The Idiot King
01 American Jingo
02 Any Unforeseen Event
03 The Risk Of Failure
04 Low Voter Turnout
05 Unclear, Inarticulate Things
07 My Fellow Astronauts
09 The Killers Are To Blame
10 Nightmare On 48th St
11 Public Speaking Is Very Easy
Other Releases From ATTENTION DEFICIT
Other Releases with Alex Skolnick
Other Releases with Tim Alexander
The Idiot King
Alex Skolnick – Electric and Acoustic Guitars
Michael Manring - Four, Six and Ten-String Basses, Loops
Tim Alexander – Drums and Percussion
On The Idiot King, Manring, Alexander and Skolnick build on the foundation of their debut, 1998's Attention Deficit, bringing a level of maturity into the songwriting on this sophomore release. Each has brought with him the experience of working on other projects; Michael Manring's constant solo touring, Alex Skolnick's new found interest in pursuing more jazz and fusion in his new home of New York City, and Tim Alexander's continued explorations into rhythm. The feel of The Idiot King rings like an updated version of those great Italian horror soundtracks of the seventies. Intense, atmospheric bass and guitar over the shifting backbeat of drums. Recalling an era of experimentation, when the boundaries between jazz and rock didn't really matter.
Michael Manring (Michael Hedges) first pulled Tim Alexander (Primus) and Alex Skolnick (Testament) together on his 1994 solo project Thonk. The mixture of Michael's quirky bass work, Tim's complex rhythms and Alex's new found interest in adding jazz and fusion to his extreme metal guitar sounds, jelled well. The three musicians joined forces as a group for 1998's self-titled Attention Deficit release on Magna Carta. The mixture of these three monster musicians produced an album best described as electric improv, jazz metal, prog rock. Attention Deficit recalls sublime, new agey free-for Zappa, spacey shred, and the most convoluted and nightmarish parts of King Crimson, all spiced with a hint of the tribal.
"I guess I take the blame for this. I first hired the other two guys to play on my solo record Thonk, says Michael. "I wanted musicians who were original, musically sophisticated but able to play on a very visceral level. Alex and Tim were just right and fortunately they both lived in the Bay Area. I'm really glad that Magna Carta has given us the chance to work together more."
"I'd say it worked pretty well right away. There are big differences in our musical backgrounds, but that actually often seems to work in our favor. For instance, Alex and I are both big fans of Pat Metheny's record Bright Size Life. That's the kind of sound we were thinking of when we recorded the tune "Any Unforeseen Event", but Tim has never heard that record so he was coming from a different place and I really like how he approached it. I think that diversity gives us the ability to try to create new sounds rather than just imitate."
Why the name Attention Deficit?
"It's difficult to put into words, but I'd say that the name sort of comes from looking at the culture we live in how everything is moving so quickly and there isn't much depth or focus on anything. The band was formed to do a lot of improvisation and record very quickly, so I guess we're trying to take that idea and make something cool happen. If you can't beat 'em..."
What was running through your minds when creating The Idiot King? I notice a lot of references to the recent election and all the hoopla following it.
"That was a big part of it. We were composing and recording as that whole mess was going on and it was really kind of a surreal atmosphere. It seems like that was a very poignant moment in American history although I'm not sure if people were really paying attention. It kind of ties into that whole commentary the attention, or lack of it, in our society."
Now for the age-old question: influences, who are they, how were they pulled together.
"Youch, that's a big one. I'm sure you'd get a long list from each one of us. During this record specifically, I seem to remember talking about Frank Zappa, King Crimson, John Coltrane, Led Zeppelin, Meshuggah, Tarika Sammy, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Pat Metheny, Selif Keita, Mike Stern, L. Subramanium, Ornette Coleman, Black Sabbath, Paolo Angeli, Wayne Krantz, Weather Report, John Cage and of course, Al Gore and George Bush! I think we're just trying to make sense of what's going on around us. We'd like to draw together all of our influences and try to make music that has some meaning in the context of these times.
"One of the nice things about instrumental music is that it isn't so literal. I think everyone is going to come away with a different interpretation of how these influences work themselves into the mix. Sometimes it's nice to communicate in a way that is more open."