Much of the band's sound is inspired by Gypsy music. The band incorporates minor-key accordion and violin (and on some albums, saxophone) mixed with punk and dub.
"Gogol" comes from the name Nikolai Gogol. As one of the most influential writers in Russian and Ukrainian literature, Gogol paved the way for the likes of Kafka and Dostoevsky. He also serves as an ideological influence for the band because he "smuggled" Ukrainian culture into Russian society, which Gogol Bordello intends to do with Gypsy/ East-European music in the English-speaking world. "Bordello", in Italian, refers to a brothel or a "gentleman's club". The band was originally titled Hütz and the Béla Bartóks, but Eugene Hütz says that they decided to change the name because "nobody knows who the hell Béla Bartók is in the United States". The band played their first show as the unofficial band at an after-hours club called Pizdetz where they became the house band and DJ Hütz became the house DJ.
Gogol Bordello's first single was released in 1999, and since then they have released five full-length albums, and one EP. In 2005 the band signed to punk label SideOneDummy Records. On 27 April 2010 Gogol Bordello made its major record label debut with Transcontinental Hustle on Rick Rubin's American Recordings, a subsidiary of Columbia Records/Sony Music Entertainment. The band has toured tirelessly throughout Europe and America. They have made appearances at numerous international festivals and toured with such diverse bands as Primus, Flogging Molly, and Cake. In an interview with NPR, frontman Eugene Hütz cites Jimi Hendrix and Parliament-Funkadelic as among the band's main musical influences. They have mentioned Manu Chao, Fugazi, Zvuki Mu, Karamelo Santo, Sasha Kolpakov and The Clash as influences as well.
On 6 June 2010, Gogol Bordello supported Rage Against the Machine at their gig in Finsbury Park, London and on 8 June at the 02 in Dublin.
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