Herbert Bail Orchestra

Premiere: Herbert Bail Orchestra “Gavrilo”

Aug 16, 2018

You got to love when an artist takes the question of what went into a song and just runs with it. Herbert Bail Orchestra's Anthony Frattolillo tells of the history lesson at the core of "Gravilo" from the L.A. indie-folk outfit's sophomore LP History's Made At Night, out September 28Under the Radar has the premiere of the new song, which is more than meets the ear, something it does nicely: 

Gavrilo is about an intimate coincidence that changed the world. It’s about fate and destiny, and what the difference is between the two. Gavrilo Princip was a 19 year old Bosnian Serb who assassinated the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand and his wife, which in turn sparked the beginning of World War I. It’s a story I learned in History class, but never knew the whole thing – the mere fluke that spun our world into the Great War. Gavrilo had actually given up on his assassination attempt, and as I sing about in the song “Crosstown he went to drown / And it was in his sorrow he looked up by chance and found / The Duke and the Duchess caught up broke down / So he walked up took a couple shots and sealed his gold footprint.” It’s a true story. The Duke’s chauffeur was driving an old stick and it stalled right in front of a café where Gavrilo just happened to be sitting after he had already tried and failed at the assassination.  

To be completely honest, I wrote the lyrics to the song in one sitting right after I finished listening to the seminal podcast series Hardcore History by Dan Carlin and an episode called “Blueprint for Armageddon Part I” in which Carlin beautifully weaves together the events that transpired on that fateful April day in 1918. Go listen to it! That’s the inspiration behind this track.

Sonically speaking, I sat down to put the words to guitar and it started off as a kind of slow, melodic blues-folk ballad in A minor, but when I brought it to the group, our drummer Michael Villiers put this kind of tribal-staccato beat to what I was playing, and it changed the intention. Our bassist Andrew Narvaez reinforced that vibe. I felt like people could absorb the story, but now also dance to it. Then Katz started playing the accordion and we bumped it up the D Minor – and it was clear what we needed to do in the service of the song. It harkens back to what I guess people have always loved about Herbert Bail- that “gypsy-folk” Balkan vibe we tie into our blend of American folk rock and blues. The final touches were made with the flourishes of Colin Warling’s psychedelic keyboard swirls and brother Stevie Weinstein Foner’s perfected guitar fills. I just had to say one thing to Stevie, “Jockey it” and he knew exactly what I was talking about. Not to mention it’s a story about a young man that’s not so unlike Herbert Bail in the end- a murderer to some, and a martyr to others. 

Produced by Chris Rondinella (Levon Helm, Sara Watkins) and Seth Olansky (Best Coast), History's Made At Night is an "11-track collection of heartland indie-folk that marks a departure from the group's 'gypsy-folk' roots."

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