28th Oct 2014

Late Night Band Drummers Take the Lead

Questlove playing with The Roots at

the 2011 Cisco Ottawa Bluesfest.

By Brennan Schnell (Flickr) [CC-BY-SA-2.0

(http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)],

via Wikimedia Commons

We're used to seeing keyboardists and horn players as bandleaders, but in the world of late-night talk shows, drummers are taking the reigns. Max Weinberg started the trend on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, followed by Questlove on Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show, Robin DiMaggio on The Arsenio Hall Show, and, most recently, Fred Armisen on Late Night with Seth Meyers. In an interview with Eric Ducker, columnist of the NPR music blog's "A Rational Conversation," DiMaggio pointed out that drummers are natural bandleaders because they're meant to drive a band. "You can always start or stop a band more aggressively and quicker behind the drums," he said.

DiMaggio, who has toured with big name artists and is the musical director of the United Nations prefers TV because he can take the lead. "I'm in charge, I can really pick music that I want to play, I can pick music that I want to hear my band play, I get to play with everybody I want to play with, I get to make suggestions that I might not be able to with other people,' he said.

As for whether or not drumming bandleaders is a fad, DiMaggio said, "I think times are changing, where people are demanding more energy on the bandstand on TV." Who better to drive that energy than a drummer, the heart and rhythm of a band? "...the drive to drive a band is always better from a drummer's point of view because we have the actual instrumentation to push a band a lot harder than any other instrument," DiMaggio explained.

Do you think drummers could lead a band beyond the TV bandstand? Get more insights from DiMaggio in Ducker's "What's With All the Drummers Leading Late-Night Bands?"