• Darby VanDeVeen

Meet Foxglove: an alt-rock band from SoCal sure to have you up and dancing

Foxglove is a three-piece alternative rock band made up of Alex Rippeon (lead vocals/guitar), Jayden Carbajal (bass), and Tristen Biszantz (drums). The trio uses their differing musical backgrounds to come together and create alt-rock in a new and inventive way. Each of their songs have catchy lyrics and have all-around danceability. Based in Southern California, the boys are releasing a new EP in September and starting to play live shows again. I got the chance to sit down with them and talk about their band’s evolution, new music, and their thoughts on live music being back.

How did you guys all meet and get started as a band?

Jayden: Tristen and I started the first iteration of this band in high school in our sophomore year, probably like six or seven years ago. And then we've kind of gone through different iterations and different band members. We got Alex around 2018-ish, because we had a guitarist leave so we pulled him on board to fill in for a show with us. And then we had different members shuffle in and out. Eventually, Alex became the lead singer and lead guitarist. I moved to bass and Tristen’s been the drummer for as long as we can remember.

Tristen: We’re all really close together and even throughout all the iterations, this is the most cohesive we’ve ever been. The most connected, definitely.

Could you describe your sound and overall vibe in five words or less for people who might not know who you are and what your music is like?

Alex: Diverse - we can't really pinpoint a certain sound because all of our songs are kind of different. Upbeat - Most of them are very upbeat.

Tristen: Energetic.

Jayden: Angsty. And fun.

That's always a hard question because it's so hard to describe it in a few words - it's always so much more than that. How did you guys choose the name Foxglove?

Jayden: We actually got the name from our old guitarist. We’ve gone through a few names. We used to be called Bad Mojo back in high school and then we shifted into Mantra. And then we were sort of fading away from that band name so our guitarist was like why don’t we call ourselves Foxglove. It’s the name of a plant that's beautiful but poisonous and we were like “yeah, that sounds dope!” So we picked it and we’ve liked it ever since.

Tristen: It's a flower specifically. I just wanted you to know it wasn’t just a random plant. Beautiful but deadly, which is the epitome of angst which we all are inside.

Jayden: But in high school, we were just like yeah that’s dope!

I never would have guessed it was a flower.

Jayden: A lot of people are like “oh, a fox with gloves” and we’re like no, it’s a plant.

Tristen: A lot of our logos and artwork has the foxglove on it, like the flower.

I will be honest, my first thought was a fox with gloves on it.

Tristen: We're spreading awareness one person at a time.

I heard that you guys have an EP coming out soon. Is there anything you can reveal about it ahead of time?

Jayden: Half of it is songs that we've written before that we’ve recorded and we want to re-envision or redo and half of the songs have been written since then. Before we had a bassist that was with us that was a really core member of the group. He left last year, and since then, we’ve completely changed our sound. We had an EP up before that was on Spotify, and we took it down because it just wasn't our sound anymore. I was singing. I don’t sing anymore. The bassist was playing bass and I play bass now. So half of it's gonna be songs that people who go to our live shows, know and love and request for us to play. And then the other half of the songs are a lot newer that we’ve written since the other bassist left.

Are the two songs you have up now, “Overnight” and “Sadist” going to be on the EP?

Tristen: They’ll be on there. Those are two of the new ones that we have created in this trio. Some of the old ones we’ve had for a pretty long time. There's one that's called “Meridian” that was among one of the first songs that Jay and I wrote together back in like 2017. We still play those songs but, obviously, over time, we’ve grown as musicians and our music tastes change. What we like to do changes, so it's constantly evolving. This one that we’re going to put on the EP now is kind of a snapshot of where we're at.

Alex: It’s definitely our attempt at starting to diversify and branch off into other genres that we really wanna play. We are not defining ourselves to any specific genre. We love making what we want to write.

Yeah, definitely. When you guys go back and revisit those older songs do you put that new twist on it and adapt it to where you are now?

