Long Beach Press-Telegram article

Tuesday, October 31, 1995

Typed in by ElizOz@aol.com.


Music: Oingo calls it quits after a Halloween show

By Amy Dawes
Los Angeles Daily News

"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 albums.

And what should the band's fanatic followers -- who often attend the annual Halloween shows in costume -- expect 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 Christmas".

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."

Amicable breakup:

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 Halloween -- it'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."

No dinosaur:

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."

From the Fan Supported Boingo Page