Zane Carney is a guitarist on the rise! Playing since he was 10 years old, Zane studied guitar at Hamilton High School Academy of Music and spent three summers learning jazz from the National Guitar Workshop where he fell in love with the instrument. After High School he studied studio/jazz guitar at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music. While studying at college, Zane began playing around LA and soon found consistent work as a session and touring guitarist. He has toured with Jesse McCartney, Renee Olstead, Armand Sabal-Lecco (Paul Simon, Stanley Clarke) and has been fortunate enough to share the stage with artists such as Stevie Wonder, David Foster, India Arie, Philip Bailey, Verdine White, Roy Hargrove, Adam Levy, John Hamilton, John Clayton, Johnny Lang and Warren Haynes. Zane has also recorded with more than a few artists but most recently with Matt Morris, an artist on Tenmann Records who was produced by Justin Timberlake.
In between his time spent touring and recording, Zane played in the House Band on "Last Call with Carson Daly," a band led by Joe Firstman featuring a rotating cast of LA’s finest young musicians. During this time on "Last Call", Zane and his brother Reeve, formed their band CARNEY with Reeve as lead vocals and Zane lead guitarist. With CARNEY, Zane opened for such hit artists as Fergie, The Black Crowes, Gov't Mule, The Veronicas, Live, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Shooter Jennings, and Jackie Greene. Signed to Interscope Records, CARNEY has released two albums: "Nothing Without You" and "Mr. Green: Volume 1" (which prominently features Zane's musicianship and virtuosity as a lead guitarist and showcases his love for improvisation).
In 2010, Zane, Reeve, and bandmates Jon Epcar (Drums), and Aiden Moore (Bass) relocated to New York to star in "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark," Reeve as "Spider-Man" and Zane, Jon, and Aiden playing in the pit. Both have continued to stay with the show which plays at the Foxwoods Theatre in NYC (213 West 42nd Street, between 7th and 8th Avenue). Click here for tickets!
In addition to "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark," Zane is working on his solo album which is slated for release in 2012 and he is heading out to California from January 9-19 to perform a host of solo shows and teach some master classes/clinics:
SOLO SHOWS: (Listing of All Shows Here)
January 9 at 9pm: Cafe Du Nord in San Francisco, Cost: TBD, 21+ (Zane Solo Guitar)
January 11 at 9pm: Molly Malone's in Los Angeles, $10, 21+ (The Zane and Stephan Show, Paris Carney, and Greg Blum and the Greg Blum All-Stars)
January 12 at 8pm: Letsta's in San Diego, $10 (With Jessie Payo and Andy Lund)
January 16 at 8pm: KCRW Sponsored Show at Bardot (Guest List ONLY)
January 19 at 8pm: The Hotel Cafe, $10, 21+ (Zane Solo Guitar)
Jan. 12th at 10am-12pm at LAMA
Jan. 17th at 7pm at AMDA
Jan. 19th at USC at 10am-12pm
1. Who or what inspired you to become a musician? My whole family is musical. But, when I was 10 years old, my brother started playing the guitar because my dad had one and that was the immediate knee-jerk reaction of I want to play music because I saw Reeve doing it and it looked really fun. So four months after he got a guitar, I asked for one and got one for my birthday. Then I just started practicing, learning stuff from Nirvana, Blues Traveler, and Off Spring, and then I started going to guitar camp, because again, Reeve was going. While I was at guitar camp, something inside of me told me to take a jazz guitar class, so I did, and it introduced me to a guy named Wes Montgomery, and that was really what started my music career. If it wasn't for my Dad and Reeve first, I would have never been introduced to Wes.
2. Who would you like to work with that you haven't? There are so many people. I'm just starting to write my own stuff, but at this time in my life, my primary passion is playing, interpreting, and coming up with guitar parts of other people's songs. It's sort of like a classical pianist or violinist who is given music and it's their job to bring new life to it. The Jazz improvising side of me would love to work with Roy Hargrove, the trumpet player. I would also love to work with T-Bone Burnett and Jon Brion. The songwriting side of me would love to work with someone like Regina Spektor, who's actually a friend of mine, and Norah Jones would be fun to play with too. I also love to write for film and orchestrate, so it would be great to work with filmmakers one day.
I've been really lucky to be working in the pit of "Spiderman" because it's starting to open a lot of doors for me creatively - getting to be around a conductor, orchestrator, arranger, Bono and The Edge, so many talented instrumentalists - so I'm really excited to see where things go.
