Seth Meyers to Lose ‘Late Night’ 8G Band in NBC Budget Cuts

“Everybody’s a little bit sad about it, but we’re trying to go out on a positive note,” the show’s keyboardist and associate musical director Eli Janney says

A band plays on stage on a talk show TV set.
Eli Janney, Fred Armisen, Kim Thompson, Syd Butler and Seth Jabour of the 8G Band on Feb. 24, 2014. (Photo by Peter Kramer/NBC/Getty Images)

The 8G Band has been a staple at “Late Night” ever since Seth Meyers took the show over from Jimmy Fallon in 2014 — but budget cuts at NBC this year mean that when the show comes back for its 12th season in September, the band will be out. The group is led by former “SNL” star Fred Armisen (who only occasionally plays with the rest of the band) and is made up of guitarist Seth Jabour, bassist Syd Butler and keyboardist Eli Janney.

Janney, who’s also the show’s associate musical director, shared the news in an interview with Vulture. When the current season ends, “Late Night With Seth Meyers” is set to undergo what Janney called a “revamp” — which includes saying farewell to the 8G Band, named for the studio the show films in at 30 Rock in New York.

Meyers and showrunner Mike Shoemaker brought the 8G Band in to break the news of the forthcoming cuts.

“They had been trying to work it out for months, but in the end NBC was adamant about where they wanted the budget to go,” Janney said.

He added that, along with the band, the losses would include associated members of the crew. Janney shared his appreciation that Meyers had always championed the band. The keyboardist said he was also grateful they let the band know significantly before the end of the season, giving them more than 90 days to make plans for what’s next.

When asked whether he was supposed to be sharing the news publicly, Janney quipped, “I don’t think so. But what are they going to do, fire me again?”

It’s not all grim news for the band’s future, either — they’ll still be pre-recording walk-on music for the guests, Janney said.

“We’re still going to make music for them, but we just won’t be playing it live,” Janney said. “That’s one nice thing they’ve worked out.”

While “Late Night” has been on for 40 years, Janney noted, “sadly, it’s the reality of broadcast and a shrinking market — streaming eating into this, and YouTube eating into that. Streaming is not making money, either. So budgets everywhere have been cut and cut and cut.”

Armisen will return and play drums with the band during their final week on the show. “There’ll be a bit of a celebration, I’m sure,” Janney added. “There’s been a bunch of ideas floated, but nothing has been written in stone yet.”

“Everybody knows what’s happening, and everybody’s a little bit sad about it, but we’re trying to go out on a positive note,” Janney said. “That’s mainly what we’re doing: Trying to enjoy the time we have.”

Despite the band’s forthcoming departure from the show, Janney praised the long-running opportunity, the longevity of which is a rarity in entertainment as a whole and perhaps especially in the music business.

“My God, it couldn’t have been better: a union gig where you get paid to create music every day,” Janney said. “It was a little bit like winning the lottery. I thought I was going to get fired every week. To make it ten and a half years is pretty amazing.”

He also noted that it’s possible they’ll be brought back for an occasional live appearance.


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