The legendary and elusive Danny Elfman made a rare appearance in front of his adoring fans in the outdoor patio at Warner Bros. Records on Tuesday. No, Elfman hasn’t rediscovered his passion for the live performances he quit doing so many years ago; he was answering questions about his taste in movie soundtracks, his involvement with the Mystic Knights Of The Oingo Boingo – his quintessential 80s band that just got bigger as it kept dropping words from its name until only Boingo was left – and the topic that attendees seemed most geeked out over, his collaborations with filmmaker Tim Burton, including the just-released Dark Shadows.
Elfman was a genial guest, responding in detail to questions about his creative process. He spoke of his admiration for film composer Bernard Herrmann and talked about the first time he ever noticed film music.
Asked if he gets writers block, he exclaimed “Every time!” and said that if there were no such thing as deadlines he would still be re-working Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. He noted that he had been talked into doing the score for Pee Wee, and nearly backed out for fear of his own inexperience. But once he realized he would have to call Tim Burton to tell him he was breaking the deal, he ended up completing the project just to avoid the phone call.
For the smattering in the crowd whose primary interest was Boingo, he offered no encouragement that he would be performing any time soon – “I like performing but I hate travelling, which when you’re in a band, is just not right” – and seemed to wave off the possibility when asked if he ever gets the urge to play with the old lineup again. He did, however, assert the superiority of live musicians over samplers, for those who can afford them, while allowing that samplers can sometimes be used effectively should real players be impossible to provide. “We as composers are gonna do what we have to do.”
Speaking about the the massive 25th Anniversary Music Box, a comprehensive, lavishly packaged 16-CD collection from his first thirteen films with Burton, he stated that his team had driven themselves crazy unearthing every demo, unused idea and alternate take that could possibly be found, over seven hours of unreleased material. The boxes were offered to event-goers for $100 off the usual price, which still makes it one of the most expensive box sets we’ve ever encountered. But 20% off is 20% off, and if you just gotta have one, consider ordering in the next three days from the Elfman-Burton web site.