self potrait 2011I am Darren Floyd, a writer/painter who lives in Cardiff.

 

I had my first solo London exhibition at the 100 Years Gallery in Hoxton on the 19th of February 2015.

 

The blog is mainly about gigs, music, running and art, which pretty much sums me up.

 

 

 

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Pale Snow

Posted on 6th March, 2018

SNOW!!! cARDIFF 2018!As life goes on I have to be constantly reminded to let go of things.

 

 'The Beast from the East' clipped my wings with it's sudden drop in temperature followed and intense snow fall. In Cardiff the snow began to fall on Thursday morning and pretty much didn't stop until late the next day. It was bloody marvellous! I loved it, everyone was giggly and Cardiff felt a little magical and eerie as people slowly mad their way down the deserted, quiet white roads. I went out for a run on Friday at the height of the snow, just to be a contrarian and also I thought if I got a few miles under my belt that I would have earned sitting in snug while eating a bowl of Heinz Cream of Tomato soup. As it happened I had to cut the run a bit short cause the snow was too deep, but it was great to get out.

 

The flip side of this snow fun was that everything turned to shit. Sian and I were supposed to drive up to London with my gig kemosabe Gareth Evans to go to the CastleMania night. There were around five bands including the incendiary Thee Oh Sees and Flatworms. I was looking forward to it but there was a Red Weather warning (likely life threatening conditions) and as I looked out on Thursday at the sheets of snow howling down I laughed and thought 'This ain't happening.' so reluctantly... 

 

On the Saturday the big thaw had began to set in, so Sian and I decided to go to the free Hey Colossus gig at the Moon. We dragged ourselves out into the slushy, wet Cardiff night but after waiting for ten minutes a bus didn't turn up so we reluctantly went back home. We tried to see a film the next day which inexplicably got cancelled due to the weather.

 

So last night Brett Anderson out of Suede was doing a reading and signing for his new autobiography 'Coal Black Mornings' at Rough Trade in Bristol. I'm a big Suede fan, and the book had a great review in Mojo and I hadn't seen the new store so decided to go along. One thing the weather has shown me is that don't own any waterproof footwear. It rained just long enough on the cycle ride down to Cardiff Central to get damp and get my feet wet.

 

Now the plan was get there a bit early, get some food (salute to the Falafel King) find the store, look about then chill. Door were 6:30 so cycled up to Queen Road to where the old Rise store had be. It was my understanding that Rough Trade had taken over the premises. I was wrong. So I stood outside the former Rise store - which is now an eatery - in the freezing rain and wondered where the hell the store was. I still had time so I headed off. I had another vague idea where the store was, and I was wrong again. So I cycled around Bristol in the rain for twenty minutes, stopping from time to time to ask increasingly clueless people if they knew where the store was. At one point I was outside a pub getting increasingly soaked, getting angry and thinking 'OH FOR FUCK'S SAKE!' of course it's my own fault, I never check. I calmed down and pressed on. Eventually Google Maps got me to the store. Fuck, was I relieved to find it. I chained my bike up right on 6:30. I was horribly wet but I didn't mind so much. Picked up my copy of the book and wrist band.

 

Btett Anderson 5 March BristolCause I got there at 6:30 I thought Brett might just be taking the stage and I'd have to shuffle in at the back. However doors were 6:30 and the interview was due to start at 7:30, larvely! So I had time to get a seat four from the front, look around the store and get a cup of Earl Grey. Brett was engaging, funny and ever so slightly louche. He talked about his Dad and his Council Estate up bringing and the early days of Suede. He then took some questions from the audience, which as ever were a mixed bag. I was thinking of asking a question but I always stumble across my words in situations like this, so decided to keep quiet. Also on a more prosaic level I wanted to get the signing sorted as soon as so I could get the earliest train home. I'd double bagged three Suede 12 inch sleeves to get signed and as soon as the interview was over got into line as soon as possible.

 

Brett seemed happy to sign, have his photo taken with people and chat. I asked him what new music he'd been listening to, he said not much, I said there was a lot of good stuff around and recommended The Orielles. He said he'd heard Cabbage and White Horses who he'd liked. With the book (and a very handsome volume it is too) and sleeves signed I got my shit together and cycled off quickly. It must have been about 8:35, and with a truly heroic effort I managed to get back to Temple Meads and on the 8.54 back to Cardiff, happy with my fan boy swag.

