— by Corey Moss, with reporting by Iann Robinson
The members of Waltham, a power pop quintet named after a western suburb of Boston, sometimes joke that they took their name because Boston was no longer available.
Perhaps though, they settled on Waltham because Rick Springfield was already taken.
The "Jessie's Girl" singer is the inspiration behind the band and a hero to its members.
"As far as music goes, who else tells it better than Ricky Springfield?" singer Frank Pino asked, taking a break at the Boston tattoo parlor he co-owns to talk about Waltham. "It just seems that he said stuff the way stuff should be said, [especially] if you are the kind of person who doesn't take yourself too seriously and is not too shy to wear your feelings on your sleeve."
That's a pretty good explanation of Waltham, who appeal to emo fans with their sensitive lyrics, but blow away rock kids with their commanding guitar force and sheer energy.
The group, which features singer Pino, guitarist Craig Small, guitarist Tony Monaco, bassist Peet Golan and drummer Mikey Rorick, has been a live favorite in Boston since it was formed four years ago, winning over audiences with its '80s-inspired performances.
"It's not an intentional retro sound, we're just not afraid to indulge in some music things that we like about music from a particular time period," Small explained.
"We would almost be lying if we didn't use, for lack of better phrasing, a formula of music that we all agree on and we all grew up on and we can say, 'Yeah, I remember that,' " Pino added.
Waltham recently released their debut full-length, Permission to Build, which includes the singles "Hopeless" and "Say It Again," along with four songs named after different girls.
"There may have been one or two girlfriends that the songs are written about, but we're just telling stories from day-to-day, and we happen to have day-to-day stories that involve girls," Pino said. "That's pretty much it."
Pino said the band's songwriting abilities are what make Waltham such a tight unit, able to set aside male machismo to share feelings about life experiences.
"The songs that stick are the ones that are, like, actually really personal, stuff that we shouldn't say out loud," Pino said. "Those are the ones that are the coolest to write, because they come out really natural. ... We like to be detailed about [topics;] then we just add that sort of shiny Rick Springfield or whatever to it. We tell the tale. It's kinda like we are scoring the story."
"The song is the most important thing," Craig added. "Bands don't live without songs, but songs live without bands, you know."
Just because Waltham take songwriting seriously, that doesn't mean the songs are always serious. In fact, more often than not, they offer something to smile about. "If you can have fun with what we're saying to you, then we can sit back and be like, 'Oh, that's not so bad,' " Pino said.
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