Interview: Peej of Punk Rock Factory

As well as just completing their most successful UK headline tour to date, South Wales pop punk powerhouses Punk Rock Factory have just released their latest opus – and homage to musicals – ‘It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through’. PRF vocalist/guitarist  Peej Edwards was on call to talk about both the album and the tour, as well as where the band’s connection with sausages came from, and how everything sounds better pop punk.

Are you still flying high after the tour has just finished? That was an insane run there!

It was, yes. It was amazing. We had the best time.

It must have been fantastic to see the tour poster with “Sold Out” all over it.

It blew us away! It still blows us away even now! We still look at the poster and just laugh! It’s unbelievable [laughs] The shows varied quite a bit, capacities went from 300 – 400, up to Nottingham Rock City with 1,900, and Cardiff Great Hall with 1,500. And to have them sold out was unbelievable.

Sold-out venues are a sign that maybe things are getting back to normal after the lockdown.

It certainly feels like that. After being on the road these last few weeks it certainly feels like the world is back to what it was before the lockdown, if not better to be honest because everyone is happier to be there.

Why do you think that Punk Rock Factory has struck a chord with so many people? Is it as simple as after the last three horrible years or so people just want to have a good time again?

As awful as Covid was, it kind of worked so well for us because all of a sudden everyone was at home; everyone was bored; everybody that had kids needed them entertaining…so Covid was a good time for us to get in front of people as everyone was on Instagram or TikTok or Facebook, and watching YouTube videos. It was the ideal opportunity for us, so in that respect, it paid off really well. And with our albums we’ve continued with themes; we’ve done Disney, the retro TV stuff, then more Disney, and now musicals… we try and hone these themes to groups of people that are super passionate about that particular thing. As you can imagine, fans of Disney, Retro TV, and musicals, are die-hard fans, and if we can continue to theme our albums to appeal to these die-hard fans then it’s always going to work because everything sounds better pop punk.

You mentioned kids there, one of the great things about Punk Rock Factory is that it is inclusive to all age groups. Most of the venues of the tour later this year will be ages 8+, and not only that but your merchandise starts from age 3 upward, it seems important to the band that the younger audience is catered for in every way possible.

That’s so true. The one thing that we got – especially on our first tour – was people our age who have kids coming up to us saying “You’ve helped me build a bond with my kid”. The kids want to listen to Disney, and the adults hate it and want to listen to some punk, but the kids don’t want to listen to that so we combine the two, and all of a sudden the family can listen to something that everyone can enjoy. That was a kind of an accident as we didn’t intend that, but it has worked out super well. Some shows depending on venue restrictions will be 14+ and we do get a lot of comments about people not being able to bring their kids because of the age restrictions, so for the October tour we have really gone in and tried to make as many shows as we can accessible to as many age groups as we can. On the tour that we have just done, so many of the shows were 8+ and it was amazing looking out into the crowd and there were people there from the age of 6 all the way up to 66. It’s so good to see, and for us what we love about it is that when we were 6 years old there was always that band or that singer that got you into music, and if we can be that band for a 6-year-old – and they go on to play drums or whatever – then they will never forget that. I still remember exactly what I was listening to at that age, and that’s class that.

The new album ‘It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through’ is themed around musicals, and musicals can have an unfair reputation as being quite whimsical and maybe a tad twee, but they can be pretty damn dark. For instance ‘You’ll Be Back’ from Hamilton has the incredible lines: “When you’re gone/I’ll go mad/So don’t throw away this thing we had/’’Cause when push comes to shove/I will kill your friends and family to remind you of my love…” …insane lyrics!

I know! [laughs]

Can you imagine those lines with death metal growls?!

Yes! It’s also like that with ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables, I mean the back story to that one is bleak! [laughs]

Anne Hathaway singing “But the tigers come at night/With their voices soft as thunder/As they tear your hope apart/As they turn your dream to shame” with death growls would be intriguing…has there ever been any times when you are recording an album and you have tried to give a song the PRF treatment and for whatever reason, it has just not worked.

Every time, yes. Every album we end up with a handful of tracks that don’t make it to the album, just because they don’t interpret into the genre that we want to, or a couple of us are not feeling it…it happens all the time. There are always songs that are left over that don’t get finished, and with this album, it was the same. With ‘It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through’ we gave ourselves a deadline so there were a couple that we didn’t even attempt because of time restraints, but there were also a couple that we did attempt but kind of gave up on. But there is always the potential for these to be released at a later date.

