Danny Elfman Scores Big

“I never can get away from Halloween.”


Danny Elfman was the frontman for the oddball new wave band Oingo Boingo, and he has also scored enough movie and TV shows to put him in the company of such soundtrack giants as John Williams, Ennio Morricone, and Rachel Portman. As music critic Brett Callwood points out in the introduction to a recent interview, Elfman “had kept those two sides of his career very separate, until earlier this year when he performed the two weekends of the Coachella Festival and performed a set that stunned not only the people in attendance, but also the many thousands that watched it online. Beloved Boingo gems such as ‘Dead Man’s Party’ were performed alongside songs and scores from Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman ReturnsEdward ScissorhandsThe Nightmare Before ChristmasAlice in Wonderland, Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man, and of course, The Simpsons.

When Callwood asked the composer what he’d been expecting by mixing up his two musical worlds, Elfman said, “In rehearsals leading up to it, my sense was I was about to explode in a trainwreck of my own design. That it was an impossible show, it made no sense—the simple ability to get 50 musicians on that stage miked up and playing with a 35-minute set change seemed ridiculous in the extreme at the last second, not to mention ‘what is this thing?’ I felt like I was probably making the worst decision of my life, just based on this impulsive whim. In the end, it was great, but I guess that’s the crazy thing about trying something that is so off the meter of ‘this is gonna work.’ Literally pacing around backstage before the first show, I felt like I was about to walk out to a firing squad.”

Click here for the full interview and a selection of Elfman’s videos. —VV editors

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