Directions to the Outskirts of Town (Paperback) – Welly Artcore – Earth Island Books

Despite being featured on the Mass Movement Presents podcast, it’s high time that we had a full review as DTTOOT came out in 2021 but c’est la vie. DTTOOT is a North American tour diary split into two periods  – the first detailing Welly’s adventures with Bristolian lunatics Chaos UK in 1994 and then with his own band Four Letter Word in 1998.

If you’ve read Welly’s zine ‘Artcore’ (and if you haven’t – pull your finger out) you’ll know what to expect from his writing. There is no misty-eyed nostalgia or punk rock whitewashing to be found here. It’s honest, brutally frank and captures the reality of a touring punk band – stinky trainers and all. The text is interspaced by a selection of Welly’s doodles and personal photos of Chaos UK, 4LW and their touring partners – an eclectic selection, which includes EyeHateGod, The Pietasters, Swinging Utters, Neurosis, Youth Brigade, Brand New Unit and 7 Seconds; bookended by flyers of the shows and lists of the tour dates (Welly’s meticulous note taking proving very useful in this instance).

Welly’s acerbic sense of humour often goes over some people’s heads, but there are a some great one liners peppering the book – “On first impressions EYEHATEGOD looked like a bunch of drug addled fugitives who had nothing to live for. There’s a lot to be said for first impressions” being a good example. There’s also a few well-placed lyrics hidden in the text – see if you can find them all kidz!

Never one to view the past with rose tinted glasses – Welly articulates not only the camaraderie that can be found in the Punk & Hardcore scene, but the monotonous grind of touring, the bitchy infighting caused by too many hours cooped up in a van with people whose breathing begins to grate on frayed nerves and the disappointment of meeting people you looked up to in your formative years (the story of 4LW having to wheelbarrow 40 tons of concrete into a skip to clear Shawn Stern’s (BYO & Youth Brigade) yard is instructive. Despite these negatives, in conclusion Welly signs off with the optimistic view that, all things considered, he’d do it all again. An honest and entertaining book that any touring musician will empathize with. Ian Pickens

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