Les Claypool and Eugene Hütz (Gogo Bordello) recruited an all-star cast of musicians for a tribute to Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky, “The Man With The Iron Balls”. Out now, the fundraising single features Billy Strings, Stewart Copeland, Sean Lennon, and Hütz’s Gogo Bordello bandmate Sergey Ryabtsev.
“As soon as Russian aggression broke out, Les and I connected to address the catastrophe ASAP,” Ukrainian-born Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hütz told Rolling Stone. “We jumped on creating affirmative music that calls for unity and pays respect to the real doers in Ukrainian defense, such as President Zelensky, who demonstrated previously unheard of stamina and heroism.”
“Zelensky: The Man With the Iron Balls” combines Gogo Bordello’s gypsy punk stylings with Claypool’s all-around weirdness. Together, they create an underground anthem that makes following international affairs an act of defiance. “When the big bear comes a-prowling / seeking more than his share / Will you protect all you cherish / or come out with your hands in the air?” the song begins by asking.
“We now have a recording to help rally support for a bullied country, and a David versus Goliath-type man who stood up for their liberty, freedom, and homeland,” the Primus bassist said. “[We’re] giving praise to a man who stepped up for his people beyond anything I’ve seen in my tenure on this planet. This unlikely fellow has grabbed the reins of leadership and held fast in such a way that the world is now galvanized in support.”
Behind Claypool and Hütz is a We Are The World level of contemporary talent, with Claypool’s Oysterhead bandmate Stewart Copeland on drums, his Lennon-Claypool Delirium partner Sean Lennon contributing vocals and guitar, his new pal Billy Strings on acoustic guitar, and Hütz’s Russian-born bandmate Sergey Ryabstev on fiddle.
Claypool told Rolling Stone he learned of the Russian invasion while eating with some Polish friends before he decided to contact Hütz to work on a song.
“In that vodka-laced dialogue, we started mutually praising Zelensky for his surprisingly epic display of courage,” Claypool said. “‘Zelensky has balls of steel!’ we agreed. It was then that we decided that some freaky ‘East meets West’ art needed to be thrown that way.”
All proceeds will benefit Nova Ukraine, a nonprofit organization that provides humanitarian relief to the people of Ukraine.
“It is our way to show that heavyweights like Les, Stewart, Billy, and Sean stand with the people of Ukraine and the country’s sovereignty from the very start of Russian-led terror,” Hütz said.
Listen to “Zelensky: The Man With the Iron Balls” featuring Les Claypool, Eugene Hütz, Billy Strings, Stewart Copeland, Sean Lennon, and Sergey Ryabtsev via the player below and consider donating to Nova Ukraine to help the people of Ukraine.
Les Claypool, Eugene Hütz, Billy Strings, Stewart Copeland, Sean Lennon, Sergey Ryabtsev – “Zelensky: The Man With the Iron Balls”
The video’s description also asks fans to participate,
To show your support for Ukraine, please send in video clips of you, your friends, colleagues, children, pets, favorite ventriloquist dummy, or anything else you may deem appropriate or wonderfully inventive, clapping along to the song, “Zelensky: The Man With The Iron Balls.”
It doesn’t have to be high production — just use your phone, video camera, or old Bolex, send the footage to firstname.lastname@example.org. Let the world know that you will no longer stand for this rampant “bully mentality”, and that you support the man and people who refuse to let their liberties be undermined.