The NJ-based pop-punk project Painted Young started as a cover band back in 2013. They played songs from bands like Green Day, blink-182, Fall Out Boy, All Time Low, and more. In 2015, the band self-released their debut EP ‘Looking Forward to Never Looking Back’. They have played many venues around New Jersey including The Brighton Bar, The Stone Pony, The Stanhope House, and Starland Ballroom. The band has also opened for artists like Richie Ramone, Johnnie Guilbert, and SayWeCanFly. Despite numerous lineup changes, lead singer and songwriter Chris Santos never gave up. Now a solo artist, Painted Young just released a single called “The Madhouse” on February 22nd.

Q: How excited are you about your single “The Madhouse”? How would you describe it?

A: I’m really stoked and excited to have people hear it, especially since this is the first song I’m releasing since 2017. I’d describe the song as a little more chaotic than what I’ve done in the past, as well as darker and a bit heavier. It’s definitely an outlier and stands out from the rest of my music.

Q: What was the inspiration for writing “The Madhouse”? What is the story behind the song?

A: My inspiration for the song was mostly horror movies that take place in insane asylums and mental hospitals. I wanted to make it a bit personal as well and use that environment as a metaphor for my own experiences with mental health. There are times where I get frustrated with my struggles and it just feels like I’m isolated with no way out. This song contains that anger and frustration I feel in those moments.

Q: What are your favorite lyrics in “The Madhouse”? Why?

A: I think my favorite lyrics in the song are “Woke up in a straitjacket and strapped down to my bed.” This is mainly because there have been some days where I’ve woken up with no desire to get out of bed or any motivation to do anything. Sometimes I’d just stay in my bed until 4 pm or maybe even later in a few occasions. It was a real issue I’ve had for a long time where I felt like I was mentally strapped into my bed.

Q: The cover art for “The Madhouse” features a castle and a purple dragon. How was that direction for the artwork chosen?

A: You’ll notice that for a little while, I’ve been telling a typical fairy tale story through the single artwork, starting with “Little Girl” (done by Samantha Mills), then with “Summer Come Back” (done by Nicole Houdalis). When it came time to make art for the new music I didn’t wanna abandon the story. Since “Little Girl” and “Summer Come Back” will be on the upcoming EP with “The Madhouse” anyway, I figured I could keep the theme going and I reached out to Nicole. For this cover art specifically, I really wanted to emphasize the castle and the dragon because I think it resembles that unhealthy environment with no escape. In that sense, it’s similar to an actual madhouse.

Q: Do you have any shows coming up that you are able to tell me about?

A: I do have some shows booked in March and April, however, I can’t give out details just yet. I will say that I’m planning a show in Asbury Park celebrating the release of my new EP in April! Keep an eye out for more details!

Q: What is the local music scene around New Jersey like?

A: I’m sure everyone within the NJ scene has a different experience, but for me personally, I’ve gotten so much support from everyone. 2018 was a rebuilding year for Painted Young after I turned into a solo artist. Throughout that year, I’ve built so many connections and I got so much love and support from fans and artists in the local scene.

Q: Do you have a fun, funny, or interesting story you can tell about a local show you played or attended?

A: There was this one show we played in 2015 when Painted Young was still a 4-piece. We were playing a festival in my hometown called Aberdeen Day. We were having so much fun on stage and it was an awesome set. We were playing our last song and we put all our energy into it. However halfway through the song, the stage’s power goes out. No sound is coming through the amps, no one can hear me singing, so we stopped. Even though we stopped playing, our drummer is STILL playing the rest of the song! He finished the song by himself then the power came back on almost immediately after. We didn’t have time to start over or pick up where we left off so we just had to end the show with that. It was an awesome set, but there couldn’t have been a more awkward but funny ending to a show.

Q: I noticed that you have covered a variety of songs. Do you have a favorite one?

A: Out of all the songs I’ve covered on YouTube, my personal favorite is “It’s Not Living (If It’s Not With You)” by the 1975. Another favorite is “My Heart I Surrender” by I Prevail and that one has the most views out of all my cover videos!

Q: Overall, what message do you hope your music sends to listeners?

A: I really want my music to let people know they’re not alone and pain is temporary. If any of my songs can pull you away from any distress and make you feel good, even for a little bit, then I’d call it a success.

Q: Is there anything else in store for Painted Young in 2019 that you can share at this time?

A: In April I’ll be releasing my new EP “I’m Not Gonna Wait,” which I am beyond excited for. It’s been a long time since I released new music so I am ecstatic about this new single and EP. I’ll definitely be playing more shows and I’ll announce them as they come. I can’t say for sure what else there will be in 2019 but I’m always writing and recording new demos. At the rate I’m going at, there might be potential for even more new music by the end of the year. We’ll see what happens! Go ahead and follow my socials to stay updated!