 

What a beautiful day

Posted on 19th February, 2018

10th anniversary Cardiff ParkrunSaturday saw the 10th anniversary of the Cardiff Parkrun. The event is an absolute credit to the organisers and to Cardiff. I turned up with a thousand others to run and celebrate. I first ran it at the end of 2011 and I've seen it grow and grow. The beautiful thing about the Parkrun is how inclusive it is. You get variety of ages and abilities out on a Saturday morning from the serious runners without an inch of fat to people running with their dogs and push chairs. It's so friendly and has enough of a bite to it that when you cross the finish line you feel like you've achieved something and earned the rest of your Saturday. On this particularly special run, the Phil Cook the run organiser gave a list of thank yous and looked back at the history briefly before the run began, while the recently beefed up PA played 'What a beautiful day' by the Levellers as it began to rain. 

 

I sorta knew I wasn't going to get good time on Saturday, but that wasn't really the point. I'd also been feeling a bit of an ache in my left hamstring again, so I was punting in the excuses early. I did think 'Maybe I should have volunteered to Marshall the run instead.' but there were a ton of marshals on the route.  It was just impossible for me to get a clear space at the start just because of the sheer number of people, but it did open up pretty quickly and I did get a fair puff of steam up. In the end it wasn't my best time but it wasn't my worse, I suppose it gives me a marker average pace time, I want to beat my PB this year and get under 19 minutes.

 

There was such warmth and - quite rightly - feeling of celebration on Saturday morning. It feels that everyone concerned knows how special the Cardiff Parkrun is. 

Hey heart breaker!

Posted on 14th February, 2018

dreamwife - oil on paper - 2017So the first significant date in my calender has swung around. Yes! It's time for my annual rejection from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition! So why after six years of rejections (I think) do I still keep applying. Well much like the sweaty palmed gambler at the roulette table or the skint punter buying a lottery ticket I still think I've got a chance. To be fair it has kicked me up the ass a bit and I found the discipline of working to a particular size galvanising.

 

The first painting I've submitted 'dreamwife' (left) was finished late last year. It's the latest version of a painting I've been working on for a few months. I think it's about the third version. Although I enter the Summer Exhibition every year I seem to be weirdly unprepared for it. Around August last year I began working on this and the other painting. This meant I could take my time on it. There were a two or three other paintings I thought I might submit but this one, I think I submitted a version of this last year, but I've refined it this time round. I haven't made a huge concession to the RA on this one, it's a bit larger than A3, so it is a bit of a punt. 

 

I'll take a shot at whatever you've got - oil on paper - 2018However the second painting 'I'll take a shot at whatever you've got'  (right) I've completed aimed at the RA. The image itself is quite an old one for me, from a Jim Jones Revue gig. I've painted it a number of times and don't think I've ever really nailed it.

 

Having been to the Summer Exhibition a few times I don't second guess what they're looking for, but the one consideration is size. Space is at a premium, especially if Grayson Perry needs a room from his tapestries. So I decided I'd work small (just bigger than A4), intense, and after awhile I decided just to concentrate on the one painting. This is unusual for me cause I like to have a few things on the go at one time, and I don't like to over work a painting. After a few weeks of dashing into my studio, working on it the painting began to emerge. There were a few parts I had to paint over and rework, the head to the right formed first then the red hand at the top left which needed working and reworking, and I had to paint over the fist at the bottom left. I finished it two days ago. That was the good thing, I allowed myself the luxury of time and set the discipline of getting it right. I'd take a step back from the painting and think 'Is that right? Can I do better?' most of the I could do better and would go back to it. With both paintings I got to the best version, and I'm especially happy with 'I'll take a shot...' so they've been submitted and I a wait my rejection with eager anticipation.

Wasted Smile

Posted on 31st January, 2018

My 2018 gig campaign has got off to a  satisfying if stuttering start. 

