Posted: July 15th, 2009
"I don’t dance period"
Interview by Tegan Quin | Photo by Byrnes
I figure Eliot Ferguson —the drummer of Gogol Bordello—will forgive me for having never done an interview and asking irrelevant questions and potentially wasting 30 minutes of his time, since we’re best friends (or so he says.) I’m a girl in a five-piece rock band, he’s a boy in a nine-piece gypsy punk band… It’s gonna be great. I ask to meet Eliot at Rockefeller Square to go ice-skating. It’s a sure-fire way to catch him off guard.
Eliot, what’s it like being in a band with your sister?
You know, it’s sometimes a little close to home.
Glad we got that out of the way. When you’re on stage and people yell for you to take off your shirt, what do you say? What do you feel back there behind the drum kit?
I say at least wait until the third song when I’m nice and sweaty.
Do you play music for spiritual reasons or financial reasons?
Oh, it definitely has nothing to do with finance.
Many bands are out for fame and fortune. What do you think?
We do it because we love the music, and we love to play. It’s an added bonus that we have fans who like our music.
We hired a guy to do monitors recently and he left the tour half-way through saying I was “HTWF,” which means hard to work for. Are you guys hard to work for?
We’re always looking for the right team members. Now we’re honing in on those people. So, yeah, we have gone through a number of people.
Why don’t you have a mustache?
I can grow one, but it looks like something out of Starsky and Hutch.
Does it bother you when people call you “the drummer”?
If they even recognize me as the drummer in the band I feel like it’s made my day, because 90-percent of the time I get off the stage and people don’t even realize that I was up there.
Tell me why you joined the band.
I had just come from playing with bands in Southern California, and we were not really successful. I lost a lot of friends that I was really close to, because the people in the band lost sight of what the music was about and started getting caught up in the business part of the industry—the who-wrote-what, what-publishing-goes-where stuff.
So what happens after these next few months of touring?
Time off means two months off.
What are you going to do? Do you ballroom dance?
I don’t dance period, but I’m thinking of taking dancing lessons.
As a drummer who does not dance… Are you not supposed to have unbelievable rhythm? Probably most drummers do have unbelievable rhythm, but I’m going to be humble and say I don’t.
Even without success, did you feel secure with your choice to play music five years ago when you were not as successful? Do success and validation and self-esteem all come hand in hand? Did you feel like what you were doing was meaningful?
The band for me has always been something special; that’s why I joined. I saw Eugene at a party playing on a stool and he was so passionate. He had two other guys with him, but it was simple. I had just come from—as I said—this California drama, like straight out of 90210, and I had lost a lot of friends. And then here is this guy sitting there playing, and really he was all about the music, and there seemed to be no drama. I was like, “You know, I want to play music just for the sake of playing music.” So for me, it was very special from the beginning. And probably the most special thing about the band is that’s it been real organic. We haven’t blown up; it’s been a steady, hard-working eight years.
Why should I be your best friend?
Because I am awesome. That’s only one thing. Two more things. I have amazing rhythm and I am an incredible ice skater.
Download Gogol Bordello songs or albums from the iTunes store here or check their myspace for upcoming shows.
9/25/2020After millions of album sales since the mid-90s, Third Eye Blind frontman Stephan Jenkins continues to make music without compromise or concern about radio hits and pop charts. He features Cher Strauberry in his newest video and she sat with him for an interview.
9/25/2020Chris Russell gets sacrificed onstage with Gwar for their Creature collab. Get a board with some gore, you maggots.
9/25/2020Not many musical acts bridge the gap between hip-hop's "Golden Era" and those who seek fresh new sounds. Run The Jewels stands tall over this divide. Killer Mike and El-P already each had a rich legacy and their combined forces have produced something unique.
9/25/2020The Shrine’s raw new music vid pushes back on the American Dream in LA and helps give funds to protestors for legal aid. Bump this on your next bowl session.
9/25/2020Hacksaw's music is not here for your enjoyment. It exists to pummel you into submission. We caught up with these heavy noise makers, but we were particularly curious about guitarist/skater Mike Hell's perspective and ethics of eating garbage straight from the can.
9/25/2020Musical act Cobra Man was conceived from the fire of skate videos but it has now grown into its own groovy, dance-music monster. The band's DNA is shared with the skate pscyhos over at Worble and their tunes are hot and heavy throughout the new vid Party Destroyer.
9/25/2020Blending genres of different musical eras, Sophie Allison AKA "Soccer Mommy" has crafted her own unique sound. She's a true songwriter and Atiba Jefferson had the honor of directing her latest video which, of course, involves skating.
9/25/2020Selling 85 million albums worldwide is quite an accomplishment. But Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament has another epic legacy. He has been pivotal in getting skateparks built in underserved rural areas including many Native American reservations. Here he talks about his roots in music and skating.
9/25/2020If you’re near the Netherlands this month, make sure you get over to Skatepark Noord’s Grind and Slam event for a damn good time skating and circle-pitting to Vitamin X and Kaak. Check the crucial details on the flyer and learn the 24-hour clock while you’re at it.
9/25/2020As many of you know, on March 6th the City of Austin issued a disaster declaration, cancelling SXSW in light of concerns relating to the COVID-19 virus. As a result, the Death Match on March 19-21 has been cancelled.