Even before landing on late night television, The Roots were one of the busiest bands in showbiz. Formed by emcee Tariq “Black Thought” Trotter and drummer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson in 1987, the Philadelphia-based crew toured the globe extensively before landing at 30 Rock alongside Jimmy Fallon in March of 2009.
But regardless how road-tested you are, few could move through the schedule that the band held over the past three weeks and not feel at least a little worse for wear. First, The Roots traveled to Phoenix for “The Tonight Show” post-Super Bowl. Then they flew farther west for Fallon’s “LA Week” of shows.
“I’m tired,” Questlove said, pretty matter-of-factly, when I caught up with him the Thursday before The GRAMMYs at a party he was DJ-ing at in Hollywood. “I love the great weather but I can’t wait to get back to New York, to my regular New York routine.”
Still, it was far from all gloom for Thompson.
“(The west coast has) been great. People have been receiving us well,” he continued. “(We’ve had) some of the highest ratings we’ve had and the biggest trending topics we’ve ever done…it’s been awesome. I can’t wait for next year.”
The Roots’ resurrected its pre-GRAMMYs jam with a weeklong jam session, and Questlove backed Ed Sheeran’s John Mayer-assisted performance of “Thinking Out Loud” at Sunday night’s award show. Then the band returned to New York for a week of shows and events leading up to last weekend’s NBA All-Star Game, which was held at Madison Square Garden.
“We’re holding up as well as can be expected,” Trotter told me on Saturday, before The Roots played GQ’s All-Star Party. The emcee was in attendance at an event for a new partnership between Dwyane Wade’s “Wade’s World” and the Sandals Foundation called, “Game Changer.” “It was rough, the two weeks we were out on the west coast, just because we didn’t sleep much.”
However echoing Quest’s sentiments, Tariq felt a sense of accomplishment leaving Los Angeles, successfully completing the run on “The Tonight Show” in LA while bringing the band’s GRAMMY tradition back to life.
“It was definitely a homecoming for ‘The Tonight Show,’” said Trotter. “It was a homecoming for me. I lived in LA for quite a few years and I just love it out there. The only thing that could make it better would be the decision to pick the show up and move back to the west coast, especially during a time like now when the weather is so depressing here on the east coast.”
And that’s coming from someone who is not only well-traveled, but from Philadelphia.