Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Welly of Artcore Fanzine


Over the past 3 years of doing DCXX, I've gotten a solid handful of people contacting me and asking if they could send me a copy of their printed fanzine, which in turn I could do some sort of review for. I've gotten a few good ones and it's nice to know that the printed fanzine is not a dead format, but I gotta say, Artcore ranks up there as one of the best.

Artcore's long-running editor, Welly, has been at it for 25 years and the guy has simply covered a lot of ground and continues to do so. Many of the issues are jam packed with interviews and articles on both new and old bands, not unlike what we've been doing here with DCXX. No doubt, Artcore offers something for everyone, so check it out And now for the Artcore history lesson… -Tim DCXX


Who are you, where are you from and how/when did you get into punk/hardcore?

I’m Welly, I’m from Cardiff, the capital city of Wales in the United Kingdom. I got into hardcore kind of late circa 1983, but I didn’t know anyone else into punk. I liked what I heard in the 70’s, like the Clash and Dickies, but it was banned in my house, so when I got into music, I got into the burgeoning 2-Tone scene in 1979, and even this was a fight in my house. After the 2-Tone bands went pop or split up, my rude boy friends started listening to Oi! and I realized where that was heading and got out of it immediately. The kids who were into punk listened to The Exploited, and I thought that punk was all heading in that direction and didn't bother with that UK '82 stuff.

After this, I got into The Jam for a while, then they split, and I knew there was something I was looking for that I hadn't found yet. So, I asked an older school friend if he could ask his even older brother if he knew any music that was ‘more powerful, more political,' and he came back with two LP’s for me to borrow; ‘Inflammable Material’ by Stiff Little Fingers, and ‘Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables’ by Dead Kennedys.

I thought the SLF record was great, but the DK album literally changed everything. From that point on, I sought out all their stuff, collected all their records and picked up this little book called ‘Dead Kennedys: Unauthorized Biography’ which had a discography in the back with all the compilations. It felt like years at the time, but after a few months, I found some compilations, the big one being ‘Let Them Eat Jellybeans.'

I couldn’t believe that there were all these bands I’d never heard of, and I went about trying to find stuff by Black Flag, Circle Jerks, Flipper, Bad Brains and the like. I was walking through town one day with my school pal Jon and I was going on and on about not being able to find Black Flag records. He was telling me to ask in the record shop, and I was like 'there’s no way they’re going to have any.' So he asked, and they dusted off this box under the counter and pulled out the Nervous Breakdown 7”. I couldn’t believe it. The same day we asked in another place and they dug out Six Pack.

I started collecting Alternative Tentacles and picked up ‘Flex Your Head.' This sent me reeling into Dischord territory, and I still remember vividly finding the Minor Threat 12” and Government Issue’s ‘Boycott Stabb.' The whole thing just became an obsession. My friends in school had no idea what this music was I was listening to. I hadn’t and never have since, heard music that has the same effect on me.


How and when did Artcore start and what was the basic premise behind it?

Fast forward a couple of years, and I started work on the first issue between Xmas and New Year's in 1985, and put it out in January 1986. I was inspired by reading Maximum Rock’n’Roll. I’d never taken much notice of it, as I thought it was some kind of political paper, as it was behind the counter of my local record store (Spillers Records, the oldest in the world), but one day I asked to look at a copy, and realized that it was a hardcore zine. Which I’d never seen before. I took it home and read it from cover to cover. That was the first time I ordered DIY style too.

I spent all my Xmas money changing it into money to send to the U.S. I got back the first Rest In Pieces 7”, Psycho 7” and tape and the Lookouts and Against The Grain demo. When I read the ‘Between The Lions’ zine reviews at the back, I figured out that anyone could do it, and set about making a zine. I had no idea what I was doing. The premise was that I was into hardcore and art, and wanted to give it an art/design edge. I was big into art in school and all my work was basically hardcore stuff pretending to be projects.

The first couple of issues were a real mess. I was finding my feet big-time. I borrowed my mother’s typewriter and undertook a steep learning curve at the local copy/xerox shop. Back then, I had no idea about design and print, and even photocopying was like some kind of alchemy. The buzz I got out of it made me realize that it was this is what I wanted to do. The school careers guy asked me what I wanted to do, when I said ‘something to do with art,' he said ‘don’t bother.' In retrospect, as a career choice, he was right, ha ha. But I ended up doing four years of graphic design at art college, and I still make the zine and do graphic design all the time all these years later.

As soon as I sent the zine off to MRR and got it listed, I started hearing from people all over the U.S., Canada, Europe and U.K. and traded zines, letters, tapes and records. I’d wait each day for the mail to arrive and there was nothing like the thrill of getting a letter from a far-off like-minded person, and gaze in amazement at the flyer the letter was written on the back of. If I had a no mail day, it was ruined. Hardcore was my education about the world. It blew a hole wide open in reality for me. I didn’t learn as much from school and TV.

