james franco and tim o’keefe reveal a film from their smiths-inspired art band

Comprised of 10 individual music videos and shot by students at James’s mother’s school, ‘Let Me Get What I Want’ is a surreal portrait of high school emotions and the music that soundtracked them.

by Hannah Ongley
15 November 2016, 9:55pm

There are cover bands, then there is the Smiths-inspired concept band comprised of James Franco and Tim O'Keefe. The two multi-hyphenate artists formed Daddy after they met while studying post-grad at Rhode Island School of Design in 2011, using it as a vehicle for exploring their shared passions: poetry, conceptual art, and the music that soundtracked their high school years and heightened teen emotions. Each song on the band's debut album Let Me Get What I Want is based off Franco's poems inspired by and named after Smiths songs.

For the film that accompanies the album, Franco and O'Keefe drew upon the talents of fellow students — but not the ones at RISD. Instead they tapped a pool of budding directors from the high school class taught by Franco's mom in his native Palo Alto. Each student was asked to come up with and shoot a script based on one of the 10 poems. The film, which can be viewed in its entirety or as 10 individual chapters, was then edited by filmmaker Irene Su and video artist Beth Wexler to add one-of-a-kind video effects that help construct its narrative and endless loop aesthetic. Franco's own high school yearbook artwork makes an appearance in the film, loosely bookending the chapters that reveal the story of Tom, Erica, and Sterling. As they reveal the film, Franco and O'Keefe chat about nostalgia, irony, and their work with Smiths bassist Andy Rourke. 

How did you select the exact students who shot the individual videos?
James: They were my mother's students, she selected them.

Are they Smiths fans?
James: If they weren't already, I think they became fans.

What do you feel when you listen to The Smiths now?
James: Nostalgia, deep yearning, and irony.

Tim: Nostalgia. Their music was pretty important to me as a middle and high school student. It was one of my major influences when I began making my own music as a teenager.

Tim you mentioned earlier this year that you were working on new material with Andy. Can you tell us any more details about this?
Tim: Sure. Following our work together on the Daddy album, Andy and I started working in my studio on new material for an album together. We have a fair amount of material in the works, and I expect we'll release some new stuff in 2017. We're planning to launch a boutique label together for our music and also for other emerging artists that we'd like to produce together.

Andy and I have also starting scoring film/video projects together, and recently scored a web series called Raw Craft that's hosted by Anthony Bourdain. We're also currently getting ready to score an Italian animated film in the coming year.

James you obviously have a more eclectic resume than many artists. Are your musical tastes equally broad? Are you typically drawn to music that combines humor and misery?
James: Sometimes. The Pixies, A$AP Rocky, Wiz Khalifa, Snoop Dogg, Biggie Smalls, Mungo Jerry, Simon and Garfunkel, Nirvana, Cat Stevens — they all seem to have some humor and misery.

The main characters are based on real people that you met in high school. Do you know what they are doing now? Do they know about the film?
James: I still talk to Erica. She is married in upstate New York, still gorgeous.

Order 'Let Me Get What I Want' digitally or as a limited edition purple vinyl — with a postcard signed by both members — here


Text Hannah Ongley
Image courtesy of Daddy

james franco
The Smiths
Tim O’Keefe
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