(A PERSONAL NOTE FROM 1120 PRESS PUBLISHER MATT SMITH — In the article below, Buffalo punk musician and business owner Stephen Floyd notes that while his professional obligations have slowed his activity in the DIY community, he remains proud his popular Gutterpop Comics store has served as a resource in bringing together people looking to start bands and embarking on other creative DIY ventures. We at 1120 Press can attest to this personally. Back in the early Spring of 2023, this publication was just an idea — one that I happened to mention to Stephen while inside his shop. Without hesitation, he immediately started to point me in the right direction, providing a wealth of useful material to consider as well as a host of bands and artists with whom I might want to speak. To say that his help that day was invaluable and that his kindness was appreciated would be a gross understatement. The fact is, what Stephen provided turned out to serve as the launching pad that enabled 1120 Press to put out its first-ever issue. From there, the rest is history. We’re thrilled to bring to you this feature on Stephen, written by 1120 Press writer Benjamin Joe.)
Punk bassist and comic-book-store owner Stephen Floyd says he’s trying to strike the perfect balance.
He is also a show booker and comic book publisher, too — just in case you didn’t think he already had enough on his plate.
“I just hope I don’t get to the point where I’m writing lyrics about spreadsheets and things like that. How to export files or something,” Floyd said, laughing.
That doesn’t seem likely.
The amount of material Floyd’s produced over the years, hailing from the hey-day of cheap rent in “shitty punk houses” that made Buffalo famous, shows a determination to make art and creativity a priority.
Floyd — whose been a member of a wide-range of bands including Alpha Hopper, Hot Tip, Mallwalkers, Slim Mutants, and Returners — said right now Personal Style is trying to take it slow “and sit” on some songs that they’ve been getting together.
“I think that there’s a limitation in my musical ability and that really helps,” he explained. “It gives the bands all a certain character even if they were very different in approach.”
Floyd was living in Georgia, where he was residing in “a shitty punk house,” when he booked the band Lemuria and they saw what he was doing and told him the same was waiting in Western New York, but for less than half the price.
So, he moved.
“Opening the store in 2016 has definitely impeded on my ability to be more involved in the DIY (scene)” in Buffalo, he said. “I mean, I’m booking less shows for DIY bands and stuff but I still like to think I’m involved. I’m still helping out where I can.”
According to Floyd, Gutterpop came together slowly and organically. He harkened back to the original location on Elmwood which was very popular.
“People were so receptive and psyched about having a store like that in Buffalo,” he said, “and ever since that, it’s become my focus and job and I’m very grateful.”
There are perks, Floyd said, to being in one location most of your day.
“Socially, it’s awesome, and I’ve always been a person who organized his life around going to shows or being involved in different (stuff),” he said. “You know I had the publishing company, One Percent Press, so I would go to conventions and talk to people.
“Now people come to me and I get to chat that way. I’m very fortunate in that way… I think I’m more helpful — or what’s been more helpful is I’ve been able to connect more people, because I’m meeting so many people who say, ‘I’d really like to start a band, but I can’t find a drummer!’ and then I’m like, ‘Oh, I know a drummer who can’t find (a band),’ or whatever. And they’ve never met and the only reason they know of each other is because they’re just coming into this comic bookstore — unrelated to music stuff. So that’s really cool.”
Floyd, who is 40, is still making cool bass riffs for the enjoyment of his peers and fans, while aiming to write less songs about the Internet, which was the focus of the Personal Style single “Block the Hate” in which he talked about the “bubble” people get into on social media and the way that gives validity to fake news.
He’s said he’s also trying to remember his own influences more “intently,” so he doesn’t end up plagiarizing other people’s stuff.
“I gotta be careful because I listened to those albums so intently for so long, but then you can go 10 or 20 years and not hear them. Then you’re noodling around on bass and you’re like, ‘Woah, this riff is sick!’ (But) then you’re playing it for people and you (happen to) dust off your Big Boys cassette or whatever and you’re like, ‘Fuck! I like totally stole that riff!’”
In the end, Floyd said, it was the right choice to come to the Rust Belt.
“It’s got everything I want in a city. It’s got a great art scene, a great music scene. It just (has) less actual human beings.”