On the road with Gigsy and Senseless Things

Now it’s probably fair to say that you can’t write a book about music without featuring a live gig. And it just so happens that the gig Emma and Dave go to in my upcoming book, The 27 Club, is one that I was actually at in the early 90s – Senseless Things at Hull Uni Students’ Union. The actual date? Who knows, the internet wasn’t invented then and can anyone really remember such details from so long ago…

Sadly, the one and only time I got to see Senseless Things live was when I was a painfully shy and anxious young teen who really didn’t make the most of it. But Emma and Dave’s fictional journey to the Hull Uni gig is far more fun and adventurous...(that’s the great thing about writing fiction - you can literally make anything happen).

While the gig was real, the events in my book are obviously fictitious, but I was still keen to make sure it was authentic. That’s where Paul ‘Gigsy’ McGivern comes in.

I knew of Paul – ‘Gigsy’ – back in the early 90s. Because when my mum was on one of her loooooong phone calls in the hallway to her best friend, Anne, she happened to mention that Lucy’s got this new boyfriend and he and his friends are all into this band – they call them Senseless Things. 

Well wouldn’t you believe my luck. It just so happened that Anne’s brother was a roadie for my new favourite band! Result! 

So very soon I stopped cursing my mum for spending hours chatting loudly on the phone to Anne while I was trying to watch Home and Away in the next room because, as I was about to discover, these phone calls could prove quite fruitful...

One particular conversation heralded some big news - news that was about to make a shy, dorky teenager with crooked teeth and spots at least a little bit popular. I was to get six guest list places for the Senseless Things’ upcoming gig at the uni. 

Oh. My. God.

So, when I decided to write about Emma and Dave’s trip to Hull Uni, I got in touch with Gigsy to grill him on everything that went on while he was on the road with Senseless Things. And now I’m going to share some of it with you (don’t worry – no spoilers!) Of course, my story is entirely fictitious, but there are fictional cameos from real people…namely Gigsy and Senseless Things. So I wanted to make sure that I had the detail correct…

Where did the band sleep, how did they travel, who looked after breakfast, who hung out with them…I’ve saved most of this for the atmosphere of the book, but here’s a little snippet of life on the road as a taster…

How long did you tour with Senseless Things and how did it come about?

Gigsy: I was previously playing with bands and one of them, the Joyce McKinney Experience, played with Senseless Things several times, and also Mark (Keds) used to come stay at mine occasionally. We were all very connected to each other (JME & ST & other bands such as Snuff and Mega City 4) and after, I went touring around Europe with Snuff as a tour manager/roadie and after this, as ST were stepping up to touring on a grander scale in the UK and around the world, I joined them on this from around 1991 until they split in 1995.

So what does being a roadie involve?

Gigsy: Depends on your roadie role…there are many different jobs within that. For ST and me, I was responsible for all of the equipment as well as organising transport and timings and technical and budgets and hotels etc…

And what was it like spending so much time in each other’s pockets?

Gigsy: It can be stressful for sure. We were all quite young though, and everything was an adventure, so the excitement of just being out and about in a big world of touring can be very forgiving, whereas when you are older it can get a bit more irritating if people misbehave!

Back in the early 90s, the band will have been younger than my central characters, Dave and Emma. How did they entertain themselves for weeks on end?

Gigsy: That would be telling…

And the living quarters? Any rules that had to be abided by to keep the peace?

Gigsy: Generally we were either in a tourbus with beds, or a smaller “splitter-van” which would mean hotels…usually we would share rooms, as it was obviously cheaper. There was a lot of boozing going on, so people didn’t hang around in hotel rooms very much anyway….they would just be places to sleep. Rules?...would be generally ignored!

My book talks a lot about mental health, drug use and addiction. How do you think touring / working in the music industry affects mental health?

Gigsy: I remember talking to someone in Austin TX in 2015 who said they wanted to be a tour manager and asked how they should start. I told them to gather all their friends and relatives in one place and say goodbye to them, ‘cause that was what would go first, and then to check out local recovery clinics….if it wasn’t for band-members of touring crew, then it would be for you! Short answer, it is probably the worst thing you can do for mental health…

You toured more recently with Senseless Things in 2017. What was it like coming back together as an older (wiser?) band and crew?

Gigsy: Well we were older….dunno about wiser! It was fun, but nothing really had changed.

How has lockdown affected your work? Have there been any tours / work you’ve missed out on that you were really looking forward to?

Gigsy: I work pretty much exclusively in Norway these days. I’ve done six shows there since January 2020, and nothing on the horizon, even though they are doing shows there (up to 200 people). So, yes…everyone who does touring either as a musician or crew has not been able to work since March. I was supposed to do some dates with Circle 60 (Cass & Morgan were playing in this band) but they were obviously cancelled… 

Finally – as we’re talking about the Senseless Things, tell me which song of theirs holds the strongest memories for you and why? 

Gigsy: There are a few….Too Much Kissing as that meant end of the set and time for the chaos to ramp up….Hold it Down and Easy to Smile as they were the bigger singles at the time too…

So, you’ve got a teeny snippet to be going on with, but you’ll have to read the book if you want to attend an imaginary Senseless Things gig…or you could just listen and pretend you’re there…

Listen to Senseless Things on Spotify