 

In a bid to banish the January blues 'The Moon - the spiritual sister venue to the lamented Barfly - has a month of free gigs. Amongst these were three I would have cheerfully have paid for, Surfing Magazines, Duds and the ever brilliant Skinny Girl Diet. Great! Added to this my mate had John Mouse and Sweet Baboo playing at his house as a perk of a Crowdfuning campaign he'd contributed towards. Larvely! Giggage a Go Go! 

 

Then unfortunately the Surfing Magazines gig got postopned cause the drummer was ill, you can't be too pissed off that a free gig has been postponed, and as they are three quarters of the Wave Pictures I'm pretty sure they'll be back. Then the John Mouse gig was also postponed cause he was offered a slot on a 6Music show. Fair enough. Dim problemo cause Steve Ford just went ahead and had a party which was great.

 

So the gig year started on the 23rd. Later than I thought it would, which is fine and 2018's first gig was in the venue where 2017's last gig was. It was a good line up. We got in to see very young, very earnest and very in love with Joy Division - Silent Forum, who I liked very much. Next up were Cardiff discordant heros Gindrinker. On the way to The Moon we saw the distressing site of Cardiff's oldest pub - The Rummer Tavern - being ripped apart as part of a refurb. I mention to this as DC Gates 'lead singer' and avant garde trumpeter with Gindrinker has been a long term barman in The Rummer and was quite rightly scathing of the refurb.

 

Around ten-ish on a  school night Duds were up. A Marc Riley band, there were around 8 people packed onto the tiny stage. Following on from Gindrinker, Duds were also wonderfully jarring and they also had hot trumpet action. They reminded me a lot of Devo and Captain Beefheart. Great stuff. As the lead singer left the stage he said: 

"Enjoy the rest of your evening." 'Christ.' I thought 'This is my evening.' I bought a t-shirt and then wished I'd bought the album and Sian and I caught a taxi home.

 

It wasn't so bad that the Skinny Girl Diet gig was a late one on Saturday. We got there 8ish to check out the earlier bands and bumped into a few mates, which is always nice, one of who was in the first band we saw. They were followed by Honey, who were a bit Metal for my tastes, but not bad, and had driven all the way from Cornwall just for the gig! Impressive.

 

Before SGD there was a shouty dread wearing a Backstreet Boys t-shirt and backed by a drum machine. It was all good sweary fun. Midway through the set he was stripped to the waste and shouting "Fuck Theresa May!", it didn't feel like a Cardiff gig.

 

Finally Skinny Girl Diet took the stage, and superb they were too. A very tight set, with a few new songs snuck in. I love the communication between the Holiday sisters. Just a look between them speeds up the tempo or goes sends the song off into a jam. As it was a Saturday night and it was a free gig there were some twenty somethings off their boxes down the front. Now sometimes this kind of foolishness annoys me, and I find that when I'm on the wagon that I have far less tolerance of drunk/pharmaceutically refreshed people. That night it just felt like people out having a fun in a place they feel comfortable, so what the hell.

 

Great set, and looking forward to seeing them again in six months, probably. No new merch, never mind.

 

The refurb on Teh Rummer had been completed when we walked past. It was stacked with TVs spilling out Sky Sports. It looked ghastly. 

 

Wolf Pack

Posted on 29th January, 2018

Darren Floyd Parkrun Saturday 27th Jan 2018 Regardless of how many races I run there's always lessons to be learned. My latest lesson is don't be greedy. 

 

My pace had been speeding up and I was feeling good and last week I forgot to have a rest day between runs. Well to be right I just tried to pack too much into too few days, so ended up doing 9 and half miles on the Friday, a Parkrun on the Saturday and then two runs on the Sunday. The run on Friday was pretty pacey, but - oh my days - my time in the Parkrun was disgraceful! I couldn't find a space to really get going at the start of the 5k, I got stuck behind a few people and then when the route did open up I just couldn't get my pace. I pushed and pushed but it just wasn't happening, I just hadn't put on my running feet. The truth is that despite feeling pretty good Saturday morning I didn't have the energy after the run the day before. 

