Oingo Boingo

by James Bonisteel
(c) Rational Alternative Digital, 1996
Source: http://www.radcyberzine.com/text/interviews/boingo.int.3d.html
At last it was nice to see the horns back on stage with Oingo Boingo reunited with the band. Too bad it had to be the on the last tour for this band. If you ever had a chance to see this band, especially doing their Famous halloween shows, then you know what I am talking about. To me this band is not Oingo Boingo without some kind of horn section. I have said this about only a few bands in the past but this is one of them. If you have never seen an Oingo Boingo show, then you have seriously missed something in your childhood. I had the opportunity to actually talk to John Avila, one of the guitarists for Oingo Boingo, and we had a chat about the band in general and it's future and this is how it went....
RAD: How long do you intend to play tonight?
John: We're averaging close to three hours per show three hours plus we're trying different songs out on different nights. But we want to give a little bit of everything, some of the older stuff and some songs we haven't played in a long time. And we're doing some new stuff...just a little bit of everything.
RAD: So you have the original horn section back, right?
John: Yes the horns are back it's great havings are back it's great having them back. It's like the old band back together and the feelings have been very good.
RAD: Why have you decided to break up finally after all these years? Is it just for the fact that you have been around this long?
John: We just came to this decision that it was time to do it and if any band has ever given it's all to be together seventeen years, I mean just keep doing it year after year even after people said that it wasn't happening anymore. There were so many rumors in the past about us breaking up, but we would always be back doing another show. This time we decided on our own that this was going to be the time. So we're doing it.
RAD: So, what are you going to be doing after this?
John: Well obviously Danny Elfman has his film composing career. He's also getting into writing, developing scripts, and he's also going into directing. Steve Bartek is doing about the same thing as far as composing for films and producing other bands. And myself, I've been producing for the last year and a half. Other projects I have done--a couple of albums with some east coast bands. I just did a band called Sorry About Your Daughter who are from Washington D.C. I just produced their second album and I plan on doing that and keep performing. I have a few bands in L.A. I love playing with and we have been doing shows. Johnny "Vatos" Hernandez also plans to continue playing with a coith a couple other bands. We have Warren Fitzgerald who plays with the Vandals he's the guitar player for them.
RAD: With Alternative music, do you think it's different than what it was before?
John: Personally, I became even more of a fan of just the whole music scene in the last four or five years when guitars, bass and drums all came back into the front of the stage. Not to put synthesizers down, but the sound of a thrashing guitar, the real sound of an amp--I just love that. Melodies are getting more and more interesting. I think it's a good time.
RAD: Are you going to be doing anything more with Food For Feet?
John: Food For Feet we broke up about three years ago. There are no plans for us to get back together. We were asked to play for a mutual friend of ours amongst a bunch of other bands that played, including Motley Crue and Billy Idol. We're all friends of this guitar tech who's daughter died, so we did a benefit for him and Food For Feet got together and did a show this year in Pasadena. It was so much fun, because we haven't played together in years so we never rehearsed and we went up without knowing what we were going to play but it was like we had just gotten off tour the day before. I guess when a band's been together that long, sparks just start to fly and we knocked them dead. It was like the good ol' days.
RAD: So how was Food For Feet originat originally put together?
John: That was actually Mike the guitar player and myself. We were touring with this german rock band and while we were there playing, we just said, "hey, when we get back to L.A., let's put this band together." We thought of it as being a trio. We went back to L.A. and did it. We used a couple of drummers before we got to Vatos. When Vatos joined the band and he stuck, and we were together about eight or nine years. It was kind of an musicians band. I remember that many musicians used to come and hang out with us and it was a fun band.
RAD: Out of all the songs that you are going to play tonight, which one would you consider to be your favorite?
John: Wow that's a tough one we do so many songs. We're doing over thirty songs per night. "Dead Man's Party" has always been kind of a special song. It was the first album I joined on and to this day, the reaction is as great as it ever was when we played it ten years ago. That's just one song that stands out. As far as performing songs, some of the old stuff that I never played is nice because it's new to me. I am really having a good time playing those songs. The song "Change" is one song that I really like performing because it never sounds the same way twice and it has this psychedelic vibe to it, it's just really fun to play.
RAD: Where did the name "Oingo Boingo" originally come from?
John: It was originally "The Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo" before they were a rock band for a number of years. Before that back to around 1975 they were a live theatrical group. They did like 1930's orchestral kind of like 30's jazz. The name came from Danny Elfman's brother, Rick Elfman, who originally came up with the name--as far as I know that is where it comes from. I do know, though, that once I was in an elevator with these Japanese businessmen and the name Oingo Boingo came up and they were giggling. I said, "What's so funny?" In japanese it has something to do with large breasts.
RAD: Why did you want to stop in Salt Lake on this tour?
John: Salt Lake was a surprise Boingo town. When we first came here, we didn't know what kind of audience or how the reaction to us playing here would be. We were so surprised what a Boingo town this is. The people here have been more than enthusiastic and we have always felt a very warm feeling for Salt Lake. Since then, this was one of the prime stops we wanted to play on this tour.
RAD: Considering how long you have been doing this, if anybody was to ever ask you about being in this business what would you say to them?
John: I would say that if you're doing it for the money, don't do it. You have to do it for the love of the music itself. It has to be right up there with sex and food--the stuff that you really like. The music hasic has to effect you in that sort of way. I mean that hard. If it does hit you that much, then I would say go for it. And after that, I would say a lot of practice and a lot of discipline. You need to love what you do and you have to play from your heart. If you do it for those reasons, then all the money and all the success that hopefully will come to you will happen. After seeing this show, I realized that it was one of the best live shows that I have ever seen. They played for three hours--the old and new stuff. Well good luck to this band. I have a feeling that this will not be the last time we ever hear their names. This is hard to say but, GOODBYE OINGO BOINGO!! Thanks for the past."
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