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Suspect Device review Welly's tour diary

"For a fairly small UK band, getting the chance to do an extensive tour of the US and Canada seems like a dream. Welly got this opportunity with Four Letter Word so you can find out if it was the stuff of dreams, or a bit of a nightmare in the second half of this book.

First up Welly got to experience a punk rock tour of the United States with Chaos UK in 1994, doing their merch as they took their punk rock shenanigans across the water. Before the end of the book I was starting to think that this seemed like the more fun tour of the two, as he was there with the band, but not in the band, watching the events unfold, not being at the centre of them.

I like the typeface, included gig flyers and photos taken with e 1990s camera, it gives the book a feel of a much loved fanzine, although at over 300 pages this book is much more comprehensive.

Four years after the Chaos UK tour, and having landed a deal with BYO Records to release their albums, Four Letter Word were on their way to spend the summer touring North America, mostly in the US, but also getting to go to Canada too.

What came across here was that, after the initial excitement of getting such a great opportunity, being on a tour that entails so much travelling and such huge distances is hard. Each day turned into a cycle of Get up, find breakfast, hit the road for miles and miles, hours and hours, try to find the venue, watch good bands, don’t enjoy playing to uninterested audiences, then try to sleep while others drink and party… Repeat this, every day for weeks. Despite the fact that there were obvious high points, like finding cool records in cool record shops, getting to visit places like the site of the Battle Of The Little Bighorn and getting to watch bands like 7 Seconds and Youth Brigade night after night, touring such a big continent is hard work and I’m not sure I’d have survived.

I have been to gigs in the US, both big and small, and the way they do things is different from what we’re used to here, but being there as a member of the crowd is easy, being one of the bands involved and having to do it day after day after day would certainly get me down.

This book is not just a couple of tour diaries, it’s almost like a survival guide, not that I can see any UK bands of a similar size to 4LW getting to do this these days. It was obviously an opportunity of a lifetime, and one that any one of us would have grabbed with both hands, and now Welly, the rest of the band and their driver, Graham, have this story, and these memories of a time that they did something pretty damn cool, and I’m sure that, despite any difficulties along the way, they’re not sorry they did it.

I have to commend Earth Island Books for publishing this and giving Welly, and others like him, the chance to have a book out. I am all for punk rock books being published by people who know their way around the DIY Punk scene".

Earth Island (Tony)

"DIRECTIONS TO THE OUTSKIRTS OF TOWN - Punk Rock Tour Diaries From Nineties North America by Welly Artcore - Earth Island Books.

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