HENRY DILTZ, AFP/Getty Images When Rhode Island's Newport Jazz Festival…
- Posted on May 4th 2011 1:00PM by Pat Pemberton
Bruce Glikas, FilmMagic
Even then, his band -- also featuring his brother Zane on guitar -- was signed to Interscope Records, which also happens to be U2's label. Still, they were an unknown act until Reeve was cast as Peter Parker and managed to get his band roles in the production as well. As he prepares for the musical's projected June 14 opening, Carney spoke to Spinner about the show and his band during a rehearsal break.
Where was Carney at before 'Spider-Man?'
We were just touring in our van. Eventually, right before we moved on to 'Spider-Man,' we got into our first bus. We were sharing it with another band, and that was really fun.
We've been consistently growing our fan base, but it wasn't very big. It was clubs. And then after being involved in 'Spider-Man,' for instance, we played on Valentine's Day and sold out the Bowery Ballroom here in New York, which we never could have done.
Obviously, this is a huge boost for you guys, with the band getting into the show, too. Did you lobby for that?
Yeah, I took Julie Taymor to dinner one night, and I brought up the idea, and she said, "That's a fabulous idea."
She basically discovered you at a gig. How did that happen?
We were playing the Mercury Lounge [in New York] two and a half years ago. We were coming out of Tennessee from Bonnaroo and she came to the gig because my friend, T.V. Carpio, -- who actually plays the female villain, Arachne, in the show 'Spider-Man' -- introduced me to Julie. When Julie came to see us play, she ended up thinking I'd be a good fit for her film, 'The Tempest,' and she ended up casting me. From there, she thought that I might be able to handle this role, which is very different.
I never thought I'd be acting. It's very accidental for me.
All of the sudden you're auditioning for Bono and the Edge. What did you do for them in that initial audition?
I was just there to sing a song. They needed a singer, last-minute, to present their songs for some investors. At that point, I actually thought, "Theater isn't really my thing," because I'd never done it. I figured I'm helping them out.
I just wanted to meet Bono and the Edge, really. Once they heard me sing, I guess they thought, "Wow, we should really have this guy audition for the show."
Then there were a few months of auditions, right?
Yeah. I was going back and forth for three months. It was a long waiting game.
Were you going back for more things, like swinging on ropes?
Yeah, it was some of that, singing, acting. I'd have to sing different songs each time. I had to sing for Marvel and all the producers. The hardest people to get by were actually Marvel. I think Bono and Julie and Edge liked me pretty immediately, but it was hard to convince people who were trying to make sure their brand is expressed in the way they want it to be.
Obviously, the things people have read about is the injuries the cast has suffered. What's been the scariest moment for you?
It's always mildly unnerving when you're hanging upside down 70 feet in the air. I'm getting used to it, sort of -- most of the flying I do is really fun. I don't even think about it because there's so much involved. But the times you have to stop and wait in the air, it's like being on the top of the mountain and hearing the wind. The silence with the wind is a little bit crazy. When you have to stop and actually think about what you're doing, that's when it becomes scary.
When you're hanging up in the air, what thoughts go through your head?
I've got to make sure I'm focused on the right things and have faith that everything will be OK or that everything will work out the way it's supposed to.
Your family has an entertainment background.
I didn't even know this until recently, but I'm like a third generation Broadway entertainer. My dad was a jingle writer, and my mom was a jewelry designer and musician. But my dad was in a show in the '70s called 'Elvis Lives,' and my mom was a costume designer in 'Torch Song Trilogy.' And my great-uncle -- I don't remember what show he was in -- he was a guy named Art Carney [of 'The Honeymooners' fame]. I think he won a Tony for something [he was nominated in 1969 for 'Lovers'].
Didn't you perform with Michael Jackson at some point?
Yeah, I sang on his 'HIStory' album. My dad, being a jingle writer, and my mom, being a jingle singer, they hooked me up with some people when I was a kid that worked with children's jingle singing groups. I used to sing jingles as a kid. Somehow the leader of this session got the call to do the Michael Jackson record. She called me and a few other kids.
While you were doing that, were you into Spider-Man?
Yeah, but only from the comic book perspective, in terms of artistry. When I was 5, 6, 7, all the way up to 10 or 11, I wanted to be an artist, like a sketch artist/cartoonist sort of thing. I used to look at the Spider-Man comic books and copy images.
After all these performances you're doing for the musical, is Carney's stage presence going to become more theatrical?
Maybe I'm more comfortable in my body than I was before becoming Spider-Man in the show.
I'm really excited about our gig with U2. We're opening for them in July. That will be great because we've never played on a stage that big -- for 80,000 people. That'll be probably the best practice in stagecraft.
Last June you guys were super busy -- like 23 gigs. You were doing nightly gigs almost.
Having the stamina, playing night after night on the road, living in a van -- that definitely helped ease the learning curve for me in becoming an entertainer on Broadway.
Have you had a chance to perform with Bono and the Edge?
Not publicly. We've definitely sat in room together and traded lines, singing songs and trying to figure the best way to sing them.
Where are you at in your mindset, going into the most expensive Broadway show ever?
Well, I don't think I'm very nervous because we've had so many false openings. Maybe that's the good thing about postponing -- at this point I'm not even nervous any more.