 

This still didn't stop me going for two runs the next day. The two runs in one day is on my Asics plan and is a bit of a killer. The first one is a speedy 5.5 miles, and the second is a slower 8.5 miles. I was struggling with the pace on the 5.5 miler and after packing my legs and a cup of tea I dragged myself out for the 8.5 miles run. Jesus, that was such a grind. I'd forgotten to charge up my Garmin watch and when it ran out of juice after 3 miles I settled into steady clomp. All in all in was a scrappy run, but the miles were chewed up and I'm going to space the runs out a bit this week, with three months until the Newport marathon I've still got time to get my pace back. 

Look at Your Hands

Posted on 17th January, 2018

Darren Floyd Parkrun 2018This year has taken me a bit of getting used to.

 

Initially I had a gentle introduction to 2018 as I reluctantly shrugged off my Christmas duvet. I'm gradually getting back into the swing of things. This includes getting back into my running regime. The goal for this year is to try and run a marathon in under three hours.

 

I'm tentatively off to a good start. Unlike last year I start without any injuries and kicking the booze (blimey December was a really boozy month for me) has seen my pace gradually begin to return. Part of the campaign saw me do my first official Parkrun for a year on Saturday morning. I'd one one or two last year but hadn't handed my barcode in to get the runs recorded.

 

The plan for the Parkrun is to beat my PB over the next two months and run it in under 19 minutes. So there was nothing resting on Saturday, it was just a base level run to get back into. I was still a tad nervous, and my left hamstring had been aching a bit, and I'd forgotten to put on my compression sock. I had at the back of my mind that I could stop if it wasn't going well.

 

The Parkrun have finally got a decent PA system, so everyone could finally hear the announcements and indeed enjoy a selection of Queen's greatest hits before the run. I located myself in the time coral I thought was realistic and set off. After the initial crush and I found some space and pushed myself at a decent pace. I'll not pretend it was comfortable and wobbled at my usual spot by the Welsh College of Music and Drama. In the last half I focussed on beating a runner with a manbum and then felt sick in the last 1000 yards (I don't think the two events are connected). When I crossed the finish line my eyes began to water and I did think for a moment that I was going to be sick (as the picture above illustrates), but I was fine as I stumbled towards a steward to show my barcode. I got a decent time of 20:35 which is okay for the time of the year.

 

I'm heading down to the Parkrun again this Saturday morning with ambition to shave a substancial amount of time of 20:35.

 

Debbie loves Joey

Posted on 11th December, 2017

Darren Floyd and some paintings 2017The dying embers of 2017 have sparked a few opportunities for me. Principally being able to exhibit in a gallery in Pall Mall. I don't feel that I've had a particularly productive year art wise, I don't think any of the work has really landed. Having said that this will be the third time that I've exhibited in London this year which isn't bad.

 

Sunday also coincided with the Odd Box fund-raising all-dayer. Odd Box are a fantastic Cardiff based record label who ran into some financial difficulty earlier on this year. They managed to get out of it via a crowd funding campaign, and the all day gig was put on to provide some additional help. So I had to be back in Cardiff for 2pm. I booked the Mega Bus up (glam, glam, glam, Lucian Freud would take the Mega Bus all the time etc etc) and the train back and worked out that it would be a tight turn around to get across town to drop the paintings off but that I had some wiggle room and that it was doable.

 

The weather yesterday was appalling, not even my cat wanted to go out, but with a heavy heart I strapped the smaller painting into my back pack, picked up the larger one and trudged through the rain to the bus stop. The Mega Bus was half an hour late and then crawled out of Cardiff. I could feel myself getting angry, it felt that cosmically that the universe was conspiring to fuck my day up, which is of course bollocks. I was able to let go of the anger and rationalise it to myself. As we started and stopped up a snow clad M4 I knew that there was nothing I could do and I'd just have to deal with the situation which was probably going to mean buying a new ticket back to Cardiff.

 

I was on the tube when I should have been on the train back to Cardiff. Negotiating the tube this close to Christmas was a gigantic pain in the ass, and it was pretty wet and miserable. However getting to Picadilly Circus as it started to snow was magical an I took a moment just to take it in. Finding the gallery was the easiest part of my day (despite walking in the wrong direction initially). I met Lelia, the exhibition organiser, shook her hand, then unwrapped my paintings. At one point I was wrapping the bubble wrap around my arm like a Doctor Who monster (Noah the Wirrin from 'The Ark in Space', 1975).

