All Punked Up had a chance to talk to Chris Santos from Painted Young who just released his first solo EP in the band, I’m Not Going To Wait. Here, Chris explains the inspirations behind the new music, his friendly split with his bandmates, and what it’s like to record alone.
Q. You started Painted Young in 2013, released an EP with your former bandmates in 2016, and now releasing a newly-branded Painted Young with you as a solo artist. How’d that all go down over the years?
A. As you said, we released our first EP and it was an awesome time for us. Being in a band was really new to us and it was like a honeymoon phase. However not all of us were as understanding of the work it took to maintain the band and whatnot. Over the years we’d play shows with either incomplete lineups or fill-in players. It got to a point where I was the only one attracting fans, posting on the band pages, and doing whatever promotion I could. It wasn’t like they didn’t treat it as a priority. I knew they thought of the band as such, but I just don’t think they had the time to treat it as such. After a long period of the band plateauing/declining, our drummer at the time said it was his time to leave. And as if that didn’t hit me hard, our guitarist said the same thing on that same exact day. There were no hard feelings at all because life just gets in the way sometimes and you can’t really stop that.
Q. You’ve been the sole character of the band even when your former bandmates were alongside with you, is the recording process/live show different than it was before style wise?
A. The recording process was definitely very different for this new EP. I was able to take full control of where I wanted the songs to go. Since I can play guitar, bass, drums, AND sing, there wasn’t any need for me to wait on anyone besides myself and my recording engineer, J.R. Sanson. As much as it took a bigger toll on my wallet, I’d say it was very much worth it. As for the live shows, I try to bring together a backup band to perform with me as often as possible. Lately, my backup band has consisted of Bailey Hand on drums, Ray McGirr on bass, and Derek Hona on guitar. Those guys are very talented and quick learners, so it’s really awesome for them to play the parts that I wrote and bring my music to life onstage. Plus it’s easier for me to be a frontman and interact with the crowd that way.
Q. Are there any challenges being solo on this new journey?
I’ve actually been enjoying my career as a solo artist so far. I’d say one of the few challenges I deal with is money. I can’t really split any bills with other band members since I’m the only one now. I make jokes about it a lot but I wouldn’t really consider it a struggle. It’s all just part of the job and I love it. Another challenge I’ve dealt with before was networking. Sometimes it’s really hard for me to break out of my shell and just talk to people. Promoting my band through word of mouth was a little bit of a struggle, but I’m getting the hang of it.
Q. What do your former bandmates have to say about you carrying on the band? In your words, you got, “their blessing.” Is there anything fans should know more about the decision?
Like I said before, the decision was actually really quick. There were no arguments or doubts from them. They all told me to go for it and the decision was made. It was a weird time before the transition. Some people only thought of Painted Young as “Chris Santos’ band with other people sometimes.” I’m not kidding when I say someone actually made that joke to me. The thought of me turning Painted Young into a solo act was thrown around from time to time, mostly by people outside of the band. But that would’ve just made me feel a bit guilty and I still wanted the other guys to have a say in everything we did. I held off on mentioning the idea of the solo project until I knew everyone’s stance on the band. When everyone had agreed on splitting up, that was when I presented the idea to them. They didn’t seem to take any time before saying “yes.” They knew how passionate I was about it, and the name Painted Young had already gained a decently sized fanbase. We all knew that throwing the name away would’ve been detrimental if I were going to continue making music anyway.
Q. Is there anything new you’re doing with your music? What can fans expect from you?
Well I can promise that no two songs sound the same on this EP. I’ve always had a tendency to write music that was on the “pop” side of pop punk. However as people have already heard with “The Madhouse,” I’ve been really digging into my emotions more with my vocals. There’s one song called “Want your song? Here you go.” where the pace of the verses is a lot quicker than I’m used to. My recording engineer actually thought I was rapping. But other than that, it’s a pretty diverse pop punk/pop rock EP.
Q. Is there any inspiration behind the music you’re writing and your new EP I’m Not Going To Wait?
Around the time of writing, I was mainly influenced by bands that I’d say were typical of me. I was listening to Yellowcard’s self-titled record a lot. I was also listening to Green Day’s latest record “Revolution Radio,” as well as Blink-182’s “California.” A lot of pop punk bands really helped shape the music I wanted to write. But also later on in the writing process, I was really into some poppier music like Walk the Moon. So I’d say this EP is a pretty good mix of the rock sound and poppy grooves. Whether it’s about love, mental health, or heartbreak, each song on this EP relates to something I’ve been through.
Q. What is your future plan? Where do you hope to see Painted Young go in the next year or two?
As for the future, I really would love to reach a bigger audience and maybe start touring finally. Within the next few years, I’m hoping to make progress with this EP. It’s also very likely that a full length album will be released in the next few years. That’s really the main goal: more music, more shows, and hopefully more fans!
Be sure to check out Painted Young’s latest EP below. And read our thoughts on it by clicking here!