By: Jennifer Ortega
“It set the bar high for us because right out of the gate we were playing this huge show,” says Mason Maxwell, the Denver-based indie-pop group’s 24-year-old lead singer. Only a week after P O P F I L T E R’s debut single “Empire” released, the group was voted as one of the top three finalists for KTCL 93.3’s Hometown for the Holidays contest, playing their first ever show to roughly a thousand people.
On this particular early evening in the outskirts of Denver, Maxwell has just recently finished working with a local producer. P O P F I L T E R – featuring Maxwell, Brian Vu, and Brad Gruber – has been quietly working on music with the hopes for a release in the late spring or early summer. “More recently we’ve been writing songs off of a specific sound – keyboard batch. It evokes a certain emotion and feeling. We will take that sound and run with it,” says Vu about their process of making music.
Although the trio all grew up in a similar vicinity, P O P F I L T E R didn’t meet until they were all attending university together. After taking a generous amount of time to focus on writing and making music, “Empire” released and immediately caught the attention of many indie-pop fanatics: over 74k views on Youtube and 15k plays on Spotify. “Empire started in the shower,” says Maxwell, elaborating that a single hum would eventually burst into the ears of many people locally and nationally.
“The first year had a lot of exponential growth because of Hometown. It may or may not be reasonable to expect the same amount of growth in the same amount of time,” says Vu. “But you never know, one song could be the trick to skyrocketing.”
P O P F I L T E R is not shy to admit to their business approach, expressing that they go through a lot more planning processes than actual practicing and recording sessions. Every social media post is thoroughly thought-out and the shows they play are just as selective as the songs they put out. Viewing music from a growth perspective allows the group to set goals and focus their time and energy – the main difference between P O P F I L T E R and other bands the members were respectively apart of. “I don’t take myself seriously, but I take my work, the music, seriously. If I’m going to do something, I’m going to do it very well,” Maxwell says.
When it comes to performing at gigs, P O P F I L T E R aims to push themselves to play bigger shows with better music and a better performance. “We want people to be interested in what we are doing and not go through the routine of playing a show; which I think local bands can get sucked into where they are playing the same set to the same people at the same venue over and over again. We are trying to fight that,” Maxwell assures. “We don’t want to be stagnant. We always want to be growing and developing our sound.”
The Denver music scene is exploding with various bands and groups, ranging from all genres of music. Whenever P O P F I L T E R is supporting in the audience at a local show, it is practically inevitable that they will run into someone they know. However, the close-knit community couldn’t be more supportive of the music everyone makes regardless of the competitive industry. “It’s like a healthy competition because we all want to be better than the other bands but we’re always rooting for them as well,” Vu says.
“One band comes out with a really great song and it’s like “Ah, shit! I gotta make a song that’s that good,” Maxwell elaborates. “But at the same time, you’re like “This is great!” You’re happy for them. They’re making good stuff.”
As much as P O P F I L T E R treats their music like a business, it eventually boils down to having fun while making music. If they’re not doing that, then none of the logistics matter. “That’s the foundation for the rest of the band’s business – it’s us making music and having fun. More we do that, the more productive we will be with other things.”
For more information about P O P F I L T E R and their upcoming Denver show with The Griswolds, visit http://www.popfilter.band/