The Penske File about their upcoming album 'Half Glow'
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Saturday, June 17, 2023 - 12:28
The Penske File about their upcoming album 'Half Glow'

With the release of new single 'Chorus Girl', The Penske File are back! The single serves as a precursor to the band's new album, 'Half Glow', which is a culmination of over half a lifetime of musical collaboration between James Hall, Travis Miles and Alexander Standen, the childhood friends that make up the band. With robberies, burn outs, pandemics standing in its way, the completion of 'Half Glow' wasn't without its hardships. But The Penske File simply shrugged it off and came out the other end with an album that's packed with the kind of anthemic songs that we've become accustomed to. We caught up with the trio to talk about all things 'Half Glow,' which will be out July 21st on Stomp Records (pre-order) and Gunner Records (pre-order).



PRT: First of all… congrats on the new album!

Travis: Hey, thanks so much, and thanks for chatting with me!


PRT: I read that it wasn’t an easy one to record. You got robbed, there was a fire and of course, there was the pandemic. Was there ever a time when you felt like it just wasn’t in the cards? And if so, how did you get motivated again?

Travis: The recording of the album itself wasn’t really much different than any other recording as far as being difficult or what not. It was more or less the circumstances surrounding the “Half Glow” sessions that brought some adversity to the project. When we were deep in the writing and demoing phase of the record, during our tour cycle for our previous album “Salvation,” our van with all of our gear and personal belongings was stolen in Montreal, in the middle of the day, during Pouzza Fest, while we were bopping around and checking out other bands in advance of our load in time. It was a real blow, losing our surrogate home and a lot of money and objects of sentimental value. In a residual way, the baggage surrounding that event and other hardships experienced on the road were carried into the “Half Glow” recording sessions. We were about 90% finished tracking the record when COVID shut the world down. I remember being in the studio and realizing that this was no joke. Like everyone, we took a forced pause. When the lockdowns in Canada extended intermittently into a couple of years, it felt like the race we had put ourselves in was off. The forced pause turned into a welcome one. When the time came that we all wanted to get back in gear and out on the road we were able to revisit the sessions with fresh eyes and ears and an unanimous excitement for the project that had perhaps been a bit strained leading into the pandemic. I think the record is definitely stronger because of the things that stood in its way. 


PRT: Even more so than on ‘Salvation,’ the new album sees you exploring the dichotomies that we all come across: joy versus sadness, light versus dark,… What is it about those contrasts that makes them so appealing for you to write about?

Travis: In a way, this ties into my last response. I mean, we all write about our lives and the things we encounter. Whether the thematic content of songs take on an abstract or a literal form; speak through composite characters or in the writer’s first person, it always has something to do with personal experience and/or observation which is inevitably full of the spectrum of emotions and forces mentioned in question. These dichotomies are interesting to write about because, ultimately they are what makes life worth living and what makes us human. In a way, “Half Glow” is thematically concerned with growing up and growing older in a world that often feels very dark, sinister, and - at times - even hopeless. It’s also about finding love in that world, and sometimes losing it and finding again. Light and dark, push and pull, joy and sadness, that’s just the way life is, why not write about it?


PRT: With every album you release, it becomes a bit harder to label you as a punk rock band. And I mean that in the best possible way. Is that you challenging yourselves as songwriters?

Travis: Perhaps, I appreciate the observation and the question. We are definitely always striving to become better songwriters. Speaking for myself, it is something I’m consistently drawn to. I love writing songs and am constantly striving for improvement. As far as the stylistic trajectory of the band goes, I think it is just a reflection of our evolving musical tastes. We’re just as likely to throw on alt- country or folk or classic rock records on a long drive as we are punk rock records. I think the evolution of our sound is directly related to that: the music we listen to, the music we love. Punk rock will always be ground zero for myself, and for the band, but there is so much out there, sonically, and why not incorporate it? I love the record we made and when I listen it, it sounds like an amalgamation of a lot of the music I hold dear and that is certainly at least part of the goal of creating music: to create something you’re proud of, something you love, and something that feels right.


PRT: The last time I did an interview with you, I asked which things you still wanted to achieve with The Penske File. Your answer then was ‘platinum records, sex tapes, rehab, emotionally turbulent memoirs and glory in death.’ How are you getting on with reaching those goals?

Travis: That is fucking hilarious. I have no memory of that. I responded to a similar question in a different interview recently and my response was nowhere near as badass. Suffice it to say, these goals are still a ways off. The emotionally turbulent memoirs are chugging along though.


PRT: The three of you started The Penske File in around 2010 and you were in a band called The Bad Names before that. That means a lot of tours and shows, especially in your case. What is the best and most annoying thing about touring with the other two guys?

Alex: The best thing about touring with the other guys is our collective ability to laugh it off in moments of near tragedy. Worst thing - When Travis thinks he's left his wallet/phone in every city so we wait around in the van until he finds it. "Did you check your pockets?”

James: Best thing - they are both my brothers/family. I've spent more time with them than anyone else and wouldn't change that. The time spent playing music on stage with them is nothing but pure enjoyment. Worst thing - I know how annoying I am and can be on tour and spending that much time together can get us a little on edge sometimes. I guess their reactions to how annoying I am is the worst thing hahaha.

Travis: Best thing - James said it well. Getting to travel around playing rock ’n’ roll with my best friends is a privilege, I don’t take for granted. Worst thing - Alex is too chill, James is too not chill. Hahah. Gotta love ‘em though.


PRT: I’m guessing that when you first started the band it was out of passion and the band was quite possibly the most important in your life. Has the role that the band plays in your life changed over the years as you are getting older and have things like a day job, a house, maybe a family?

Travis: The band was the most important thing in my life for a long time. I now look at it as a very important thing in my life. It took me a long time to get there and I sometimes still struggle with that. There are a lot of things to live for and the band is one of them. Balance is key. I’m still working on it. Most of us are, I imagine.


PRT: You got the band name from a great Seinfeld episode. Personally, I think I’m more of a George, but which character from the show do you identify most with and why?

Alex: I think I'm more of a Jerry. Only because I see the George, Kramer and Elaine in my a lot of my close friends.

James: I think I'm an eclectic mix of George and Kramer. A little wild and bouncing of the walls, but I also tend to have a lot of different jobs and always think my next idea is pure gold.

Travis: I feel like I would be a George. I can be very neurotic. It’s funny that Alex picked Jerry, because sometimes I watch their exchanges in the diner and think to myself, “that could totally be me and Al.” haha.


PRT: What’s up next for The Penske File once the album is out?

Travis: We have a few tours lined up in Canada that aren’t announced yet. We’ll be coming back to Europe a couple times as well. Probably do some shows in America too. We are all really excited to get back out there with this batch of new songs and rock ’n roll!

Tom Dumarey
Tom Dumarey

Lacking the talent to actually play in a band, Tom decided he would write about bands instead. Turns out his writing skills are mediocre at best as well.