Hey! James Franco's Band Is Not the Grad Student Performance Art You Might Expect


Spring Breakers is presently airing on Showtime, reminding us all of the time James Franco allegedly didn’t study the career and swag (or “swag”) of gold-grilled, cornrowed white rapper Riff Raff in order to play a gold-grilled, cornrowed white rapper remarkably similar to Riff Raff.

That was back in 2013, when the full spectrum of James Franco’s artistic endeavors was just beginning to truly reveal itself; he had already starred on General Hospital, deepening our sense of his sense of the absurd, but had not yet outed himself as a painter, published a collection of poetry or—in a verifiable case of the ouroboros—written an op-ed for the New York Times about the performance art of Shia LeBeouf. And he had not yet started his band, which enjoys the very deliberately creepy name of Daddy, and has now released a single, “You Are Mine” (equally creepy), off the forthcoming album Let Me Get What I Want (soooo creepy, particularly all in context with that time he maybe tried to pick up a teenage girl on Instagram).

Thankfully, none of the actual music has anything to do with Riff Raff and, shit, this song is pretty good, objectively speaking, even if it didn’t come from a person of some renown. (I already like it better than Ryan Gosling’s band, Dead Man’s Bones, but not as much as the catalogues of either Will Smith or Jennifer Lopez; this is not a judgement call but a personal stylistic preference.) Daddy, which also includes the composer Tim O’Keefe, is clearly influenced by dark bands like Depeche Mode, The Cure and Joy Division. There’s a minimalist aspect to it; on this track, Andy Rourke from the actual band The Smiths plays bass. (Franco’s most recent volume of poetry includes a section called “Poems Inspired by Smiths Songs,” which in turn inspired this album.)

Truthfully, it’s not at all what I imagined music by James Franco might sound like, but then again I’m not sure what would make more sense. Ironic country? Hardstyle? Screamo? Sure, but all those things would signal that he was trolling. While I’m still not sure how much James Franco intends to troll (or, sorry, “do performance art”), this doesn’t seem to fit into that part of his brain, even if the project is called Daddy. (Which, alternately, could also feed into the ambiguity he likes to keep up about his sexual orientation, a fact upon which his entire Comedy Central roast was based, but still doesn’t negate that time he tried to pick up a teenage girl on Instagram.)

In a press release, the band linked this music to the feelings we have in high school, which also correlates to his poetry book:

“High school is a time of longing for the unattainable. We dream big, but we’re still too young to make anything significant happen. At least I was too immature and sensitive to be the person I wanted to be. “You are mine” is about one teenager dreaming about another, even though they’ll never be together,”and Tim O’Keefe added “Transforming James’ poems to songs took on it’s own creative process which was a new direction for me. Because the words weren’t written by me, I had to take on the character of the individual whose perspective I was singing from. You Are Mine like many of the songs on Let Me Get What I Want expresses experiences that were relatable to my own high school experience, and therefore I had a lot of my own emotions to pull from.”

Anyway, the music: not bad!

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Image via Girlie Action PR.

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