Danny Elfman’s performance at Coachella on Saturday (April 16) became immediately noteworthy for two reasons: he played all of his hits and he did so shirtless.
Elfman is 68 years old.
The legendary composer and performer, who rose to fame with his band Oingo Boingo, is known for his theme song for The Simpsons, his Batman theme song, and many other standards from movies like Edward Scissorhands and Nightmare Before Christmas.
And after his Coachella performance, given the shirtless choice (and a chest full of tattoos), Elfman commented on the headlines his torso helped to create.
“To anybody who saw me in the late ’80s or ’90s, that’s exactly how they saw me,” Elfman said to Variety. “The only difference is that back in the ’90s, I would have been barefoot on stage, and they made me wear a pair of shoes at Coachella because with all the acts going on and off, they just didn’t know if there’d be nails in the stage or splinters. But other than the shoes, I just wanted to come out exactly like if you saw me 30 or 40 years ago, and here I am now. And to not be embarrassed or ashamed by that. It’s like, ‘Yeah, I’m an old man. Fuck it—here I am.’”
Elfman continued, “And so that [taking the shirt off] was kind of spontaneous. The sixth or seventh song, I just remember going, ‘The hell with it. I’m just going to take it right back to if there’s somebody who saw me in 1990, this is what they would have seen,’ and just go for it. It was just part of putting myself out there. That was the last layer, I guess, of protection, of armor, and I decided to give that up too. That was kind of a surrender of the last tiny bit of protection I had between me now and my past and what I am and what I was. And it was just not something I thought out in advance.”
In 2021, Elfman released his first solo album in 37 years, The Big Mess.
Coming up next for Elfman, the musician will compose the music for the forthcoming Tim Burton Netflix series, Wednesday.
Danny Elfman (Photo Silvia Grav)