"Giving you the guilty pleasures and making it okay to like them"


By Ellie Odurny

Jul 29, 2022 12:00

As four self-proclaimed idiots, Punk Rock factory rose to fame on social media over the past couple of years with their unique take on popular television themes, Disney classics and other unexpected covers. On a sunny Saturday afternoon at Download Festival, we sat down with guitarist Ryan Steadman and bassist / vocalist Benj Allison from the band to chat about festival fans, going viral and their upcoming US tour.

In typical British fashion, one of the first subjects of conversation is the uncharacteristically good weather that has blessed the grounds of the festival so far. Discussing the difference it makes playing in pleasant weather, they comment on how everyone’s in a good mood when it’s sunny, explaining “we like to bring the party when we play so having the sun on our side helps loads”. Judging by the reaction to their Thursday evening set on the Doghouse stage in the Village, Punk Rock Factory don’t need too much help to win over the crowds. Describing it as “the best show we’ve ever done”, they compliment the upgraded set-up for the Doghouse stage and explain how they’ve ironed out some sound issues they’ve previously experienced at recent festival slots by “learning on the fly”.

This fantastic live reception is not something they’d ever considered a couple of years ago, when their upbeat covers of Disney songs went viral over lockdown, uniting children and parents with a wholesome mix of pop-punk and family screen favourites. Telling us how they “only existed on social media at the start, we were never equipped to be a live band”, Benj describes how they didn’t know how their first live gig would go down at the notoriously heavy Bloodstock Open Air festival last year: “We either expected to be bottled or they’d love it, and they absolutely loved it”.

We asked how the crowds differ at the different festivals they’ve played and apparently metallers come out on top. “It’s more that you’re not expecting it, you’ve got these big Viking looking dudes singing “Let it Go” as loud as they can with their hands in the air screaming. You expect them to rip you apart but they love it. Thousands of bearded Elsas in the crowd.” Commenting on the cross-genre popularity of the band’s tongue-in-cheek brand of fun, they describe the appeal as “giving you the guilty pleasures and making it ok to like them”.

Punk Rock Factory comment on how they “accidentally blew up on TikTok”, telling us “we kind of had the rug pulled out from underneath us…by ourselves”. This unexpected popularity has built a DIY ethic that they say has helped them navigate areas of the music industry that might have been less straightforward if they’d taken a more traditional route with managers and promoters. Talking about starting out with the Disney covers, they mention that they checked the licensing requirements themselves and made sure everything was above board very early on. “Doing things yourself, you have to go places that bands with management or with labels wouldn’t think to go.” They mention that they make sure all the artwork is parody and not direct copies of any originals, suggesting that “from Disney’s point of view, we’re just promoting their brand, they’re not going to have a problem with that”.

With over half of Punk Rock Factory’s fanbase hailing from the US, the discussion moves to the upcoming US tour the band have scheduled for November this year. Both Ryan and Benj are most excited about playing the coastal states of New York and California, saying the fact that they’re actually going across North America on tour is mind-blowing. They mention how they’re planning to stop off at Jeremy Popoff’s house in Tennessee for a barbeque, where maybe they’ll also hang out with Vince Neil who apparently lives down the road, simply declaring “we wanna go party with Lit”.

Punk Rock Factory have talked being a covers band on multiple occasions but we couldn’t help asking again if the band would ever consider writing original material. The answer is a fairly resounding “no”, with Benj saying that for him it muddies the waters. “We’ve got this unique selling point, and if we stray from that I don’t think it really fits.” Ryan adds that they’ve “got every single song that’s ever been written at our disposal, and we’ve got a get-out-of-jail-free card to do whatever we want with it”. They go on to mention “if you drop an original track and it flops, that’s a nail in the coffin”. If they did ever decide to do originals, they describe how they’d probably want to “do an about turn” and release them under a different name.

As we prepare to part ways, they mention that they’re waiting for a second “secret” set to be announced for later that evening, and with characteristic positivity, they say “if it’s a fraction of what Thursday was like it’s going to be amazing, it’s going to be even better”.

‘A Whole New Wurst 2’ is out now, and all tour dates are available on the band’s website here.