"Spider-Man" role presents opportunities for bands

Fri Jul 16, 2010 8:25pm EDT
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By Jason Lipshutz

NEW YORK (Billboard) - Los Angeles rock band Carney recently wrapped a lengthy tour in support of its debut album, "Mr. Green -- Vol. 1." Instead of taking time off, however, guitarist/vocalist Reeve Carney began flight-training lessons in Las Vegas with Cirque du Soleil and working on music with members of U2.

That's because the singer's lifestyle has become a shade more spectacular since landing the lead role in "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark," the upcoming Broadway musical directed by Julie Taymor and scored by U2's Bono and the Edge. Carney is excited to start full rehearsals Monday (July 19) for a tentative bow this fall, but he's not forsaking the four-piece band that he fronts.

"Acting has never been my primary focus," Carney says. "It's hard to get your voice heard in the music industry. So this was an amazing way for the band to have a distinct story."

Carney signed with Interscope as a solo artist in March 2006 before forming a quartet with brother Zane Carney on guitar, Aiden Moore on bass and Jon Epcar on drums in late 2007. The band recorded "Mr. Green" -- released in May through DAS Label/Interscope -- with engineer Matty Green (TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs) and performed at last year's Bonnaroo and Outside Lands festivals.

When Taymor ("Across the Universe," Broadway's "The Lion King") attended a Carney gig at New York's Mercury Lounge in June 2008, the director recognized the frontman's charismatic stage presence. After casting Carney in her upcoming film version of Shakespeare's "The Tempest" starring Helen Mirren, Taymor asked the singer if he could fill in for rumored "Spider-Man" lead Jim Sturgess and perform some songs for the show's investors in March 2009.

"I didn't think I was auditioning for the part, but Bono said that he loved my voice," Carney says. After a long audition process, Carney was announced as the lead in November.

The role presented both a logistical problem and unique solution for the band's touring plans. Carney will not tour during the year that Reeve is playing Peter Parker, but Taymor has tapped the other band members to perform in the show's orchestra. The group also hopes to secure a weekly residency at a club in New York and possibly perform midnight gigs after the Broadway shows.

"It's frustrating that they're limited to New York," says band manager David Sonnenberg of DAS Communications. "But if you have to be limited to one place, it might as well be the media capital of the world."

<p>A man dressed as Spider-Man poses for photographers at the 'Spider-Man 3' world premiere event in Tokyo April 16, 2007. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao</p>