Danny Elfman Freaked Out Flight Attendants While Composing ‘Batman’ Score on Plane
BY RYAN PARKER | HollywoodReporter.Com
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The Oscar-nominated artist explains the music hit him “at the worst possible time.”
Danny Elfman has a wild tale about how he composed his iconic score to 1989’s Batman, which he said involved freaking out several flight attendants.
The Oscar-nominated artist was a recent guest on the WTF with Marc Maron podcast where he talked about his illustrious career from the lead man in Oingo Boingo to the slew of his beloved film scores.
While discussing his process with Maron, Elfman shared that creating the score to Tim Burton’s Batman was particularly awkward — and hilarious. The award-winning musician explained that he had flown out to London to visit the set and see a bit of the film for inspiration. The flight back to Los Angeles is when things got wild.
“That hit me at the worst possible time,” Elfman began. “On the way home, the thing fucking hits me. And it was like, what do I do? I’m on a 747. How do I do this? I am going to forget this all. I’m going to land and they’re going to play some fucking Beatles song, and I’m going to forget everything.”
Elfman said he had his recorder that he took everywhere, so he used it. “I start running in the bathroom [and hum phrases] and I go back to my seat, and I’m thinking, I’m thinking. Ten minutes later, back in the bathroom,” Elfman said. “And then back to my seat and then back to the bathroom, because I couldn’t do this with the guy sitting next to me.”
At one point, Elfman opened the door and was greeted by a flight attendant who wanted to know if he was OK and did not seem to believe it when Elfman reassured he was not up to anything. “Ten minutes later, I am back in the bathroom, And I open the door and this time there are three flight attendants,” he said. “And they were probably going, ‘What the fuck he is doing so frequently? You can’t do that much blow. You can’t shoot up that often. What is he doing in there?!’ And I piece by piece was working out the Batman score in my head.”
In a separate interview he did in April, Elfman revealed that he was not pleased with how his Batman score was used in the film. Elfman said he was “reasonably happy” with the mix of the score, his 10th, but disappointed with the dub, or how the music was transferred into the film.
“They did it in the old-school way where you do the score and turn it into the ‘professionals’ who turn the nobs and dub it in,” he said then. “And dubbing had gotten really wonky in those years. We recorded [multi-channel recording on] three channels — right, center, left, — and basically, they took the center channel out of the music completely.”