Punk Rock Factory – ‘It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through’

By Katherine Allvey

There’s always room in the punk scene for a little bit of silliness, be it Me First and The Gimme Gimmes belting out ‘Sweet Caroline’ to, well, anything P Paul Fenech from the Meteors has ever released in his solo career. Punk Rock Factory fits perfectly into this tradition, and if they weren’t so damn talented they’d fall into the category of novelty band. Enlisting the help of Jaret Reddick (Bowling For Soup) and Simple Plan’s Jeff Stinco to fly their take on covers to the next level, the Welsh four-piece have been making post-pandemic waves with their versions of classic themes from stage and screen. ‘It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through’ is the spiritual child of Me First and the Gimmes’ ‘Are A Drag’ album and ‘American Idiot: The Musical’, and tackles the big hits of the world of musical theatre. Punk Rock Factory proclaims, “Our new album is a punk rock homage to stage and screen and in our opinion, our best work to date. We found out before that Disney has a devoted cult following and fans of musicals are no different. We knew we had to push the boat out and step up our game. Because who doesn’t love a musical?” The good news? ‘It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through’ absolutely stands up as a pop-punk album. The bad news?  You will have these songs living rent-free in your brain forever. 

‘Oh What A Night’, the go-to for every staff Christmas party and your auntie’s dancing staple at weddings, is transformed into an upbeat, power-chord laden, nineties-throwback party anthem. It’d fit perfectly onto MTV just after an Alien Ant Farm video. ‘Mamma Mia’ has none of the slight ABBA regret on the vocal and is now a rolling pop-punk ballad. The pauses to highlight their vocal prowess are majestic, as is the full-body guitar shredding. A song which should be heart rending, ‘I Dreamed A Dream’ from ‘Les Miserables’, is now a defiant, churning fist-pumper, and while draining the song of it’s pain is a risky strategy, it makes for an adventurous reimagining. Perhaps the edgiest track is ‘You’ll Be Back’ from ‘Hamilton’: a cute ‘ooh’ underlines spikier lines like ‘I’ll send a fully armed battalion to remind you of my love’, and prompts the question: what would Punk Rock Factory be like if they were performing originals? They certainly have the capacity for NOFX-style punchiness and undoubtedly would be very good if they chose to jump away from the covers game, but they know what’s working for them and they’re sticking to it. A standout track, if you fancy a taster without committing to a whole scoop of album, is ‘Defying Gravity’ from ‘Wicked’. The chunky guitar and sweeping chorus retains all the drama of the original, and with their drummer working overtime, the whole song has an endearing energy which will convert even the biggest cynics. 

Punk Rock Factory is the ultimate punk rock gateway drug. The majority of their shows on their autumn headline tour will be open to ages 8+ with only a few restricted to 14+, and with catchy, peppy musical reinventions the band will likely win even more members to their legions of fans who with time may move on to the harder stuff. For those of use over voting age, this is the perfect album for a party or reminiscing with punk rock veterans. It’s not an album which will set the scene alight, but then again it was never intended to be. ‘It’s Just A Stage We’re Going Through’ was meant to be fun, candy floss nonsense from a set of absolute professionals to get both young and old feet bouncing, and it absolutely achieves that goal. 

KATHERINE ALLVEY

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