 

I looked around at the other work, which I was impressed by, then scarped back across London, which was considerably easier without two paintings. . The advance train ticket I had was valid for the booked train, so I thought I'd get a Burrito and buy a new ticket. However when I got to Paddington there was a train to Cardiff just about to leave so I thought I'd risk it. I say the train was about to leave, it would be another half an hour before it left Paddington, due to some tedious signalling and/or weather related problems. When the ticket inspector did come around I could feel myself beginning to blush as I handed the ticket over, fully expecting to have to buy a new ticket, but he didn't seem to give a shit. I think he had bigger fish to fry that day.

 

The train crawled to Cardiff, got so packed at Reading that people were standing all along the corridors and we finally got into Cardiff over an hour late. Cardiff Central looked like a refugee camp. I was okay(sih) about getting in so late as the line up for the Odd Box had been moved around as there'd been a few cancellations due to the weather which meant that it was more of an 'afternoon' than an 'all dayer', still a very strong line up though.

 

I met up with Sian and we went for a drink and intended to have some food, however when I went to order food they said that they stopped serving food at 4, I wanted to throw a table over but I calmed down and we went somewhere else. Cardiff was eerily quiet, I guess the weather putting people off coming in. We went across to The Moon for the gig and bumped into a load of friends and the first band we saw were The Loves, the vintage Cardiff indie heros, and very poppy and sweary they were too, great fun. Next up were a stripped down acoustic version of The Darling Buds, which again was great sparkly indie pop. I don't know there stuff very well, but there were some obvious devotees of the band there. They are signed to Odd Box so I'll have to check them out.

 

Helen Love - Oddbox Al Dayer December 2017

 

Other than supporting Trev and Oddbox the other reason I went to the all-dayer was because Helen Love was playing. I've been a fan of her techno indie pop for awhile, as especially her song 'Debbie loves Joey'. I love the song because it's got such a grimy romantic vision of New York. Boy Helen Love is a big Ramones fan, even down to the way she grabs the mike stand. Helen was brilliant, she had a Wembley Stadium ambition realised on a Liddl budget. The banging, zingy bubblegum pop  was back with some gonzo back projection. Later in the set they set off a snow machine which covered the people at the front, so I'm glad I was at the back. Love, love, loved 'Debbie loves Joey' it just made the stress of the day melt away.

 

The Odd Box all-dayer is probably my last gig of the year, and it rounds off a great year.

Why Choose

Posted on 10th November, 2017

Running times for Gwdihw gig 9th of Nov 2017Thursday night and the third gig of the week. It was Shopping at the Gwdihw.

 

I'd been to see Sacred Paws earlier in the year, and Shopping are Rachel Aggs other band, which does seem to be damming with faint praise I know.

 

I cycled up to the Gwidi Hw to see the lovely Julia Short and her boyfriend entering the venue. They were nice enough to buy me a drink and we yapped about gigs and Swn. It was pretty packed and good see a lot of friends including Trev Oddbox, Keef and Anna. The first band on were a joyfully shambolic Cardiff band, when often the drummer seemed to be playing a different song from the rest of the band.

 

The next band on were Gauche from Washington DC, never heard of them before and thought they were great. I'm a sucker for a singing drummer and a band swapping their instruments. I also love it when a band looks like an odd mix together which is what Gauche were, I could sorta hear some of the influences but they'd been thrown up in the air and had landed in a great pop indie mix.

 

I was in the mood for merch! So between the bands I went to the back of the Gwdihw when they'd discoved how much the t-shirts were. i gambled on a medium fit (I think it's paid off) and was convinced by Shopping's drummer to buy an album, then after finding a fiver I didn't know I had on the recommedation of Rachel Aggs iI upgraded to the limited edition clear vinyl version, have to say the sleeve is rubbish.

