While the band Carney was
promoting its major-label debut, Mr.
Green, Vol. I, in 2010, lead vocalist Reeve
Carney was selected to play the lead role
in Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark—a massively
complex Broadway production with
music by Bono and The Edge of U2. The rest
of Carney was chosen to be part of the pit
band, and Reeve’s Tele-wielding brother
Zane became the show’s primary guitarist.
What were your expectations going into
I figured there would be lots of sightreading,
as that’s a must for Broadway gigs.
But I’ve studied music seriously since I was
in junior high school, and I’ve done every
kind of sideman gig from touring to television
bands, so I felt well prepared. I was
surprised that working with Bono and The
Edge felt so natural. I just had to pick up
on their terminology. For example, “cello
guitar” is U2 terminology for a fast tremolo-
How hands-on was The Edge?
On the first day of rehearsal, he literally
got down on his knees and dialed his
trademark delay sound on my Line 6 Echo
Park pedal. His trick is to set the delay at a
dotted eighth-note, bump the wet level up
a bit, and play straight eighth-notes along
with it. The result is a pseudo-swinging,
accented sixteenth-note kind of thing that
you instantly recognize—like the intro to
“Where the Streets Have No Name.” He also
gave me one of his Herdim picks, and said,
“I want you to use this because it’s one of
the secrets to getting my sound.” It’s similar
to the gray nylon picks you’ve probably
seen around. It’s about 1mm thick and it has
dimples for grip. He asked me to play with it
turned upside down to get a crispy attack.
Did he bring you anything else?
Yes—seven Gibson Explorers! When I
auditioned number two, he said, “That’s it!”
To me, it felt like a scene out of a movie—
like he handed me Excalibur or something.
For the other half of the show, I play my blue
Telecaster with a 1mm Dunlop Tortex pick—
which I hold in all sorts of different ways to
get various attacks. It’s sort of symbolic—
half Edge and half Carney.
Are there any other interesting Spider-Man
The evolution of my gear is its own little
saga. Initially, I gathered all my favorite
effects—everything from a Maxon AD999
Pro Analog Delay, which I love for its warmth,
to a vintage Electro-Harmonix POG—and I
learned how to wire them into a rack system.
No tech was available early on, so the other
guitarists were doing the same thing. Eventually,
a supervisor was assigned who decided
that racks of analog gear were liable to fail,
and too difficult for subs to manage. I fought
tooth and nail because I’m so passionate
about analog gear.
Ultimately, we all ended up using the
Fractal Audio Axe-Fx, and digital processors
became necessary because the sonic
shifts in Spider-Man are so dramatic. I programmed
180 patches in show sequence, but
that meant any changes to the book required
hours of programming and re-sequencing,
and it would have taken even longer if I didn’t
have my laptop.
Did the widely publicized troubles with the
show affect you?
Those reports were highly sensationalized—
other than the injury to the main stunt
Spider-Man, who recovered. The craziest
part of getting the show going was how long
it took. Things kept changing, so we would
work 12-hour days, six days a week. It was
Did the fact that the show took so long to develop
work to your benefit?
Yes. When there was down time, I would
pick Edge’s brain, or the orchestrator’s brain,
or a take notes on how the conductor operates
in case I ever get the chance to, say,
score a film that I want to conduct myself. I
also seized opportunities to study the piano/
vocal charts and analyze the harmony, because
not many guitarists work from those charts.
It sounds like Spider-Man was like musical
That’s a great way to put it. I feel much
stronger now. After Spider-Man, I feel like
I can achieve anything.