Call up singer Chris Arena to chat about his music — indie, Elliott Smith-style tunes that are fast becoming a staple on Pretty Little Liars — and the Santa Monica-based artist might get distracted by his bulldog puppy.
“His name is Monte, and he’s the funniest dog,” Chris told Wetpaint Entertainment during a recent chat. It’s probably a good thing Monte is so funny and lighthearted because Chris’s discography is anything but!
His songs tell stories of heartbreak and longing, which makes him the perfect fit for the Pretty Little Liars soundtrack. So far, three of his tracks have appeared on our favorite ABC Family series, with two more to come. But his most recent entry might be his most memorable. His song “Train” provided the soundtrack for that heartbreaking Caleb (Tyler Blackburn) and Hanna (Ashley Benson) breakup in January 7’s winter premiere.
While Caleb sat alone and heartbroken in his car, Chris’s words fluttered through his speakers. “I'm gonna ride this train till it seems alright / New York felt so big when you're at my side / It’s such a lonely ride in a city thats so bright and so dark / If only it were right the city would seem brighter tonight.”
Watching Caleb and Hanna break up was hard for Pretty Little Liars fans, and Chris told us that the reaction to his song has been intense — much more than he expected. “People were really affected by the breakup. All over my YouTube feeds and Twitter feeds, people were saying how much they miss Caleb and they were crying and they were sad and this song makes them sad but they love it.”
It’s an emotional song, but one that resonates with a lot of people. “The reaction has been phenomenal,” he said. “People have really enjoyed the song.” That in itself has been a gift to the singer-songwriter. “To me, that song meant more than any song because I wrote it at a really low time in my life. When Pretty Little Liars played it, it was very emotional.”
Chris also revealed that the track stemmed from his own personal heartache. “I’m not going to lie,” he said. “It’s been a very therapeutic experience. I’m pretty grateful that I have the ability to just sit down and write and let it all out.”
With his heartbreak behind him, Chris is now looking toward the future. PLL included his song "Yes It Do" in the Season 4 summer finale and “Babyfish” in Season 4, Episode 10. On January 28, his song “City Inside Me” will play twice during the episode, and another song, “Close Window” will show up sometime in April.
But that’s not all! His new album, One’s Not Half Two, comes out on January 28, and it features both “City Inside Me” and the Haleb breakup song, “Train.” And if that wasn’t enough, he has another album, a collaboration with Blackout Cash, slated for February.
Oh, and just in case you were wondering: yes, Chris does plan to watch the Pretty Little Liars episodes in which his songs will appear — and he’s betting that Monte will be there to join him.
“He watches Pretty Little Liars, we’re going to watch Ravenswood tonight together, so he’s like my new girlfriend.”
Chris’s album, “One’s Not Half Two” comes out on January 28, but is available for pre-order on iTunes. The Haleb breakup single, “Train,” is already available.