Interview: Herbert Bail Orchestra

Hi guys, introduce yourself to us. 
Herbert Bail is a collective alter ego for a sometimes ten strong band, with members hailing from all over different parts of the US. Now based in downtown LA. Lead by A.Frattolillo on the mic and acoustic guitar, and A.Katz on accordion and trombone. Herbert likes to think of himself as creating musical narratives that are epic tales. It’s an eclectic sound with keys, backup vocals & harmonies, violin and viola, trumpet, banjo, bass, percussion, and a little electric guitar now and then. It’s been said that Herbert Bail is a gypsy-revival act…from the depths of the American indie folk movement…a campfire tale…darkly beautiful…a danceable Wild West showdown…carving out myths of its own. But in the end, there are no single truths and we all lead many lives. Herbert Bail thanks you in advance for your thoughtful questions.

"All the chances we don't take, they haunt us when we lie awake. That's the way it goes." Why don't people take more chances? 
Good question. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. We are partly defined by the choices, chances and risks we take and make. But people get comfy. They’re not hungry. They don’t take as many chances. And you gotta’ get hurt, be burned or struggle to grow or change. So  (strictly metaphorically speaking) get your hands or your heart cut off or cut out, and you’ll get stronger. To die and grow ya know. Why don’t people take risks? Because they don’t want to face the consequences. But that’s what life’s about right- it’s a sacrifice. Destruction and consecration. And maybe that’s partly what ‘Nobody Knows’ is about.

"The Future's In The Past"- that is so true. Most people see the past as a nostalgic place, when everything was great and pure. Of course, this is far from real. How do you see the past and why is it important to you?  
Herbert Bail released his first full-length album on the day the world was supposed to end. Simply put, the album title could reflect the idea about how the lessons of the past lay the foundation for the future. And that’s why the past could be important. But there are other possible meanings that are not as permanent or agreeable. Carlos Feuntes said, “We imagine the past and remember the future.” Positing perhaps that we experience both the past and the future in the present moment. Meaning that maybe the past is an equal to the future, and we experience life linearly, but it’s really much more complex than that. Cultural anthropologist Dr. Bob Deutsch says, “The future has an ancient heart.” So again, one thinks of the past informing the future and vice versa.  The thing about the album title is it’s not supposed to have one meaning. It’s meant to create a dialogue about how we see the past and why it’s important. So thank you for asking. And to try to clearly answer your question: Herbert Bail sees the past as a romantic notion, as you said a - nostalgic place, carried forward by memory and myth. We’re trying to draw out that meaning for people to see. And perhaps that’s the importance and purpose of the past - to trick and treat us.

How do you decide to use an element from the past in your music? What is it about that element that speaks to you? 
Herbert understands what you mean, but it’s not a conscious decision to use elements from the past in the music. It just happens to be that way for us. We don’t sit down to write a song with as much intention as intuition. K. Beachum says our music is “slightly anachronistic” and maybe that points to how we feel about the past, history and chronology it self. Though we will admit to drinking heavily at a very young age from the likes of Muddy Waters, and watching too many John Ford and Sergio Leone films.  Perhaps those are the elements we draw from and that speak to us, things inside and outside music that were made or take place in the past.

You are based in L.A., the place everyone in show business wants to be. How difficult is it for a band to make it in L.A.? 
It seems there’s no more gold at the end of the rainbow these days with album sales or big record deals. It’s all about doing it your self. And LA is a great place for that DIY mentality. Maybe it’s just the ardent sun, but everyone’s really motivated here and doing something creative. It’s certainly harder to rise above all the noise, but there’s also more opportunities. Herbert Bail will let you know how difficult it was when we make it. In the meantime, it’s all about the journey, and we hope it never ends. 

What is the nicest thing that anyone has told you about your music. 
It’s the meaningful questions people ask that are the nicest things. Like these questions you’ve asked us here, or stopping and having a conversation with an audience member after a show. We participate together in this kind of ritual of theater and performance and this musical phenomenon. Herbert Bail can’t distill it down to one single thing that was the nicest thing anyone has ever told us. Though someone once sent us a video clip of there 11 month old baby dancing to our song 'Holy Smokes' and that was really uplifting. Herbert Bail wishes we could test all our music on children, because they truly live in the present and recognize a good song. Adults are too busy thinking about the past and the future. 

Name one thing in life that isn't negotiable.
Death… maybe… And life, and love, and sex, and birth, and change. Oh and food too. Definitely food. Loving is just like eating, you can go without it for a little while but sooner or later you’re gonna’ have to eat something.

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