Punk Rock Factory may have been seen by some initially as a bit of a novelty act. Truth is, they probably are a novelty act – but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that! Whether you class them as one or not, what they are is incredibly good fun. Their punk rock covers of songs from everything ranging from Disney movies to musical favourites like The Greatest Showman have shown a great range, and have proved a fantastic entry point to a whole new generation of kids and young people touching pop punk and punk rock for the first time.
Rock Sins first properly laid eyes on Punk Rock Factory at the 2022 Download Festival, where they were part of the District X village entertainment on the Thursday of the festival. Fast forward twelve months, after two sold out tours and multiple other appearances, and they’re part of the festival proper, having played on the Avalanche Stage. We caught up with Punk Rock Factory drummer Andrew “Kob” Robinson the day after their much heralded performance to find out how it went down, how things have been for them in a whirlwind last 12 months, and much more….
Rock Sins: So, yesterday, we have to ask, we are here, in the Download Festival press area, you guys, Punk Rock Factory, walk through and there’s a bunch of Power Rangers with you. What is going on?!
Kob: Well we had to step it up didn’t we?! When we got the offer for this we thought we need to do something special. We wanted to make everyone who came away from seeing us think “wow, they really should be on the main stage next year”. So we had to do it, and we really pulled it out of the bag at the last minute. We found PR UK, the best cosplay Power Rangers in the UK. We had a look and it turned out they actually followed us anyway, we dropped them a message and said “we’ve got an idea, do you want to come on stage with us” and they lost the plot. They were so happy. So not only did we all have an amazing day, they were just blown away.
Rock Sins: That’s brilliant.
Kob: So now we need to step it up for next year!
Rock Sins: Things have gone so incredible since this time last year, this time last year you guys were playing the village at Download 2022 before the festival had even officially started! I saw you guys, the sound wasn’t great but there was so many people there it was hard to get close enough to actually hear you, since then it’s just gone mad.
Kob: We can’t believe it. Every time we put something on, we’re a bit tentative about how is this going to go down, everyone just seems to love it. The thing is we are having just as much fun as everybody watching us. Everytime we go up on stage and see all of these people, we just cannot believe it, we’re just so happy.
Rock Sins: Obviously you’ve been doing this for a few years now, do you think it’s just caught the right nerve coming out of the pandemic, people just want to have a good time, no disrespect meant by this at all but what you do is quite easy going and it’s fun.
Kob: We were doing it for about five years before Covid, but it was just a release for us, just a bit of fun. We had other jobs, doing stuff in different bands, but obviously with Covid nobody was able to do anything, especially bands, cos we all know bands are relying on things like studios, filming videos, agents booking shows. With us, we actually have a studio in my back garden, Benji our bassist does all our production, I do all the marketing, so we just kind of continued to exist. With Covid we started having all of these bands, Bowling For Soup, Protest The Hero, Ice Nine Kills, coming to us directly just saying “hey we’re bored at home, do you want to do something?”. We were all just like “are you joking?! Yes please!”. It was all because of TikTok. TikTok just worked perfectly for us. Everyone needed a bit of fun with the pandemic.
Rock Sins: Was there anything specific with Tiktok, or just in general?
Kob: it was all I Just Can’t Wait To Be King. We hadn’t actually done any Disney stuff, we never planned to do it, on our previous album there was just one Disney track, everyone just went crazy and we were like “I think there’s something in this Disney thing”. Everyone loves Disney, and we quickly realised that no-one had ever done a Disney pop goes punk album so we thought yeah let’s give it a go. Even the day before the album came out we were still a little bit “eeehhh”. The day we put the album out, it just went crazy, and it hasn’t stopped since.
Rock Sins: As we haven’t actually discussed it properly yet, you’ve just played Download to an absolutely overflowing Avalanche tent, how was it?
Kob: Unbelievable. The all time test. All of us absolutely buzzing. We got back and watched all the videos last night, we still cannot believe it. We never expected that, especially being added so late, we were clashing with Halestorm as well, and Hundred Reasons too. So to see everyone there and to see people spilling out the tent, all the stories on Instagram, people were so far back, we just cannot believe it. Considering that was the same at Bloodstock as well, it seems that everytime we get put on one of these festivals, people just want to come and see the spectacle.
Rock Sins: That’s interesting because Download is generally quite a broad church musically speaking, Bloodstock is too but in a different way and you’re a lot less of an obvious fit for Bloodstock…
Kob: We were absolutely terrified at Bloodstock because it was our first ever gig! We’d never played live before! We had never even planned to play live. The whole thing with Punk Rock Factory is that it was just going to be a creative outlet for us with videos and having fun and they asked us to play Bloodstock and we were terrified! We were side of stage the whole set before and we were just like “we are going to get bottled”. Something is going to go wrong. We went out and played Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the whole place just erupted. We did about three songs and then we were like, yeah we’re going to be OK. We saw this one old viking guy, with his helmet and this huge beard, screaming like a girl, loving life, it was incredible. We’ve still got the video somewhere, it was just crazy.
Rock Sins: That must be such a good feeling, especially seeing someone like that, the most hardened metal fan, having a great time with you.
