Michael Franti explained the kids films he's working on, and his approval of the latest Star Wars movies.
Michael Franti & Spearhead’s Selbyville concert on Saturday is a reminder the early bird still gets the worm.
Their show has been sold out since early June.
Led by the socially-conscious and singer-songwriter Franti, the San Francisco band is touring with their sunny new single “Summertime Is In Our Hands,” off their latest record, “Soulrocker.”
The album added electronic music to the band’s varied sound, which had already included a hybrid of hip-hop rock, folk and reggae.
The video for their new single was shot in Bali and filmed by Franti, who stands 6-foot-6 and played basketball at the University of San Francisco. The song was motivated by the lead singer’s son, who was diagnosed with a rare disease.
Franti created a mini-documentary about the “Summertime Is In Our Hands” video and “Do It For The Love” - the wish-granting nonprofit co-founded with his wife, Sara.
DIFTL brings people living with life-threatening illnesses, children with severe challenges and wounded veterans to live concerts.
Franti, who played the very first Firefly Music Festival in 2012, dished on becoming a DIFTL family, new animated short films he’s working on, and he how he landed a Star Wars role.
Is there a moving story that’s fresh in your mind from someone you met through Do It For The Love?
It’s literally every day on tour that I meet people who come up and say, ‘My sister had stage-four breast cancer and now she’s passed on. Here’s a photo of her.’ I’m constantly moved by those kinds of stories. But one thing I never expected is that we’d become a Do It For The Love family ourselves. Shortly after we started it, my son, who’s now 18, he developed a rare form of kidney disease. That’s a chronic disease and he won’t get better. His kidneys are failing. He’s going to need a new one. My wife’s mom developed breast cancer right after we found that out. So we have a real personal reason to want to help families.
What can you tell us about the animated films you’re making?
I’ve written a number of children’s books and they all have messages about social consciousness or the environment. I always thought it would be cool if there were films that were big budgeted, kids animated features that if it had a short film at the beginning that was super funny and cool to watch - but also had a message about recycling or some sort of social issue - that would be really cool. So that’s what we’re kind of developing. I grew up watching “Schoolhouse Rock!” cartoons on ABC, “Conjunction Junction” and all that. We don’t want to do that exactly, but that’s kind of the same wheelhouse.
During the ‘80s you were in a made-for-TV movie: “Ewoks: The Battle for Endor.” How’d that come about?
I’m 6-foot-6 and when I was playing basketball at college, some folks from Lucasfilms came to the school and was like, ‘We need tall people to work with, to chase ewoks through the forest.’ I needed a summer job, so that was it. It kind of dovetailed into a whole bunch of things, because the money that I earned, being an extra on that film, I was able to buy my first bass and my first little drum machine; that’s how I really launched into making music, too.
What do you think about the latest Star Wars films?
I think it’s awesome they’ve continued the storytelling that George Lucas set out to do. I’m a bit of a purist. It was the fourth film, but I guess it was the [first prequel] and I remember seeing the effects in it and I was like, ‘the effects are so cheesy. It’s Star Wars. They’re f*****g it up [laughs].’ But now it’s all come around to the point where the films are, in my opinion, the story is as strong as it was in the beginning. And the effects are as powerful and believable as the early ones.
As a Golden State Warriors fan, do you think anyone can stop them from winning another championship this upcoming season?
I really feel like the Warriors are the 3.0. They're like the Apple of sports right now. Maybe there's going to be a new Samsung or something that takes them out. But right now it's like Drake, Jimmy Iiovine and Tim [Cook] are all on the same team and there's no f*****g with them.