Review: Punk Rock Factory – It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through

Have you ever listened to a song and thought to yourself ‘Wow, I wonder what this would sound like in a pop punk style’? Whether you’ve wondered if a Disney song would sound better with double-time drums, or if a TV theme song would sound good with crushing riffs, or even if ‘that one song from Stranger Things’ would sound cool with a more gnarlier voice, then Punk Rock Factory are already two steps ahead of you.

Hailing from South Wales, the fun and boisterous pop-punk quartet flawlessly transform several songs that everyone knows and loves into a more heavier style – a true testament to the ‘Punk Goes Pop’ movement you may have seen on YouTube from years gone by. On their new release ‘It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through’, the lads tackle the wonderful world of musicals – covering tracks from productions such as Les Miserables, Grease, Hamilton, and everything in between!

Right off the bat, after first pressing play on the album’s opener, a cover of Rewrite the Stars from The Greatest Showman, I was incredibly impressed with just how tightly produced this record is – the drums are loud and punchy, and the guitars are clear and crunchy, with every level for every instrument sitting just right. The group rehearse, write and record everything themselves in their own studio named The Sausage Factory (because of course it is), so it’s already blown me away that they have done this all by themselves.

But they’re not entirely alone on this record – when the Dear Evan Hansen classic Waving Through a Window comes on (which, by the way, is one of my personal favourite musical songs), the blistering guitar solo that you hear near the end of the track was done by none other than Jeff Stinco from Simple Plan, a legend in the community. You’ll Be Back (from Hamilton) is another stand-out, as it really livens up the already lively song and makes it more bouncy and eclectic, sounding quite similar to Brain Stew by Green Day. And I can’t write a review on this without acknowledging their insane rendition of Mamma Mia from the musical of the same name – the chorus absolutely slapped, and the heavy outro breakdown was truly uncalled for, but I thank them for it. I have never heard a pop-punk cover of ABBA before, and now I’m left wanting to hear more. Punk Rock Factory, if you’re reading this, make it happen!

A definitive highlight for me is their cover of December 1963 (Oh What a Night), from Jersey Boys. Because holy fucking shit. I genuinely think that if you had never heard Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons’ original version of this song, you’d have thought it was their own song – it’s that good. The way the song flowed throughout was just immaculate, and never once felt cheesy at all, despite it having probably one of the most pop punk-like chorus hooks ever. But what surprised me most of all about the album is how they took arguably the most emotional song of the lot (Shallow, from the most recent A Star Is Born film) and turned it into an infectiously bouncy sing-a-long tune! I was honestly very sceptical about how it would sound upon seeing the tracklist for the very first time, but I’m now not ashamed to say that I stand corrected.

In short, this album somehow makes every single song sound 10x better – every chorus you hear makes you think that they were just born to be a pop-punk song, or maybe, in some parallel universe, bands like blink-182, Yellowcard and/or Bowling for Soup could’ve written them. It’s as fast and heavy as it is bright and melodic – which, in my opinion, helps create the best style of pop-punk music. To say I was pleasantly surprised by It’s Just a Stage… would be a massive understatement.

If Fearless Records were to ultimately scrap their Punk Goes Pop series tomorrow, I doubt there would be much disappointment, seeing as everyone can just turn their attention towards Punk Rock Factory, who now essentially specialise in the art of musical transformation and genre-bending. And having seen them live at Slam Dunk Festival last year, I can confirm that the songs sound even better, punchier, and livelier when they’re played live onstage. Their upcoming October tour is one that SHOULD NOT be missed!

Pick up a copy of It’s Just a Stage We’re Going Through, here

Review – Joe Richardson

Current and forthcoming live dates:

Fri 31st Mar – DUBLIN The Academy Green Room
Sat 1st Apr – BELFAST Limelight 2 (SOLD OUT)

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

NEW SHOWS WITH ADAM & THE METAL HAWKS AND A DJ SET FROM MATT STOCKS:

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

For a full list of all performances, including festivals already confirmed for 2023, or to get tickets/more info, please visit www.punkrockfactory.com.

 

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