With due respect to Paul Shaffer and the Max Weinberg Seven, when Late Night With Jimmy Fallon premiered on March 2nd, the Roots instantly became the hottest band on late-night television. Rock Daily recently caught up with ?uestlove and the Roots as the hip-hop vets rehearsed for their full-time gig as the house band for Fallon’s show — check out the video above for shots of the group in action and ?uestlove giving us the scoop.
Fallon recently told Rolling Stone that because the Roots are serving as his house band, “there’s no way anyone’s falling asleep.” The group was faced with an almost insurmountable task leading up to the debut episode: Write around 200 new songs for the program, as ?uestlove told the Smoking Section (because NBC won’t pay royalties for other band’s songs). “I’m personally saying now that I don’t want the rehearsals to stop. This is the most we’ve ever written as a group,” ?uestlove says. “I think that once we get 200 songs under our belt, I’ll lay off the three-to-five hour rehearsals.”
So how did NBC convince the prolific road warriors to settle down on one stage? Incentives like spending more time with their families and rehearsals on NBC’s tab definitely helped, as did the increased pay for the decreased workload. “If you total up the seconds we appear on TV, we’re on camera for 640 to 800-something seconds a week,” ?uestlove says. “That’s the equivalent of 10 nights on the road. Our manager would not let us take this gig if it didn’t match or surpass what we get on the road.