3. You play in the pit of "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark." What do you like about playing in a Broadway pit and what is it like to play in the pit of the show that your brother is starring in? Playing pit is something that I was lucky enough to start doing in Los Angeles as a hired guitarist. It actually started in high school because all of us in Carney (we all went to high school together) had a really great musical theatre program. The great thing about playing in the pit is that I get to have the music in front of me. There are some people that are gifted at reading music and then there are people like me, who really have to work at it. Working in a musical means I have a conductor in front of me and a huge book of music to play through, which is really helpful, but also really fun. It brings me to a place where I feel like an actual craftsman and not just a performer or artist. It makes me feel like a real musician. I also love being able to play with a pretty sizeable orchestra, where I get to hear a lot of other instruments I don't get to hear on other projects. It's nice to be part of a big team. There really is just a great energy and attitude.
As far as working with Reeve on stage, it's crazy. In the first version of the show, our bassist in Carney, Aiden Moore and I we were on stage. We were lucky enough to see the entire rehearsal process and be with Reeve on stage. At one spot in the first version of the show, "Boy Falls From The Sky" the lights were dark everywhere except for on the three of us in Reeve, Aiden, and myself. So. the first half of the song was about 3/4 of Carney experience, except for the fact that the music is so different from our own. It was nice to have the three of us there together.
In our band, I'm very happy to take a non-leadership role because Reeve is the songwriter and lead singer and it was his idea to start our band. Outside of our band, I've been very lucky to be in leadership roles in different groups and musical directed a few artists signed to major labels. So because of that experience in our band, it doesn't really feel uncomfortable doing "Spiderman" where he is the star and we're in the pit. It feels very natural. The only thing is I miss being able to see people's faces while performing for them.
4. What do you get from performing your solo shows that you don't get from performing with Carney? That's a good question. I actually thought of a really funny analogy. I don't know if we are the same age or close in age, but I think we are. Do you remember Cap'n Crunch All Berries cereal? Me: Yes. Zane: When I was a kid, I remember having Cap'n Crunch with Berries and I feel like it's probably a bad idea to make this hilarious, childish analogy for our band's music, but I feel like if Cap'n Crunch with Berries were Carney the improvised sections we have like with "Resurrection" or "Testify," we have this seemingly through composed but in reality fully improvised piece of music, those would be the Berries. So, my solo music would be that All Berries cereal!
I feel like there are many bands out there similar to us, but one thing I feel that sets us apart from these other bands is that we all kind of grew up as music nerds and are very passionate about our craft and instruments and we have this thing we can do where we can improvise on the spot with each other in a really natural way.
The only thing that scares me about performing a solo show is trying to write my own songs. The really fun thing about doing a solo guitar show (and it's purely solo, with no drums or bass) is that it's very liberating. When I get into a groove at my shows, it's so freeing. There's nothing harmonically that I'm not allowed to do because there is no piano player or singer trying to hold onto a harmony we agreed upon. I take it to where ever I'd like to and I love that freedom. Having been inspired by guys like Wes Montgomery or Joe Pass and growing up in the generation I have, I feel like I have been given a jazz sensibility, but harmonically I really feel like I can go into Rock n Roll, Gospel, or Blues just as much as I can get into some out there Acid Jazz or moments of Trance. There's really aren't any barriers when it's just you and a guitar.
5. What excites you about your upcoming solo shows in CA? First off, It's going to be so nice to be back home! Even though I was born in New York City, I call CA my home. I'm doing shows up and down the coast. They're all going to be with different purposes and sets, so it should be a really fun time.
My San Francisco show on January 9 at Cafe Du Nord, that's going to be straight up solo experience, but it is part of this Communion Weekly, which hosts these really awesome nights of music in Brooklyn, NY and San Francisco, CA. Depending on the crowd here, I might sing a little more than usual, but I am hoping some of the Carney Bay Area fans will come. My January 11 show at Molly Malones is sort of a homebase show and a good excuse to see all my friends really. My main set is with The Zane and Stephan Show, Great Work! which is me on guitar/vocals and Stephan Hovsepian (of Soul Puppet) on Violin/Mandolin/Guitar and that is going to have some Beatles songs, some covers, an original or two and maybe even some hymns. I'm going to do some solo jazz stuff as well, so it's going to be a variety. In addition to my solo show that night, I'm also playing with my sister Paris, and one of my dearest friends Greg Blum and the Greg Blum All-Stars, so it's gonna be a lot of fun! My January 12 show in San Diego at Lestat's Coffee Shop is special because my friend Jessie Payo, who's really close friends with Jason Mraz, is going to open up for me. Jessie is actually the first person I ever played with professionally, so that is going to be great to play with her again. Plus, it's the only All Ages show of my trip.