Hardcore was my geography, history, social and political lesson all rolled into one. I was 17 when I started the zine, and about 14-15 when I discovered it, and everything was different after that.


Give us some highlights from past issues, some of your favorite interviews, articles, etc.

Well some of the best stuff is from the issues that have come with music, like the new issue. The last issue, which came with the House Of Commons CD, the one before that with the Beef People 7”, and the 20 year anniversary, which was the America’s Unknown compilation tape from the 80’s put onto LP. Interview wise, in the early days I interviewed Rites Of Spring, Maggot Sandwich, Instigators, Rest In Pieces, Freeze, Psycho, Adrenalin OD, Corrosion Of Conformity, Urgent Fury, Cowboy Killers, Spermbirds, th’Inbred, HDQ, which were great bands to have looking back.

There were a few years in the 90’s where I was broke and had some long breaks between issues, but circa 1998 I hit upon the idea of writing about old bands, as nobody else was doing it at that time. I called it Vaultage and have since had indepth biographies or articles on bands like Code Of Honor, Kraut, CH3, Dangerhouse, Upright Citizens, Reagan Youth, Really Red, Accused, MIA, Toxic Reasons, Effigies, Big Boys, Adolescents, Rattus, Avengers, Subhumans (Canada), Offenders, FU’s, Dr. Know, JFA, Battalion of Saints, Moving Targets, Gang Green, Social Unrest, Negazione, Bad Posture, State, Jerry’s Kids, Meatmen, TSOL, Nuns, Ripcord, Angry Samoans, Cramps, N.O.T.A., Die Kreuzen, Poison Idea, Dickies, Saints.

We’ve had previously unpublished interviews with Black Flag and Corey Rusk of Touch and Go and the Necros. Articles on X-Claim!, Posh Boy, Bemisbrain, Mystic, Smoke 7 and SST Records. And of course the art of Vince Ransid, Mad Marc Rude, Shawn Kerri, Brian Walsby, Jeff Nelson and John Yates. The list goes on. It’s a pleasure to have all of that stuff.

And from that I’ve luckily gone onto have some of it used as liner notes for re-issues and even done some of the design work too (see th’Inbred reissues on Alternative Tentacles). What an honor!


What issue are you up to now? Give us some details on your most current issue and where we can order it.

The new issue is out now and is the 25 year anniversary issue. It’s an LP – the lost Wardance Records compilation ‘Fuck Rock’ from 1991 with Citizens Arrest, Born Against, Rorschach, Go!, Animal Crackers, Warning, Inflatable Children, Antiem and Huasipungo. The zine comes inside with a large insert, and it’s on green vinyl. The zine has interviews and articles on D.O.A., Knuste Ruter, Southport, 40 Hells, Class War Kids and This System Kills, as well as the Vaultage section, which has a huge interview with Doug Moody of Mystic Records, as well as Die Kreuzen, Poison Idea, The Saints and The Dickies.

There’s also the art of Squeal (most known for Icons Of Filth art) and a pile of other stuff. It’s only been out two months, and is already almost sold out, so get your skates on if you’re interested, it’ll be gone very soon. The easiest place to find it is but if I’m all out, you may find it at as he split financed the project with me and we had half each.



Nick said...

Are those unreleased songs on the comp? Or did the songs come out other places?

Anonymous said...

Anyone know a US distro that has the 25th anniversary issue?

Anonymous said...

Look up Freddy Alva of Wardance on Facebook

FreddyAlva said...

About half the songs on the comp came out after plans for the comp were scrapped in '91.
Previously released: CXA, Go!, Born Against. The Rorschach song is a different version.
Unreleased; Hell No, Animal Crackers, Antiem, Warning. Huasipungo, The Inflatable Children.

Copies are just about gone! Drop me a line if you want one of the last;

Der Leser said...

Artcore really is up there. The Mojo Magazine for Underground Punk.

Tom said...

It's really nice to see this exposure. Welly is one of the most knowledgeable guys in punk rock you'll ever meet/have the pleasure of coming into contact with. Along with that, he and his family are gracious and good human beings.

He might have some copies of previous issues of "Artcore" laying around. Trust me when I say that they are absolutely worth every penny. Contact him about them at:

Adamski said...

I love reading stories of how folk got into hardcore, especially the rather more mature people! Me & Welly are roughly the same age, though he got into it a couple of years before me. But I can also say it changed my life, too.
I've not seen too many issues of Artcore, I'm ashamed to say.

mel said...

Artcore has been a firm fave of mine since the 80's. Welly is the same age as I am.

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