Danny Elfman shares love for albums by Nine Inch Nails, David Bowie, The Beatles

Danny Elfman
(Image credit: Steve Jennings/Getty Images)

Danny Elfman recently became one of the latest musicians to feature on Amoeba Music’s What’s In My Bag series. 

On visiting the Los Angeles record store, the American film composer sifted through their album racks to pick out a selection of material that had influenced him throughout his life; from his early childhood to the present day.

“All the different phases of my musical life is all spread out here” he begins. “But if I’m going back all the way as a kid it would be these two Beatles records [Revolver and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band].

Adding another Beatles record to the pile and elaborating on various tracks, he explains: “Magical Mystery Tour had I Am The Walrus, then you’ve got A Day In The Life which is a huge one for me…Eleanor Rigby. Now I’m not talking about songwriting influence, this is orchestral influence that you’ll hear in my music now.”

Jumping out from his influences from the 60s and early 70s, he continues on through to his high school years and credits albums by composers Stravinsky and Duke Ellington for turning his teenage world “upside down”. 

At the end of his adolescence, Elfman recalls discovering punk music such as The Clash’s London Calling. “Suddenly: ‘Oh my god, this is insane’. London Calling I still think is one of the best single songs of the century”.

During this era, the film composer states how he was also inspired by XTC’s 1979 album Drums And Wires, as well as MadnessOne Step Beyond, leading him to want to start a rock or ska band.

“Unfortunately I knew I could never be like The Clash because I thought I could never be a punk, as I was an old man, I was 27 when I made this decision, so I already felt like a senior citizen”. 

Next, Elfman explores the '80s with albums such as David Bowie’s Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps). “The way he [David Bowie] approached songs, the guitar stylising…there was an attitude about them that totally connected with me” he says of the record. “This was a landmark album for me”.

Reflecting on the 90s, and the period of time he was officially in a rock band, he notes enjoying Nine Inch NailsPretty Hate Machine and Downward Spiral, adding that they had a “big” effect on him.

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Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.