval and Rio De Janeiro, his home for the last six years.
“I was born and raised in this kind of climate, but now I don’t connect to it,” he said recently by phone. “I became a tropical man.”
Hütz began his journeys in the Ukraine, where he fell in love with punk rock as a young teen in Kiev.
Fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 1986 forced his family to flee, and he spent the next five years traveling around Europe with his grandmother’s Gypsy family, before they eventually settled in Burlington, Vermont, where he learned English from Johnny Cash and Leonard Cohen records.
He folded all of his experiences — musical and otherwise — into Gogol Bordello, music that doesn’t recognize cultural or geopolitical borders.
For more than a decade, the band has used punk’s rebellious energy as a starting point and folded in Balkan folk, gypsy music, reggae and recently, Latin rhythms since Hütz moved to Brazil.
The band’s “Pura Vida Conspiracy,” released in 2013, is a blueprint for an exhilarating concert — heavy on high-energy anthems — as well as a satisfying listening experience, something that hasn’t always been the case.
Hütz sings with some tenderness about being “born with a singing heart” on “Malandrino” but not at the expense of a political edge.
“Life is beautiful gift, boy,” he remembers one midwife saying in the song. “Other one said, ‘government loan.’ ”
It’s tempting to think of Gogol Bordello primarily in terms of immigration politics. Its lineup is international, and the song “Immigraniada (We’re Coming Rougher)” presents the inevitability of a multicultural future.
“You can’t really stop this process of world citizenship; there’s nothing you can do about it,” Hütz told Mother Jones Magazine in 2011.
But Hütz’s vision can’t be defined so simply.
Years of travel, investigations of cultures and martial arts training opened his mind to zen ways of thinking that transcend a country’s politics.
“The Eastern way of looking at things is so much closer to liberating yourself from egoic programs and so much more closely tied to actually being in this world,” Hütz said. “Not thinking that you’re being but actually being here.”
His focus on the elements that liberate people makes Hütz suspicious of culture as a force that divides. Still, he loves New Orleans.
“New Orleans is not a place that is compartmentalized,” he said.
“That’s why it’s a place that is still rambunctious with music. The music is still serving its original purpose there — a communal ritual of unification.”
He loves Brazil for similar reasons.
“I gel with people who you don’t need to pull by their hair to get them in a good mood,” Hütz said. “They’re not not wallowing in their suffering. There’s zero meaning in that. It has nothing to do with spirited well-being.”
A sense of “spirited well-being” runs through Gogol Bordello’s music, and it certainly animates Hütz’s careening performances, which celebrate his own physicality.
“Before I called Gogol Bordello ‘gypsy punk,’ I described it as ‘Mixed Musical Martial Arts — MMMA,’” he said. “Gogol Bordello is like musical kung fu.”