 

Shopping were great, they've got a harder edge to them than Sacred Paws, although the same afro beat influences. I may be wrong but I think they did some Sacred Paws tracks. they had a technical hitch half way through the set and the drummer filled in by telling jokes, e.g "How do ypou make Lady Ga Ga cry? Poke her face." which made me laugh. Shopping were great bouncy, energteic gig fun and Rachel is such a great front person which ever band she's in. The band were having a good time which always helps.

 

I may have actually witnessed one of the first true encores of my gig going career (although Skinny Girl Diet were unprepared for an encore when I saw them earlier this year in Bristol). The PA music came on and the band walked off stage, not that they could get far. People were calling for more, the band looked at each other, shrugged and got back on and did another song.

 

Great night, brilliant bands and unexepected yapping with good friends. So three very different gigs all at different venues in Cardiff, it's what life's all about, well for me at least. 

Short Elevated Period

Posted on 8th November, 2017

Wire aren't the most chatty of bands.

 

I've seen them around a dozen times and in varying degrees of grumpy. Fuck it, they're allowed to be, it sorta chimes in with their awkward, angular music, but blimey they were monosyllabic even by their standards. 

Wire, Cardiff Globe 8th Nov 2017

 

Wire were playing The Globe in Cardiff, which seems to have become my de-facto venue of 2017. It was pretty busy, which was good to see on a cold Wednesday night. My gig companion Jason Maybury had to cancel due to consumption so I asked if my neighbour Steve wanted to go which he did, cool beans. We stopped by The Globe to check stage times. The woman said that support were from a Cardiff band which Steve and I didn't know, so we popped next door to The Pear Tree for a pint.

 

It's a mark of a band's status and longevity where the new boy has been in the band for seven years, and now guitarist Matthew Simms seems to have all the hair for the rest of the band. Indeed Simms seemed to be the happiest member of the band, smiling out at the crowd and generally wigging out. 

 

The upside of a lack of stage banter is that the band can really bang through the back catalogue (see also my beloved Pixies). The set consisted mostly of their last four albums, with 'Three Girl Rhuma' making a welcome mid-set appearance. My entry point for Wire was their 2010 'comeback' album 'Red Barked Tree' and so I'm happy with whatever they play and I really enjoyed 'Short Elevated Period' from new album 'Silver/Lead'.

 

I was sorely tempted by the well stocked merch table but kept my powder dry for tomorrow's Shopping gig. Wire were great, and The Globe got the sound right for once, even if it didn't involve the sound woman pushing through the crowd to stand infront of stage with her hand clamped over her mouth.

 

So now I've got the Shopping gig which will be 3 out of 3, I'm feeling tired but I know I can do it coach...

Nothing and Everything

Posted on 7th November, 2017

Mark Eitzel - Clwb Iffor Bach Cardiff 6th OctI'm having a moderately ambitious week. In the dying ambers of 2017 this week I'm seeing three gigs! 

 

First up last night was Mull Historical Society and Mark Eitzel at Clwb Ifor. I'm pretty sure I've seen aka Colin Macayntre before, can't remember where, but he was performing solo style with just a guitar and his daughters Tablet. He was fun and engaing. 

 

I'll make every effort to see Mark Eitzel when he's in town. He manages to be slightly chippy and shy at the same time, and has an incredible soaring voice. I leaned across to Sian at one point and whispered: "Shouldn't we be in a smokey New York bar?" as that's the atmosphere he generates. He reminds me of John Grant and Rufus Wainwright as all three have a Torch song quality to their music. Eitzel sang four songs before he spoke to the crowd. He was pretty acerbic on topics from the current political situation in the States to Cardiff's homeless problem, which is getting very bad. He does it in such a charming way it's hard not to be, well, charmed. 

 

The lion's share of his set came from his excellent current album 'Hey, Mr Ferrymen', I don't think there were any 'American Music Club' (his former band) songs, but I don't know them that well. As per usual midway through the set I needed to visit the bathroom. Sian told me after that when I went in the door slammed behind me and Mark Eitzel.

 

"Boy that guy really needs to piss...in my mouth!" Upon reflection...

 

It was a short set at an hour, (which on a school night is no bad thing) with two songs as an encore after a bit of back and fore with the band. Great gig, next one up are post punk legends Wire on Wednesday night...