The flip side of that would be; what ones do you think worked really well on the new album…on a personal note, the version of the Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons classic ‘December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)’ was a highlight because it sparked memories of a song that I grew up with…

Well, ‘Oh, What a Night’, we loved that one. The way that it came about – that was a last-minute addition to the album – was that we had always talked about doing it but had never got around to it. The bounce to it is just fun. It’s such a great song. But for me, one of the biggest turnarounds was ‘Waving Through a Window’ from Dear Evan Hansen. I had never heard of the musical before – I had certainly never heard the song before – and when one of the boys in the band suggested it and I listened to it…I thought…” That is rubbish, I am not into this song”. I didn’t like the musical and I didn’t like the song. But as we built the song and the song progressed…it’s probably one of my favourite songs on the album now!

I’ve got to ask you about your fantastic range of merch; with so many t-shirts, etc, being sausage related, how come you don’t have an Abe Froman Sausage King of Chicago/Ferris Bueller one?

You know, that’s a good shout actually! We are always on the lookout for new, stupid ideas – I quite like that one! [laughs]

The band’s studio is called The Sausage Factory, and as already mentioned a lot of your merch is sausage-related ie: albums called ‘A Whole New Wurst’, and ‘Masters of The Uniwurst’, dare I ask why?

[laughs] It is quite innocent actually! When we first started out and we were just doing the odd YouTube video, we changed some of the words in a Taylor Swift song to being a silly sausage, and it just kind of spiraled from there. We went through a stage of trying to shoehorn the word “sausage” into every song as we thought it was funny, and now it’s just become this thing. Our fans are called The Sausage Army, the studio is The Sausage Factory, and our skull and crossbones t-shirt is actually a skull and two sausages! We tried to get a type of sausage into all our album names, but we’ve tried to rein that in now a little bit, maybe because we have kind of run out of ideas…but it is still there.

Going back to the forthcoming UK tour this October, that is another massive leap up in venue sizes, is it fair to say that you guys are having a blast right now?

It’s amazing. To be honest some of the venues that we played on the tour that just finished we could have sold out twice over. We played The Garage in Glasgow and that was 700, but it sold out months before the show. Same with Manchester, we only played The Academy 3 and that’s just 450 capacity, but it sold out within a few weeks of the tickets going on sale. We’ve massively stepped it up for these shows in October. We’ve just got to go big now.

Punk Rock Factory started off big, the first ever gig was at Bloodstock Festival, and you’ve also since played Download Festival.

Bloodstock was the first time we played live, and we played The Sophie Lancaster Stage in front of something like 8,000 people…for our first-ever show! Which was mindblowing…

No pressure then…

No pressure at all! Then Download was a bit of a weird one because we played the campsite village stage on the Thursday night, and then they asked us to play the Saturday night as well, and we were actually on the same time when Iron Maiden were playing, and beforehand, the place was empty, maybe about 10 people scattered around. About 5 minutes before we went onstage a surge of people filled the entire village and all these people had left Maiden to come and watch us…which was absolutely mental.

When do you start thinking about production size for the October tour?

The production is already in motion. With the bigger venues, we have grander plans. Even when we were playing in smaller venues we always tried to bring a big show. And now that we are looking at 2,000 caps then we want to step it up, so you might be in a 2,000-capacity venue but you are watching an arena show. We have things planned, but it is just working out how to do it all on a budget.

Everything that Punk Rock Factory does is self-financed, yes?

Yes. We are very insular, it’s the four of us in the band, and between the four of us, we write, record, and engineer ourselves. In terms of music, everything is done between us all. Our drummer’s partner is a videographer so she does most of our videos and photos, and a close friend of ours who has been in bands and management roles in the past is now our manager. So it is the six of us, and we are our own label and do it ourselves. It’s only now that things are starting to snowball that it has kind of outgrown us in certain areas, and we are having to bring people in, but strictly speaking, we do it all ourselves.

 

Interview – Dave

‘It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through’ is available here.

Catch Punk Rock Factory on tour this October:

‘It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through’ Tour:

Thu 19th Oct – BRISTOL SWX
Fri 20th Oct – GLASGOW O2 Academy
Sat 21st Oct – NEWCASTLE University
Sun 22nd Oct – SHEFFIELD O2 Academy 2
Tue 24th Oct – NORWICH Epic Studios
Wed 25th Oct – BRIGHTON Concorde 2
Fri 27th Oct – OXFORD O2 Academy
Sat 28th Oct – LEEDS Uni Stylus
Sun 29th Oct – LONDON O2 Academy Islington
Wed 1st Nov – SOUTHAMPTON 1865
Fri 3rd Nov – MANCHESTER O2 Ritz
Sat 4th Nov – BIRMINGHAM O2 Institute

Tickets are available here.

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