6. I've seen you perform with your sister Paris Carney, here at The Bitter End in NYC. Now she's going to play with you out in CA. What do you like about working with her and how does working with her strengthen your sibling relationship? It's really fun to perform with Paris because she and I have such a different relationship than Reeve and I do. Because she is songwriter of her music and all that stuff, there is a little bit of ownership with what she wants to do, but she trusts my musicianship, which is really awesome, so I have been able to come up with ideas that might seem crazy to me, but she's usually like, "No, let's do it." She and I both appreciate what each of us brings to the table. I love playing her music. It's just so fun. We usually just do one duet together, but the LA might have a few more and we might do some more covers, but we'll see. We're lucky to have been singing together since we were kids, all three of us, our voices just naturally blend together. Playing with Carney is a very unique thing, but playing with Paris is unique in its own way. There's something special about sharing the same blood and growing up in the same family. There's sort of an ESP that's very natural and that's one of the things I love most about sharing the stage with both my siblings.
7. What have you learned about yourself from being a musician? That's another good question. I play the guitar all the time, but to sit down and actually practice is still a challenge for me. I want to be more disciplined in that respect. What I tend to do, since improvising is what I love most about music, I tend to sit down and maybe for 3 minutes I work on scales and technique, but then 2 minutes later, I'm looking at why this half diminished chord is the same as this minor 6 chord and which position they should be in, so when I pull them out of my bag of tricks, I can do that with the alterations of what those chords are. I would love to have more discipline to really work on my technique. I have also learned that as an artist the art you create is a pretty honest representation of who you are. It's like that biblical line: "What you speak from your tongue comes out the wealth of your heart." When I listen to recordings of me playing the guitar, I feel it's exactly like the way I think and it's allowed me to see how I operate as an individual and where I can grow and improve.
8. What's your favorite part of the creative process in putting your music together? I normally don't think this mathematically but to put it on paper in an interview like this I guess I would explain it this way: There are so many variables: tempo, time signature, or deciding the value (which notes to choose from, even though there are only 12 to choose from, the combinations are infinite.) Having all those variables to play with is my favorite thing. The thing that comes most natural to me is in the moment and improvising. That time is just so fun for me. That's why I fell in love with jazz. My family didn't really listen to jazz that much, so the first time I put on Wes Montgomery, I was looking around my room and I was like this is exactly how I think. I need to figure this out, how to communicate like this guy.
I'm also learning what my least favorite part is. Writing all these songs. I just have much praise and props to anyone who can write songs, even if they are "simple" in nature and I say simple in quotes because I work with so many people who say, "Oh this song is so dumb, it's so simple," but never is a song really simple. It takes so much time and effort. I have all of these songs I've been cataloging over the years and I find I have a really hard time getting to that next step of finishing the song.
9. What's the best advice you've ever received? David Foster came to my school to speak and we got to ask him questions like, "How did you get to where you are?" He basically said, "You have to be as nice as you can to everyone and realize that networking is the key to having a career." It's funny because that concept seems so short sighted, but it if you extrapolate it into a "how to live life kind of way," that's how I want to live my life. I learned really young, when someone hires you for a tour, they are just not looking at your skill set, but also at you, and can I really work with this person long term? It can't just be about me sitting in my room trying to be the best. It has to be more than that. His advice really resonated with me and has allowed to me realign myself and really focus on why I'm making music and feel so passionate about it. I really hope I run into him one day, so I can thank him for his advice.
10. If you could dream about anyone while you sleep, who would it be? There is a person out there who probably knows it would them.
11. Favorite way to spend your day off? Favorite way to stay in shape? Eating Cheeky's Sandwiches (on Orchard between Canal and Hester in NYC) while watching football at home interspersed by some video game moment or dvd, and then some late night guitar jamming that involves a eureka moment when something clicks and I discover something new.
My favorite way to stay in shape is rock climbing, which I do indoors. It's an amazing full body work-out.
12. Boxers or Briefs? Boxer-briefs. My friend hit me up with them when I was a kid and I haven't changed since.
13. Favorite website? ESPN.com, though most people laugh at me when they find out I'm into sports.
14. Superman or Wonder Woman? Superman. That was an easy one because he was my favorite super hero as a kid.