Feature Stories

Jordan Richardson Dishes on Jimmy Kimmel and the Best Green Room in Late Night TV

Jordan Richardson is no stranger to late night television. The Grammy winning Fort Worth producer and front man of the band Son of Stan, who's toured with Ben Harper and Ringo Starr, has played them all: David Letterman, Jay Leno, The Daily Show, Craig Ferguson and Conan O'Brien (all three of Late Night, The Tonight Show and Conan). But his appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last week with Domo Genesis might be his favorite yet.

"When I did the stuff with Ben Harper and was onstage with a Beatle, the last thing you want to do is do anything that takes attention away from the Beatle," Richardson says with a laugh over the phone, while driving from his recording studio in Fort Worth to a gig with Oil Boom at Granada Theater. "This one was just incredible."

Richardson joined Genesis and guest rapper Anderson .Paak for the song "Dapper," which he had played drums on for the recorded version from Genesis' album Genesis, which was released last March. He'd first been connected with Genesis thanks to a friend he'd gone to high school and college with, Victor Wainstein, who's long collaborated with Genesis and other members of the Odd Future crew.

"When I lived in Los Angeles, I was roommates and great friends with a guy named Larry Sheffey and I connected those two guys," Richardson remembers. Wainstein and Sheffey started working together under the name Garcia Bros., and together produced a handful of the tracks on Genesis, including "Dapper," which was the lead single.

"They had me play drums on the some of the sessions," Richardson says, including "Dapper." "Initially it started as a studio thing for the record, but Domo enjoyed the hell out of it so he wanted to present that as a live band thing."
So Richardson found himself back in Kimmel's studio at the Hollywood Masonic Temple, recording the performance that aired on Tuesday, July 19. It was a much more laid back experience than the last time he'd been on Kimmel's stage — or any late night stage, for that matter.

"When I was with Ben, it was a different time of my life from where I am now. It was a little bit expected because he had such a great track record and was always working on so much material that there was always something to promote," Richardson says. "This was more of a surprise because my friends flipped a beat, it wound up on a record, they had me play drums on it and Domo enjoyed it. ... It was very organic."

The last time Richardson played Kimmel, he also lived nearby. Coming from Fort Worth made for a different experience this time around.

"It always felt real crazy to just hop in a car and drive to the late night show you're going to play on, rather than flying in like I would do for the New York stuff," he says. "It always felt cool to be in your own neighborhood, take your own car there, park in the parking lot and go to the dressing room."

The green room, by the way, is one of the most distinctive parts of the Kimmel late-night experience. Stocked with a full bar and bartender, it's a party hub that runs all night, as soon as filming starts.

"Everybody gets a guest list. ... It has couches and a bar and it's fully catered, so it makes it feel like you're at the bar and out partying," Richardson says. In fact, you never know who might show up: "I did run into one of the Hemsworths; I don't know if it was Chris or Liam. He looked like he was made out of stone. It was pretty surreal to see this guy who's literally a super hero in the movies."

Not every late night show has such an easygoing party vibe: "Letterman was incredible because you're in the Ed Sullivan Theater in a tiny dressing room, you go down in a tiny elevator; he's all business, walks up and says thank you. He complimented my drums," Richardson says. "By the time we were in the elevator going back to the dressing room after our performance, Letterman was in sweat pans and a letter man jacket, literally leaving to go home."

Richardson didn't get a chance to speak with Kimmel this time around, although he's met him in the past through an old roommate. "I met Jimmy Kimmel's 17-year-old son [this time], who's taller than me and a 6-foot-5 dude. Super chill," he says. "I don't know if he comes to a lot of the tapings, but he was there."

Steeled with a drink from the green room bar to help "calm the nerves" ("There's always a bit of anxiety," he admits), Richardson says the important part to playing "Dapper" was simply hitting his marks. "On that particular performance, there's a click track I have to play to, so I was worried about the logistics of the performance," he says. "Being the drummer, you kind of anchor those performances by counting off the song. You just want to make sure don't fuck it up when it all starts."

In the end, despite the fact that Genesis and the Garcia Bros. had never played late night television before, Richardson — who's about to go on the road playing drums for White Denim — says it was the most laid back and "natural" experience he's had. The layout of the Kimmel stage, which puts the crowd right in front of the band, helped with that, too.

"The audience is standing in front of you, so it's a club-like atmosphere. That makes it way better than just being surrounded by the crew and 100 feet from anyone in the audience," Richardson says. "[On Kimmel], there's 200 people right in front of the stage, so it felt like a show at Club Dada."
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Jeff Gage
Contact: Jeff Gage