Jayden: Yeah, we try to. I feel like we don't want to change too much because they are rock-oriented and we’ve grown as a rock band but into other genres as well. We still wanna stay true to that song at its core. We don’t want to change it too much, but we definitely try to elevate it from where it was before. We’ll add new elements and textures so that it’s not taking away from what we loved about it in the first place.

Tristen: It was kind of cool because the old songs we have recorded were obviously with a fourth member. And now that he left, we have to revisit songs and be like ‘okay, there's not as many of us now so we have to figure out what the core of the song is and keep that, then we can change it to how we're feeling now, and to the people that we have. So it was a good way to revamp everything not just out of necessity, but also to how we are right now.

It'd be cool to see the evolution of where you guys started versus where you are now.

Tristen: We have our very first show ever on YouTube. And it is not very good. It was like early 2016 and I remember very vividly I had like one song with one drum bit and I was dreading that moment that entire night. I don’t remember if I did it right or not, probably not, but now we’re a lot more natural at our instruments and it’s a little less nerve-wracking to be playing now.

Alex: Specifically with “Meridian,” this will be our third time fully recording it, so we have the previous two recordings of “Meridian” that we can compare. That would be a good way to see how we've evolved.

Absolutely! Who do you guys think are your biggest inspirations and where do you draw from?

Jayden: I feel like as a whole we all draw a little bit, a lot actually, from the 1975 - that’s like our common ground. That and 90s bands like Nirvana. But asides from that we all have our own individual stuff that we bring to the table. In our music, we like to celebrate our differences, and then come together as one. I come from a jazz background so jazz and funk are kinda what I like to bring to the band when I play the keys or when I play the bass.

Tristen: Yeah, I grew up with a lot of alternative rock like Jayden said but a little more, like Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters and other bands like those. I also listen to more blues-rock too so that it influences the way I take up drumming and view percussion.

Alex: I grew up listening to pop-punk and classic rock so I really love the instrumentation. I also listen to a lot of metal. Recently I've been listening to a lot of pop so I’ve been trying to take from a lot of vocal techniques that Post Malone or The Kid LAROI uses. And then instrumentally metal bands and classic rock bands.

Tristen: It’s interesting to see how all of our different inspirations from pretty different genres come together and make a whole unit.

It definitely makes the sound unique and you can hear different inspirations from it when you listen to it. I also saw that you guys have some live shows coming up. Have you done any yet and are you excited to start performing again?

Jayden: In this current version of the band and post COVID we’ve done one show so far, so we’re very excited to get out there. It's been way too long and it’s definitely different because we shuffled around so much it feels like an entirely new band. I know that the first time I played bass on a stage I was scared as hell.

Tristen: After a year and a half of everything being shut down, we were just in this room playing together and finally we were like on a stage in front of a bunch of people and we were just like “oh, it’s been a while.”

Alex: I’d forgotten what it felt like to play a live show entirely, but as soon as I got up there and I'm pretty sure it's the same for these guys, after the first few minutes of the first song it was just the best feeling in the entire world. Especially when there are people in the audience who are really cheering for you and are there for you.

Tristen: It’s like all those nerves just float away and we’re just doing this - we put a lot of practice into our shows obviously so we were like ‘this is what the practice is for’ and we can just let loose and have fun. There are people in the audience who are happy we’re playing live so it becomes a good time instead of a nerve-wracking time.

I can't even imagine how it feels to start playing again after not being able to.

Tristen: It’s really cool because everyone else is stoked for live shows too, everyone's happy. We’re happy to be playing and they're happy to be hearing stuff and seeing people.

Of course. After your EP is released, what's next for you guys?

Alex: We've already written so much more music. So we’re really excited to put out a few singles, keep making content, keep making what we want to make.

Jayden: We want to get out there and play as much as we can with the EP coming out.

Tristen: It's gonna be a balance of us always wanting to write music but then also wanting to play shows. It's like, ‘okay, which one is more important?’ but they're both really important.

That was the last question I have written for you guys that you want people to know?

Jayden: Yeah, just keep a lookout for our EP which should be coming around September.

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