Boingo shortens name, but extends legacy with giant set
By Gil Griffin
NEW YORK-With a new name, a fresh new sound, and a new label,
Oingo Boingothe eccentric Los Angeles group with a regional cult following--
has been reborn after a four-year recording hiatus. Now known as Boingowhich
most of its fans had already called itthe group continues its musical
experimentation, but its quirky, mid-'80s "Weird Science" days are history.
No longer a synth/dance/pop band, Boingo rocks on its self-titled
Giant Records albumliterally. With music ripe for modern and album rock
programmers' picking, the Giant staff will take the music to both radio formats.
Giant hopes to make Boingowhich has been around for 15 years and recorded
seven previous albumsa truly national act.
"Their weakest market has always been east of the Rockies," says
Steve Backer, Giant's head of marketing. "We're calling our marketing
plan for Boingo the 'East of the Rockies' plan. We're going to attack
these markets aggressively."
Boingo is headed by the extraordinarily creative singer/songwriter
Danny Elfmanthe same Danny Elfman who has composed scores for such well-known
films as Edward Scissorhands, Beetlejuice, and Batman,
as well as the theme for the Fox television series The Simpsons. Backer
says Elfman's fame will help Boingo's records sell.
"Retailers and programmers know who Danny Elfman is," Backer says,
"and lots of oportunities exist because of Danny's connection to
movies." Backer says Giant may show Boingo videos at movie theaters.
"We're also going to have MTV involved," he adds. "They haven't been
a part of Boingo before, but we're going to make a video [for the
song "Hey!"] that's going to be a jaw-dropper. Not to have a video
would be criminal."
It would also be criminal if the band's name change caused any
confusion among record buyers trying to find Boingo product at retail outlets.
(That's why MCAthe band's old labelwouldn't allow it to change its
name, Elfman says.)
Backer says a special Boingo record launch in LA is being planned,
and that a national tour is imminent. "One of Boingo's strongest
suits is the live show," Backer says. "They've toured before, but
there wasn't much interest in it and there wasn't a whole lot of
But Elfman hopes any tour by the band won't go on too long. "I
can't see playing on tour every night for six to nine months," says
Elfman. He concedes that using orchestral accompaniments on new
Boingo songs such as "Insanity" and "Mary" was influenced by his film
scoring, and says that inspiration for his new writing came from
sounds he heard coming from his 15-year-old daughter's bedroom.
"I heard her listening to her Beatles records, and then I started
exchanging albums with her," Elfman says. "Then I started listening
to the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Led Zeppelin. The Beatles had a
wild abandon for changing style from tune to tune. I've always wanted
our albums to be eclectic, and I've been pining for the day when we
could just let our minds wander."
Elfman and company wander to their heart's content on the new
album, which stretches over 70 minutes. One song, "Change", is 16
minutes long, while another, "Pedestrian Wolves", is just over nine
minutes. While Boingo's cover of "I Am the Walrus" pays homage to the
Fab Four, the dramatic, choral singing in "War Again" and "Lost Like
This" recalls vintage Queen. The group closes its 12-song album with
an uproarious, previously unreleased tune from the days when the band
was known as the Mystic Knights. Called "Helpless", the song features
incongruous accordion riffs, drum march rythems, and Elfman's adopted
hoarse roaring in the chorus.
"It was a challenge leaving dance music behing and not using
sequencers," Elfman says. "It's the most challenging, fun, and
difficult record we've ever done. It felt like a cold bucket of water
splashed in our faces."
But Elfman knows that Boingo's longtime fans may take the band's
change in sound as a slap in the face. "I'm expecting to get a lot of
nasty letters," Elfman says. "I got them when I recorded [the solo
album] "Dead Man's Party" in 1985. Fans would write and say they made
Oingo Boingo, and in seperating and changing we abandoned them."
"With any band that's been around as long as Boingo, the music
constantly changes and evolves," Backer says. "Sometimes hardcore fans will
be sacrificed. But they're making the album they've always wanted to make, and
[marketing it] is a major priorty for us."