Before he was a world-renowned composer, Danny Elfman earned notoriety for his ’80s new wave band Oingo Boingo. On Monday, he waxed nostalgic by re-recording a version of Oingo Boingo’s “Running on a Treadmill” from self-quarantine.
The track is taken from the group’s 1982 album Nothing to Fear, and its original version is quite upbeat and kooky. In his home video recording, Elfman slowed down the tempo and reworked the song into something a little more snaky — though no less colorful. Elfman’s daughter recorded the whole thing for Instagram and made sure to include shots of creepy dolls that her father, a frequent Tim Burton collaborator, had on display in his home studio.
In the clip’s caption, Elfman explained that the inspiration for this recording came after his Coachella set was postponed until October. Struggling to focus on commissioned orchestral work, this song just popped into Elfman’s head and he decided to lay down a new rendition for his own sanity.
“Weirdly, as I struggled though those first few weeks, an old tune I had written decades ago began running though my mind,” Elfman wrote. “I didn’t know why, but it didn’t go away. Eventually I decided not to resist and laid down tracks, just for the simple pleasure. It’s really almost like a nursery rhyme. Maybe under all that stress that’s why it came back to me, and just the act of recording it was really calming for my brain.”
Last year, Elfman’s work made an appearance in our look back at the 10 Most Timeless Children’s Films. He’s still slated to perform at the rescheduled Coachella Music Festival later this year, and you can snag tickets here.
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When we started our isolation, I found myself out of sorts (like most of us surely did). My energy was very low. I had poured so much of myself into preparing for Coachella, and suddenly… nothing. Like everyone else, I was stunned and a little shell-shocked. I decided to return to an orchestral commission, but I found that my focus was also whacked from everything turning upside down. . Weirdly, as I struggled though those first few weeks, an old tune I had written decades ago began running though my mind. I didn't know why, but it didn't go away. Eventually I decided not to resist and laid down tracks, just for the simple pleasure. It's really almost like a nursery rhyme. Maybe under all that stress that's why it came back to me, and just the act of recording it was really calming for my brain. . I decided finally to share it with everyone. It's silly and simple. Playing everything and singing live to my backing tracks. This thing is funky! This is NOT my new single or for a new album that I'm working on. Just a little something that was fun to record and relaxed me, and maybe it will do the same for you? Totally home-made! Daughter @malielfman shot it on her iPhone, and homie Jon Mann Krieger (my Danny and Buddy Show collaborator) edited it. Hope you like it! . #socialdistancing #lockdown #weekfour #isolation #dannyelfmansfriends #yukielfman #runningonatreadmill @noahscotsnyder