Frontman Rob Elfaizy and band keeping Oingo Boingo’s spirit alive. Photos courtesy of Dead Man's Party
An interview with Dead Man's Party
Who could ask for more?
By Kristian Smock | Feb - March 2006
In 1995, the innovative new-wave ska band, Oingo Boingo, called it quits and fans all over Southern California were reeling from the loss. Boingo was known for their exciting Halloween performances, and for many fans the ghoulish holiday would never be the same.
In late 2000, one talented fan decided to do something about it.
Musician, Rob Elfaizy, wanted to recapture the atmosphere and excitement of Boingo’s live shows by creating a tribute band which would eventually become, “Dead Man’s Party.”
As a child, Elfaizy was classically trained on the violin and piano, but by sixth grade he took up a “long-term love affair with the guitar.” In his teenage years, classical guitar soon paved the way to an obsession with rock and roll, molding him into the musician he is today.
“Vice/Versa” was the first of many long-running musical groups Elfaizy would be involved in. His last original band, “Nothing like Denver,” included “DMP” band mates, Mike Womack (lead guitar) and Axel Clarke (drums). Between ’98 and ’99, “Denver” played many successful shows throughout Orange County and Los Angeles.
The current “DMP” line-up is Rob Elfaizy (vocals), Mike Ryon (lead guitar), Andy Zacharias (bass guitar), Darren Conway (trombone), Axel Clarke (drums), Jake Wilson (trumpet), Bruce Zimmerman (saxophone), Lee Presson (keyboards), and Matt Virden (rhythm guitar), plus backup singers.
Elfaizy’s main focus since earning his business degree from USC has been his recording & rehearsal studio, “Stage One,” located in Laguna Hills. DMP plays about one gig a month and they aren’t quitting anytime soon.
With a little downtime in his hectic schedule, Elfaizy was gracious enough to talk to “78” about life with DMP.
78: What is it about Oingo Boingo’s music that interests you as a musician?
Elfaizy: Oingo Boingo had an amazing way of creating complex songs with odd timing that still appealed to the average listener. The music is a challenge to learn and perform, which is why we all enjoy it so much.
78: If you weren’t involved in DMP what would you be doing with your musical talents?
Elfaizy: Just about all of us are involved in different musical projects: Skanic, This, The Messengers from the Sexual Frontier, and a few other unnamed projects. DMP is a fun side project for all of us, but there’s really no substitute for creating original music.
78: What is your favorite Boingo song? Album? Why?
Elfaizy: That’s a really tough one for me. I have a few favorites, especially the earlier stuff. I think the easiest answer would be “Nothing to Fear,” both the song and album.
78: What are DMP fans like?
Elfaizy: They’re nuts! All stark raving mad if you ask me –most Boingo fans are. That’s why they’re so much fun and why we love and appreciate them so much. We certainly wouldn’t still be doing this if it wasn’t for them.
78: Do you plan on doing DMP indefinitely? What are some of your other aspirations?
Elfaizy: I don’t think any of us have really thought it out; I guess the word “indefinitely” is about right. We’ll probably keep it up until we bring the DMP Empire to a point of such power that our efforts are required to be focused on ruling the world and exploring the unknown universe. My own personal aspirations are far simpler though. I see myself opening a small but lucrative mango stand on the outskirts of Cairo within the next ten years or so.
78: Obviously older fans are coming to the shows, but have you noticed more young people getting turned on to Oingo Boingo as a result of DMP?
Elfaizy: We have actually had quite a few of the youngsters approach us and tell us exactly that over the years. It’s flattery at its best, and of course we’re all thrilled that our existence helps keep the Boingo spirit alive.
78: What are some of your other musical influences or tastes?
Elfaizy: Wow… that would be a long list. I’ve always preferred to be a bit eclectic in my musical tastes. Not a big fan of the rap though. That’s my mom’s department.
78: Tell us about your venues. What is your favorite venue? Do you just play clubs?
Elfaizy: I don’t know if any of us could say we have a favorite venue, but the “Galaxy Theatre” in Santa Ana is pretty much home to us. We play there regularly, and the crew is always great to work with. The sound is usually great…just a pleasant experience all the way around.
78: Do you ever open for bands? If so, who do most enjoy playing with? If not, who would you like to share a stage with?
Elfaizy: The logistics of being a nine-piece band pretty much prohibits our opening for other bands. Not that we would be opposed to it; we’ve actually come close a couple of times. It’s just that the time involved with setting up and doing a sound check, not to mention breaking down our setup, would prohibit another act from coming on after us. We really enjoy playing with other ‘80s “new wave” tribute acts—and there are quite a few great ones we have played with. Those shows are always the best.
78: According to your website Boingo “alumni” John Avila, Steve Bartek, Richard Elfman, and Richard Gibbs support DMP. Has Danny Elfman acknowledged the band’s success?
Elfaizy: They’ve all been to DMP shows, and Richard Elfman is a fan, a great supporter and friend to all of us in DMP. I know he’s discussed the band with Danny, but we’ve never heard what Danny thinks about us. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting him myself.
78: How would you describe Oingo Boingo or DMP to someone unfamiliar with the music?
Elfaizy: Scary sweet nectar of the gods.
78: Sadly, Oingo Boingo has never gotten the recognition they deserve from the mainstream music industry. Why do you think that is? And what’s kept them alive in the underground consciousness for so long?
Elfaizy: You obviously don’t know me well enough not to hand me a soapbox. Let me try not to get on a rant here and simply state that industry recognition is not, and has never been any type of gauge for good music. Boingo may have been a little too different and/or complex for your average listener, especially in their early years. That’s exactly what has kept them popular as a cult ‘80s band. I sacrifice a pastrami sandwich and a glass of rum to my stomach every day in remembrance of them.