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All About the Late Night With Seth Meyers 8G Band

Everything to know about the 8G Band, who have backed Seth Meyers since he took over Late Night in 2014.

By Christopher Rudolph

House bands are integral to making late-night TV feel like a party. From the Max Weinberg 7 on Late Night With Conan O'Brien to The Roots on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, they provide the soundtrack that helps both the guests and the audience let loose.

How to Watch

Watch Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC weeknights at 12:35/11:35c and next day on Peacock.  

For 10 years, The 8G Band has filled that role each weeknight on Late Night With Seth Meyers, providing rockin' tunes for guests' entrances, the commercial break, and outros — basically, whenever a smooth transition is required. And Seth Meyers' band has a unique relationship with the Host, in large part because his friend and former Saturday Night Live co-star Fred Armisen is its music director.

RELATED: All About The Roots, Jimmy Fallon's Grammy-Winning House Band

Like Armisen, who was a member of Chicago punk band Trenchmouth before his days on SNL, current and former 8G band members have toured the world in successful rock bands. In fact, two members are headed on the road in summer 2024, with a new album from their "real" band Les Savy Fav on the way. 

Here's everything you need to know about the members of Late Night with Seth Meyers' The 8G Band, from how they were formed to its slate of rotating drummers and celebrity guest members.

Fred Armisen performs with the 8g Band on Late Night With Seth Meyers

Fred Armisen is The 8G Band music director

Fred Armisen is the band's music director and intermittent drummer.

When Armisen is sitting in on drums when he's in New York, Meyers and Armisen also participate in recurring comedy segments. Armisen's even been known to start fake feuds with guests like Amy Poehler.

Fred Armisen Announces His Crutches Museum with Kristen Wiig

Bringing the Portlandia star to Late Night was a suggestion from producer Lorne Michaels, according to Variety.

Per the 2014 article, Armisen "assembled his 8G Band, named for the studio where the show is taped, just two weeks before the test show." He quickly texted fellow musician friends "What are you guys doing this week?"

Who are The 8G Band members?

Seth Jabour plays lead guitar and Syd Butler is on bass. Jabour and Butler are longtime members of Brooklyn-based indie band Les Savy Fav.

Girls Against Boys member Eli Janney was brought on to play keyboard.

The 8G Band poses for a promo shoot

Marnie Stern, who Rolling Stone recently named as one of the "250 greatest guitarists of all time," is a former member who played in The 8G band for eight years.

Syd Butler and Marnie Stern on August 14, 2014

Since September 2022, Karina Rykman has stepped in from time to time to play bass.

Late Night with Seth Meyers' rotating drummers

A series of rotating drummers often sub in for Armisen, due to his busy schedule. Those who have sat in include drummers from iconic bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sound Garden, Guns N' Roses, Pearl Jam, No Doubt, and more.

“When Fred was on Portlandia, I wasn’t sure of his schedule all of the time so I found local players from Brooklyn," Late Night producer Eric Leiderman told Deadline. "Then when I realized he wasn’t going to be here for a chunk of time, I decided to reach out to people like Chad Smith."

RELATED: Will Ferrell and Chad Smith's Twin Drum-Off Belongs in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Leiderman's plan has worked out wonderfully, introducing Late Night audiences to a different drummer – and their epic career — nearly each week.

What kind of music does The 8G Band play?

While house bands usually play covers, The 8G Band actually composes and performs eight pieces of original music for every episode, amounting to 32 pieces of music a week.

“We come in around 1 o’clock or so and we write for an hour or two, depending on how many songs we need,” Janney, who in addition to playing keyboard, is also in charge of the daily recording process, told Mix in 2020.

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“There are three ‘walk-ons’ for the guests—music that they come out to—and we also do five commercial breaks, which are basically two-part instrumental songs," Janney continued. "Seth says, ‘We’ll be right back with more Late Night,’ and we start playing and they go out to commercial, but we keep playing for the audience to keep the energy up in the studio.”

As Armisen revealed in a February 2019 episode of the Late Night With Seth Meyers Podcast, there was talk of using canned music or a DJ before the idea of a house band came together. Also on the episode, Janney also revealed that the band has performed "somewhere between 3,000-4,000 original songs" for the show.

8G Band's celebrity members

In addition to Armisen, the band has been fronted by some famous faces over the years.

Maya Rudolph, Brad Paisley, Kate Pierson from The B-52's, Annie Clark (St. Vincent), The Hold Steady's Craig Finn, and Elle King are just some of the big names to be a guest member of The 8G Band.

Has the 8G Band won any Grammys?

The 8G Band as a whole has not won any Grammys, but former guest members have, including Larnell Lewis, Jack Antonoff, and Glenn Kotche.

It’s Time to Ask Fred a Question

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In a popular recurring bit, Meyers asks Armisen a ridiculous question, which Meyers usually thinks of "last minute while he’s walking from his dressing room to the stage."

“We’ve known each other for so long and worked with each other so closely…[Meyers] knows what subject matter to get into to set up a question,” Armisen told IndieWire. “I purposely just try to clear my mind before he asks me.”

Meyers added, "I only enjoy doing it because I’ve become so comfortable with how fearless Fred is. I would not enjoy this if it was putting someone on the spot who did not enjoy being on the spot.”

RELATED: How to Get Tickets to Late Night with Seth Meyers

The 8G Band doesn't tour, but Les Savy Fav is

The band doesn't tour, but you can catch Les Savy Fav when they hit the road starting in May 2024 to support their 2024 album, Oui, LSF — their first in 14 years.

Spotify playlist

While the 8G Band's original music isn't available on streaming, Armisen created an 8G Band Spotify playlist. First published on the day of the Late Night With Seth Meyers premiere, February 24, 2014, it features some musical inspiration for the then-new talk show.