To quote an April Wine song from 1978:
Once upon a time being a “roadie" or crew member on a tour it was simply a guy tuning a guitar, or drum set, and then trying to keep back the groupies from jumping on the stage. Today, on a major tour, the world of the roadie, or crew member, is very different.
Enter Brandon born and raised Barrie Roney.
“Willis or Willy or The Tub” kind of stumbled into the role of a roadie about 15 years ago. Prior to that he had spent time working as a bartender for The Unwinder, doing cable television installations for Westman Communications Group, and selling hockey cards in the Mall back in the day when it was more fashionable.
BDNMB: Now Willy, for people that don’t know you, lets rattle off a list of acts you have worked with over the years?
Nine Inch Nails
Huge outdoor country and rock festivals.
BDNMB: And, your last gig was with the Bryan Adams tour of Western Canada, North Dakota and Minnesota. Now lets talk about that tour, it was 5 shows in 5 days and included plenty of travel including stops in Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Brandon, Bismarck and Duluth. Doesn’t sound like much fun with zero chance for sleep.
BARRIE – it was a lot of smaller venues…lots of labor with inexperience, so you don't have a chance to sneak away to go for a nap on the bus.
BDNMB: It appeared from feedback on Facebook, and this website, that it seemed like everyone thought Bryan Adams and the show itself was amazing.
BARRIE – Adams has lots of hits, and he puts together a big show for these smaller venues… not many tours carry video and big screens.
BDNMB: Explain, what is your job on the tour?
BARRIE – I work for a video company that provides video gear for bands on tour, and we do some corporate shows as well.
BDNMB: Explain a time-line of a typical day…of course problems will happen.
BARRIE – Every building is different, but normally I start my day between 7 and 8 am and have a few hours off in the afternoon before the show starts. Following the show we have to rip it down and try to get on the road by midnight.
BDNMB: A common thing that I hear when I travel for work is “oh you are so lucky”…and I kind of think to myself, well it isn’t glamorous”. Would you tend to agree with that statement?
BARRIE – To come extent I see lots of things, and now I have been to lots of places, so everything is starting to become the same old, same old.
BDNMB: How did you get your start in this business, didn’t your brother kind of help out?
BARRIE – I had been laid off with the job I was working at the time. I went to to visit my brother, who lived in New York, because I had never been there before. He had worked in this industry since the early 80's and had built up a network within it. So when he met me at the baggage claim in New York his first words were. "We gotta hurry I got us tickets to see Conan O'Brien, tickets for the Rangers game and oh, yeah I got you a new job” Three weeks later I was on Avril Lavigne's first tour.
BDNMB: Best thing and worst thing about this business / job ?
BARRIE – For me I would say the worst part is the travel and the amount of time away from home. The best part in some ways is the perks: free ticket to events, the places I've been, and the people I have met along the way.
BDNMB: Would you recommend this profession to friends or their kids?
BARRIE – This job isn't for everyone. I would recommend it to someone younger with less responsibilities. There are long hours and sometimes you could be away from home for multiple months at a time. You live in close quarters with a group of people with little privacy at times. So if you can handle that then it could be the job for you.
BDNMB: Would you say that Michael Buble would be one of the most down to earth and cool guys to work for?
BARRIE – I've worked with Michael on his tours since 2005. He is an absolute genuine guy. He takes care of his crew like no other. I would say he would be the top of my list for entertainers I have worked with.
BARRIE – One day I will do a tour with Iron Maiden and get to fly on ed force one.
YouTube clip of Backstage Secrets featuring Canada’s Rush