From The New York Daily News…
The Roots are making sandwiches. The band is holed-up in a Manhattan studio, preparing for their new gig as the house band on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” the NBC show that will take Conan O’Brien’s place when O’Brien moves to “The Tonight Show.”
They’re working long days to create 200 “sandwiches” or “beds” – the intro and outros that will buffer each segment on the show.
“Right now, my whole life is this show,” said drummer Ahmir Thompson, better known as ?uestlove, in a recent interview as he lazily adjusted his fro pick in his trademark Afro, slightly exhausted in between rehearsals.
Since forming in Philadelphia in the early 1990s, the Roots have been one of the best regarded bands in hip-hop and music, altogether.
They were one of the first hip-hop bands to take up instruments and under the steady pounding of Thompson they’ve been an acclaimed act for nearly two decades, with respectable (though not huge) album sales.
So when word got out that the Roots would be following in the tradition of Paul Shaffer and Kevin Eubanks, the blogosphere and much of the music world erupted in say-it-ain’t-so shock.
Echoing the comments of many, Gawker.com wrote that the band “opening up for Jimmy Fallon every night is the cultural equivalent of Miles Davis playing his horn on the subway platform.”
?uestlove has heard the warnings about the Roots becoming a late-show band.
He says his friend saxophonist Branford Marsalis – who abruptly quit his gig as Jay Leno’s musical foil in the early 1990s – cautioned against the move: “You’ll be neutered!”
But ?uestlove says the band’s new job has “enabled us to survive.
“This would basically match or surpass what we would make touring 200-plus days out of the year. And, two, this allows us to be home,” he said.