The members of Lakewood pop-punk quartet the Mazlows took their band name from Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, the psychological theory that ranks a person’s requirements in life — things like food, shelter and self-actualization.
They added the z to the spelling for flair.
“We kind of figured out a lot of the things we needed to figure out in life,” singer and guitarist Colton Kooker says of the name choice. “We all have girlfriends, wives, houses and jobs, but mentally what we really needed in our lives was punk rock."
The band's members — Kooker, Daniel "Beatmaster D" Carrillo, Nate "N8" Hout and Peter Hodel — have known each other since childhood and played music together for more than a decade, but they went their separate ways after high school. The Mazlows started in 2017, after they all found themselves living in Lakewood again.
The group has dropped a three-song EP — which Kooker now finds rough, and hard to listen to — a video and a handful of singles in its three-year run. A new single, “Leaving Town,” premieres this week ahead of the band’s first full-length, the fourteen-track Community Locker, due out sometime in August.
The guitar riff on “Leaving Town” is actually fifteen years old, according to the band's members, but the chorus was written when they all hit their thirties. They see the mix of old and new as a way to measure their growth as musicians over the years.
“Leaving Town,” according to Kooker, is about being disenchanted with your home town — a classic pop-punk trope. But the Mazlows chose the song for their first single because of the climate brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic that made us all pack on ten extra pounds and lose any sort of tan we once had.
“I think a lot of people are getting cabin fever and just want to get out, go on a vacation right now,” Kooker says. “It’s kind of interesting to see how this song almost had a new meaning just because of the timing. We were just really resonating with it.”
The four worked on Community Locker for more than a year, sometimes spending twelve hours at a time recording and re-recording songs. They also produced and mastered the record themselves, watching what Kooker describes as a lot of YouTube tutorials on music engineering.
The effort is apparent on “Leaving Town,” which is structurally complex and centers around Beatmaster D’s drumming theatrics, as do most of the band's songs.
“He’s just so talented, and he just really cared about getting the best sound possible,” Kooker says. “We’d just do a take a thousand times to get it right. I think our drums are a little more front and center than a lot of punk bands do.”
The Mazlows' sound, although the band's own, evokes a late 1990s/early 2000s teen-comedy soundtrack — catchy, hook-laden anthems about girls coming or leaving and the town you living in sucking. Pop punk was a wildly popular moment in music, and punk purists loved to hate it. At least in public. (How many self-proclaimed Battalion of Saints fans were actually secret Dookie lovers, we may never know.) The Mazlows count among their influences Blink-182 — probably the picture in the dictionary next to “pop punk” — alongside ska punk outfit Goldfinger, recently back from obscurity on YouTube, and New Jersey punkers the Bouncing Souls.
They bring in some synth elements, and, though it’s not readily apparent in their sound, Kooker says they owe a bit to the electronic dance music that blew up over the past couple of decades.
“You aren’t going to find us on any kind of EDM compilation or anything,” he says. “But, you know, we’ve got some synths sprinkled in. It gives it a nice little touch.”
For more information, visit the Mazlows website.