It seems Hollywood do-it-all James Franco is bored. He has been in daytime soap operas, published a short story compilation, produced and directed a documentary on the making of a Saturday Night Live episode, put on a dance-theater performance art piece and got a degree in English from UCLA in 2008 with a 3.5 GPA, all while starring in movies at a decent rate, but he’s still looking for new things to do.
Since Franco seems to have an extreme case of restless legs Syndrome, he recently announced a new project — a band called Daddy. Let’s see what we know about it: The band consists of Franco and Tim O’Keefe, a college buddy who doesn’t seem to be the guitarist for Australian pop-rock band Stealing O’Neal.
I also doubt O’Keefe is the executive vice president and CEO of the University of North Dakota Alumni Association and Foundation, an assistant professor of philosophy at Georgia State University or any of the other Tim O’Keefes who show up on Google. So he is Franco’s college pal who doesn’t seem to have made a name for himself yet.
This isn’t Franco’s first foray into music. Along with artist Kalup Linzy, he released a two-song EP of soulful psychedelic dance music called “Turn It Up” under the name Kalup and Franco. The combination of Franco and the cross-dressing Linzy is strangely effective for the first few plays, but gets old after a while and is more of a novelty than anything.
We also know that Franco met music legend Smokey Robinson on a plane and got him to sing in a song called “Crime.” Daddy is set to release an EP called “MotorCity” on the 25th, the cover of which features a photo of Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson and Rachel Korine — Franco’s co-stars in the movie “Spring Breakers” — donning bikinis and fake “Daddy” tattoos. It’s like Disney is altering the Mickey Mouse Club to conform to the mouse’s new grittier image from “Epic Mickey.”
Lastly, we know that a video for “Love in the Old Days,” a track from the EP, premiered on rollingstone.com on Sept. 21, and it sounds like it has more staying power than Kalup and Franco.
The soul-inspired song opens with a spoken word verse from Franco, which makes sense considering he has a master’s degree in poetry. He describes learning about love from an album of black-and-white photos of his parents, spoken over a catchy, vaguely funky and psychedelic track that gives the song more merit than a typical actor-turned-musician project — The Office’s Leslie David Baker’s “2 Be Simple” is a prime example of this variety of failure.
On the other hand, “Love in the Old Days” is musically legitimate and a decent song. O’Keefe’s submissive vocals are breezy, pleasant and mesh with the song, but they’re really more of a bridge between Franco’s spoken parts about old-school romance. It’s doubtful he minds riding his buddy’s coattails to his 15 minutes of fame, though.
The visual aspect is no marvel in modern filmmaking, but the edited, trippy b-roll of young adults enjoying life adds to the easygoing, hazy atmosphere.
The duo insist they’re not a band in the conventional sense — a press release reads, “the motivation behind Daddy is to push beyond the sonic space of music into the surrounding ecology. Daddy investigates the territories of film/video, installation, and performance while simultaneously exploring the connections that form between them.”
Franco has already dipped his toes into these waters, but the musical validity of “Love in the Old Days” builds greater anticipation for the EP and whatever else he has planned with O’Keefe than his past, half-baked endeavors into music and art.
“I’ll tell you this: It’s always weird to talk about a new thing,” Franco told Rolling Stone. “I know I do a lot of things. I’m very aware of that. I’m sure there are a lot of skeptical people, hearing about me doing music … to me, it all comes from a similar place. It’s like using different tools to express things in different ways.”
Franco’s non-rock-star approach to Daddy should allow him to take the project fairly seriously, but not in a pathetic way because he’s not trying to be “in a band,” and, based on the only released song, the material is actually fairly good. If Franco wants another channel to express himself, let him have it. And if it turns out to be as unique, interesting and enjoyable as “Love in the Old Days,” let us have it.