James Wormworth & Mike Merritt

280 – The journey to late night TV: Conan O’Brien’s James Wormworth and Mike Merritt

Over the years I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know James Wormworth and the story of how he landed the Conan O’Brien gig is nothing short of awesome. What most people don’t know is that he has been playing in this band for 23 years, but only a fraction of that has been televised. The “Basic Cable Band” as they’re called now started as Jimmy Vivino and the Black Italians, playing at Downtime – a small club in NYC. This turned into as a weekly gathering of friends to play music, share laughs and blow off a little steam. Where it went from there is a story that needs to be told. Adding to the mix is renowned bassist, Mike Merritt who’s been playing with James (or “Worm” as he’s affectionally referred to by friends) for 23 years and for Conan O’Brien since “Late Night with Conan O’Brien” since 1993.

James Wormworth and Mike Merritt talk about:

  • Getting gigs early in their career
  • How James and Mike met
  • Playing with Johnny Johnson
  • Forming Jimmy Vivino and the Black Italians
  • How they (or most of them) got the Conan O’Brien gigS
  • Making the transition to LA
  • The Conan O’Bien / Jay Leno fiasco
  • Moving to TBS
  • The demands of playing on television
  • The difference between playing “live” vs for TV
  • The history of Stage 15 (where they record the show)
  • Much more

Resources / Links / People mentioned:

James Wormworth Plays:

  • DW Drums
  • Zildjian Sticks and Cymbals
  • Evans Drumheads

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