It’s the End of an Era for the “Late Night” House Band

Seth Meyers is losing his 8G Band due to budget cuts

June 12, 2024 11:24 am
The 8G Band
Fred Armisen performs with The 8G Band on December 20, 2023.
Lloyd Bishop/NBC via Getty Image

When Late Night with Seth Meyers kicks off its new season in the fall, it’ll be missing one of its staples: the 8G Band. According to Eli Janney, the group’s keyboardist, the band is being axed due to budget cuts at NBCUniversal.

“In the end, NBC was adamant about where they wanted the budget to go,” Janney told Vulture on Tuesday. “It’s not just the band; there’s a whole crew that works with the band, so there’s a lot of people employed. I think this was an easy way for them to cut the budget. Easy is not the right word.”

It’s an unprecedented move for the late-night institution. When the band — formed by Fred Armisen and featuring Janney, guitarist Seth Jabour and bass player Syd Butler along with a rotating cast of drummers filling in for Armisen when his schedule got too chaotic — takes its final bow on the show this fall, it’ll make the first time in the 40-year history of NBC’s Late Night that the show won’t have a live house band. Even beyond Late Night, house bands have been a huge part of late-night talk shows, with bandleaders like Paul Schaffer, Max Weinberg or, more recently, Questlove playing more of a sidekick role, participating in bits and bantering with the hosts in addition to playing guests on and off.

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Guests on Seth Meyers will still apparently walk out to music, but it’ll be pre-recorded. “We’re still going to make music for them, but we just won’t be playing it live,” Janney said. “So that will continue. That’s one nice thing they’ve worked out. We’re just going to record a whole bunch of them and then update it periodically to keep things fresh.”

Still, even with piped-in walkout music, there’s no denying that the decision to cut the 8G Band marks a significant turning point for late-night talk shows as a whole. The genre continues to struggle with ratings as younger viewers prefer to consume short clips from the show on YouTube or social media rather than watching an entire episode as it airs in real time. Could we see even bigger changes to the traditional late-night format as networks struggle to keep it contemporary in a changing TV landscape? Only time will tell.

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