SLEEPYTIME GORILLA MUSEUM, SKELETON KEY
Crocodile Cafe, 206-441-5611, $10
9 p.m. Sat., Dec. 14
"IT'S NOT ENOUGH to play music anymore. You have to stand for something," insists Gino Yevdjevich of Seattle gypsy-punk band, Kultur Shock. But when over half your eight members aren't American and your most recent CD is called FUCC the I.N.S., you're obviously not afraid of putting it on the line.
The band started five years ago, when Yevdjevich, a well-known musician in his native Bosnia, escaped the war, coming to the U.S. under the sponsorship of Joan Baez.
"My friends were being killed by snipers," he recalls. "Five some days, 10 others."
Settling in Seattle, he worked on Behind's God Back, a play about his experiences in Bosnia, "but none of it was extreme enough. People here wanted their art as art, not real." His response was to start Kultur Shock five years ago, initially as an acoustic group playing mostly traditional music. They soon morphed into an electric band, releasing Kultur Shock Live in Amerika and adding members from elsewhere in the Balkans, Japan, and the U.S., including avant-garde icon Amy Denio.
They were quickly signed by Faith No More's Billy Gould, who also produced FUCC the I.N.S. for his Kool Arrow label.
"The music is totally folk, but we're a rock band," explains Yevdjevich. "Call it world punk—it's very aggressive, hardcore world music. Its roots are in gypsy music. And we have a lot of Middle Eastern flavor, but that's what they played in our hometowns." It's a good analogy; the record sounds as if someone parachuted the Clash into the Balkans, only for them to emerge a few years later with a mad village band behind them.
The album has earned global acclaim, enough for Kultur Shock to take their act to Europe after their upcoming gig at the Crocodile Cafe. There they'll play clubs and festivals in Spain for a month, opening for the likes of Afro Celt Sound System, and their schedule already includes two further European trips during 2003.
"Spain is very multicultural, and I'm very happy we're going to a left-wing country," Yevdjevich says. "People over there are already asking us questions about politics, about Bush. It's important for us to declare ourselves. I've seen war before; it's not pretty, it's not television."
On their return they'll begin recording a new album, hopefully to be released next summer, although "it's still touchy where we're going to go with it," says Yevdjevich. "We've got eight songs. But we really don't give a fuck about being rock stars. We just want music—and social justice."