Dead man's party' is over
'Music: Oingo calls it quits after a Halloween show'
by Amy Dawes
Los Angeles Daily News, 1995.10.31
"Dead Man's Very Last Party?" "Boingo Dead on Halloween?"
A Southern California pop music tradition is about to die, and
Oingo Boingo front man Danny Elfman is joking about possible titles
for the live album the band plans to record during its final concert
Halloween night at the Universal Amphitheatre.
Tonight's performance is the last of four sold-out shows there
that will mark the end of the band's career after 17 years and 11
And what should the band's fanatic followerswho often attend
the annual Halloween shows in costumeexpect at the farewell concert?
"A long, exhausting show with losts of songs and the same cheap
tricks we've been dragging out on stage ever since we started,"
Elfman said drolly.
It's not as if Elfman, 42, wouldn't have the money to invest.
During the past 10 years, he's led an unusual double life. On the one
hand, he fronts a band whose frenetic dance music and wild stage
antics appeal mostly to teens; on the other hand, he has become one
of the busiest orchestral composers in the movie world.
Current hit films Elfman has scored include To Die For
and Dead Presidents, as well as the theme music for Fox TV's The Simpsons.
He's best-known for his association with director Tim Burton,
for whom he scored "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure", "Beetlejuice", the Grammy-winning
Batman soundtrack, Edward Scissorhands and The Nightmare Before
That relationship has ended, and Elfman says it's over for good.
"It was personal. I haven't spoken to him in a couple of years, and I
don't expect I ever will again."
The breakup of Oingo Boingo, on the other hand, is far more
amicable. "We've been thinking about laying it to rest for the last
four or five years. We decided to make a nice clean break, give our
fans a chance to say goodbye and give us a chance to say goodbye to
them," Elfman said. "I think it's a miracle when a band makes it more
than a decade, especially a big, nutty group like us."
Indeed, Oingo Boingo has been hard to classify. Spun off in the
late '70s from the Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, a traveling
performance-art troupe that Elfman's brother, Rick, had drafted him
into, Oingo Boingo mixed the energy of the era's punk-rock music with
ironic, angst-filled lyrics and an eclectic mix of horns, xylophones,
synthesizers, ska, reggae and West African beats.
Never big on a national scale, the band took off in Southern
California with the support of radio station KROQ-FM and disc jockey
Jed the Fish, who played "Only a Lad" incessantly.
The band's Day of the Dead imagery and its traditional Halloween
concerts came about almost by accident, says Elfman. "I just always loved Halloweenit's
a chance to let your imagination go and be someone else, and our concerts just
happened to get scheduled at that time, and it all came together with our imagery
and made sense."
A graduate of University High in West Los Angeles, Elfman grew
up in Baldwin Hills, where he claims he spent nearly every weekend at the movies,
keenly attuned to the styles of various composers. His oddball passion paid
off years later, when fledgling film director Tim Burton approached Elfman about
creating a score for a movie version of the popular TV show Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
For the past several years, Elfman has been writing screenplays,
and one of them, titled Little Demons, appears headed for production
at New Line, with Elfman attached to direct.
But while he seeks new directions, the fans remain remarkably
loyal. Doesn't that make Elfman want to change his mind?
"Not really," he said. "There's the risk of the dinosaur factor
kicking in. In short, it's been fun."