Directions to the Outskirts of Town book

Directions to the Outskirts of Town book

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This graet new punk rock tour diary comes with a poster and bookmark. The first printing of the books are shipping out right now.

Directions to the Outskirts of Town: Punk Rock Tour Diaries from Nineties North America by Welly Artcore.

In 1994 punk rock fanzine writer Welly Artcore jumped in the van with legendary British punk band CHAOS U.K. for a two month tour around the U.S. Four years later he did it all again with his own band, FOUR LETTER WORD, this time also travelling across Canada.

From the impossible drives, to scrapes with the authorities, and the bands they shared stages and floors with along the way, often with nothing more than the name of a club on a scrap of paper that turned out to be a disused unit in an industrial estate, they somehow made most of the gigs.

All the while, he did something so many others don’t, he wrote it all down.

'Directions to the outskirts of town' is a candid and humorous account of life on the road packed into a 6” x 9” paperback with over 300 pages, over 250 unpublished colour photos, flyers and illustrations, and a foreword by Kaos of CHAOS U.K.

The book also comes with a poster and a bookmark. Order direct for first edition.

This book can be ordered locally worldwide from books stores such as Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, etc, as well as online from amazon in most countries.

Our take: Welly, the longtime publisher of the UK’s Artcore fanzine, has published his first book, which presents fleshed-out diaries of two tours he went on in North America in the 90s: one tour selling t-shirts for Chaos UK in 1994 and another fronting his own band, Four Letter Word, in 1998. The tours were very different, the Chaos UK tour a drunken, drug-fueled circus, while the Four Letter Word tour felt very familiar to me, basically a low-level DIY band attempting to break into the world of punk touring from the very bottom. Since the tours are so different, the two halves of the book are very different, with the Chaos UK tour highlighting the drunken antics while the Four Letter Word tour sheds more light on the interpersonal relations. As with Get in the Van, Directions to the Outskirts of Town is the opposite of a romanticized view of touring. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but Welly’s writing underscores the monotony of touring with little touches like listing the street address of every single venue and recycling the same jokes again and again (like calling American beer “fizzy brown water”). The Four Letter Word diary was so familiar as to make me feel a twinge of PTSD from past tours I’ve been on. I’m a fan of Four Letter Word, but when they go on this tour, they aren’t a big enough band to draw their own crowd and they’re not really able to win over an unsympathetic crowd, so they are at the mercy of the particular circumstances of any gig. They’re not incompetent, so if the promoter does a good job and there’s a good lineup and an enthusiastic audience they can have a great gig, but more often than not the wind blows from the wrong direction—a bad PA, a mismatched bill, a low turnout—and things go poorly. At that point, the people crammed into the van look at the person next to them and think, “maybe YOU are the problem” and things get tense. Which percolates because on US tours all you do is drive and drive and drive some more, and even though it seems like you do nothing but drive, you’re constantly running late and never able to get your bearings. Like a lot of bands, Four Letter Word doesn’t survive the endeavor; that version of the band dissolves after the last US gig. There is no resolution, no happy ending… in fact, no ending at all really… it just goes and goes and then stops, leaving participants and readers wondering what the fuck just happened. That is both the weakness and the strength of the tour diary as a literary genre; it’s a Kafkaesque maze where every step you take leads nowhere. Not that reading the book is pointless. It’s an accurate and honest depiction of touring the US as a small punk band. That’s interesting enough on its own, but the best parts are Four Letter Word’s interactions with their American label BYO Records and bands like Swingin’ Utters, Youth Brigade, and 7 Seconds that they share stages with. The worms-eye view of that world of mid-level commercial punk is unflattering and thankfully it’s a world I don’t come into contact with often. While the punk conversion narrative and Behind the Music-esque musician / band biography feel like rote forms at this point, Directions from the Outskirts of Town sheds light on aspects of the punk scene that will be new to many and all too familiar for some.