Kob: We love that, because we see a really diverse range of people, it’s not just pop punk fans, it’s not just metal fans, not just kids, not just adults, it’s such a wide range of people. One of the things we love to hear is when people come to our shows and tell us “we’ve never even been to a gig before”. You think, and I’m sure you’d be the same, music has always been such a huge part of our lives, so the fact you’ve got people going oh I’m actually into music now because of you guys, that is bonkers. Absolutely bonkers. People who had previously just watched filmed or TV shows, into other things, the fact that we can do that, we love it.
Rock Sins: You guys have Australia coming up in the not too distant future…
Kob: We have! It’s gone down really well! I think the general onsale is only today, it’s not gonna last long at all. We’ve wanted to go to Australia for awhile because our streaming numbers are really good over there, obviously it’s a bit of a logistical challenge, but it’s working really well. We today, we haven’t actually announced this yet because it’s only happened today, we’ve signed with Baybax(?) records in Japan for all of Asia, so we will be going to Japan as well.
Rock Sins: You guys would go down an absolute storm over there, especially with doing the Pokemon theme and some of the other stuff you’ve done.
Kob: Yeah, that’s always been top tier for me, since we started I’ve always thought Japan would really “get us”, doing Pokemon, Power Rangers, we might look at doing a manga / anime kind of thing for over there.
Rock Sins: There’s so many different ways you can take what you’ve been doing, obviously more recently you’ve leaned into the Disney stuff but there’s so many different ways you could take it.
Kob: That’s the beauty of this. So many bands take maybe two years to release an album, whereas we are so knee jerk, we can get an EP out in a month. You know there was some stuff going on with musicals so we did that. We do try to jump on trends as quick as we can because you have to act fast with stuff like this, or there’s no point. We aren’t taking it too seriously.
Rock Sins: Once Australia is done you’ve got your biggest UK tour so far coming up, you’ve got Matt Stocks coming out with you for that.
Kob: Matt Stocks is a legend! We’re going to have a great time.
Rock Sins: And then you have Europe after that!
Kob: Yep, that tour is going to be amazing, it’s our biggest tour to date and I think it’s about 80% sold out as well. We don’t have an agent, it’s all self promoted and self booked, we’re not with any promoters in the UK or Europe, we’ve done it all ourselves.
Rock Sins: So your team is essentially yourselves and Kirsten your PR, is that it?
Kob: Pretty much yeah! So we have Neil who is our manager, who is a good friend of mine who we brought in when things just got too busy, we’ve got Bec who does all our videos and photos, and Kirsten, and that’s it. Neil will go and book the venues, I do the artwork and admats for the tour, we love the way we’ve been able to do it. We are getting to a point where we will start looking outside the circle, we’ve gotten so busy with the management of it all we’d like to get back more to the actual music, and get back to making TikToks and everything. But it’s a very good problem to have.
Rock Sins: With your most recent EP, you had Alissa (White-Gluz, from Arch Enemy) guest on that, you’ve mentioned having Jaret from Bowling For Soup and others on your TikTok collaborations, do you have any more people you’d like to collaborate with in mind? Or is it literally an opportunity presents itself and you’re like “Let’s go”?
Kob: Pretty much yeah! laughs We’ve got some people in mind, the absolute dreams would be people like Billie Joe Armstrong, Dave Grohl, any of Blink, also like Pierre from Simple Plan, we had Jeff the guitarist do a solo for us, and we finally got to meet them in Italy last weekend.
Rock Sins: Was that at Slam Dunk Italy?
Kob: Yes! That was incredible. Did you hear we had a crash after that?
Rock Sins: Heard that it happened but nothing much more, is everyone OK?
Kob: We nearly cancelled Download. We were so close, which would’ve been devastating. Monday, Ben’s gone in for an X-Ray after we got home, and he just sent us the picture, his whole hand is in plaster, I broke my nose, had blood everywhere, cleaning blood off my shoes. We sat together for two days, we considered bringing in a stand in bassist and a few things, but ultimately we went “let’s do it and see what happens”. Fair play to him, Ben has powered through, I didn’t whack myself in the face with a drum stick and it all worked out. It was hairy at the last minute.
Rock Sins: I imagine the adrenaline carried through and pain since?
Kob: 100%. I think he came off stage and went “Oh god”, but he gutted it out.
Rock Sins: Given everything we’ve talked about, I’m guessing things must be starting to be booked up for next year?
Kob: Yep, definitely. There’s a couple of support slots in the pipeline, we’ve never been out with another band, we’ve only ever headlined and festival slots, but we’re now at a point where we are thinking it’d be cool to be able to get on tours with other bands, maybe an arena tour if we’re lucky.
Rock Sins: And based on what you’ve said, hoping for main stage here next year?
Kob: This is why we had to push the boat out this time, you’ve seen what we’ve done this time, put on a bigger stage, we’ll up it another level. We didn’t wanna just play, we like to make people think of the extras, whether its the light show, the backdrop, the Power Rangers, whatever it is. If we got an offer for main stage, we are throwing some crazy ideas around, Neil (our manager) said to us “you’ll never make any money!” and we were like “but it’s so cool!” We’ll have fireworks like Rammstein, a pink, pop punk Rammstein!
Punk Rock Factory have just wrapped up the UK tour mentioned above. They’re going to be on the road in Europe later in the month, and have lots of UK shows already announced for 2024. You can find the full listings on the bands’ website, and can grab tickets for lots of the UK shows at Ticketmaster on this link.