Many children dream of becoming famous musicians, athletes or scientists, but for four Elon University students, that dream is one step closer to becoming real. Three sophomores — James Setzer, Brett Cashmer and Matt Snow — and junior Mike Hagen connected musically upon their first weeks as students. Forming the band that would become The Tripps, the men were signed by Elon’s Limelight Music Group.
“It started with Matt Snow, our guitarist,” Setzer said. “He moved into our suite in Hook and I saw him bringing in three guitar cases and a huge amp, and he saw my bass and he said we should jam. I think we jammed that night and played pretty well together.”
The roommates met Cashmer during an orientation session when he introduced himself and said he played guitar and sang throughout high school. He brought an acoustic guitar with him. The three boys started playing together casually, but were quickly on their way to becoming a band.
The band, at that point without a drummer, went to audition for Limelight. The Elon-based record label was interested in working with the guys, and even connected the then freshman students to Hagen, a drummer.
Creating a band
The Tripps wanted a name that sounded cool, fun and edgy, which is how they came to title the group.
“It has no significant meaning whatsoever to us,” Setzer said. “There is a diner in my town [Hickory, NC] called Tripps and it has since been demolished and so I thought, if they’re not using this for a name, we should use it.”
Setzer describes their music aesthetic as angsty 90s rock.
“We try to do a lot of crowd-pleasers, stuff from everyone’s elementary school age or stuff from the 90s that everyone knows the words to, just because we like people to come out and see us,” Cashmer said. “But there’s always a few songs in there that are kind of for us. We have five or six originals now and we’re hoping to get into the studio this May to record a full-length album.”
Underneath all the campus praise and accomplishments, the band is just four guys who truly love music and performing live.
“For me, this is what I’ve grown up loving,” Cashmer said. “I started playing piano when I was four years old and started performing shows in my family room when I was five. I just kept wanting to learn more and more songs, keep singing, learning lyrics. After that, it’s just what you’re passionate about.”
Even though three-fourths of the band are not music majors, the band provides a creative expression that contrasts the world of facts and statistics as business majors. The boys are close, often behaving like best friends who seem to laugh and joke with one another.
Big goals ahead
The men's goals are to play Wembley Stadium in London, England and to play in the Super Bowl halftime show.
“We were the first live music to ever perform Festivus last year, which I was shocked that no one said let’s put a live band in a mud pit,” Cashmer said.
The band has been able to record and film their own music videos. Their upcoming video for “Carolina” will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the boys in the studio, which showcases the goofy friends as they pursue their passions.
Since last fall, the four boys have since played even more live shows, recorded several songs and shot music videos. Cashmer hopes to see the band reach as many people as possible, both on- and off-campus, and seeing what can happen.
“I just hope we can keep doing gigs and bringing music to people,” Hagen said. “There’s not enough live music on campus and I like being part of the effort to keep it alive.”
As North Carolina’s weather warms up with the spring season, The Tripps expect more outdoor performances, an EP and an original music video.
“If you’d have told me the day before I went to Elon that I would meet a group of guys immediately, we would click, we would form a band, we would make a music video and we would have an EP, I would say you’re insane,” Setzer said. “But what do you know, dreams really do come true. Maybe rock stardom isn't just a fantasy.”