NORWAY — Arthur Roundy’s claim to fame is a “cigar and a foot picture” posted to his Instagram from a different city nearly every day. For years, he worked as a tour bus driver for artists including Justin Bieber, Carly Simon, Motörhead, The Rolling Stones, Miley Cyrus and Tyler the Creator.
Now, he runs a carpentry shop in Norway where he builds custom cabinets, mudrooms, libraries and floating furniture. He also sells produce and canned goods with his wife from their farm in Milton Township.
The farm was his grandparents and Roundy grew up spending his weekends and summers there. Roundy adored going to his grandparents’ house. “I spent my weekends and my summer vacations there. I loved it, it was beautiful,” Roundy said. He grew up in Merrimack, New Hampshire, but had a difficult time at school and his grandparents’ farm was the only place he felt at ease.
His mom was one of 15 children and Roundy recalls sleeping “head to toe” with his aunts and uncles at the farm.
In the 1980s and ’90s, he was the lead singer in a country band called Phoenix. They performed out of Nashville and opened for bands like Alabama and Kenny Chesney.
In 2000, Roundy moved to Nashville and he started a record label called 3D Records, but his business fell through in 2006 when his investor pulled out after a taxing divorce.
So, he pivoted and started doing band management and opened up a small cabinet shop out of his home.
In 2007, Roundy was looking for work and had a friend who was a tour bus driver. “I found out how much they make and I called him one day and asked if he could get me a job,” Roundy said.
Roundy landed a job as an independent contractor for Roberts Brothers Coach and was on the road from 2007 until last June. During that time, Roundy drove between three and 15 tours every year.
The daily schedule of a bus driver is far from usual. Roundy would drive his bus 5 to 6 hours every night to get to the next performance venue, arriving early in the morning.
Once the buses were parked, the drivers would go into the venue where breakfast was served. Then, they’d return to their buses to clean up and have a smoke. Later they might go into the city in search of some lunch.
“Our big thing was finding the stuff that only the locals know about,” Roundy said. Over the course of his 15 years as a bus driver, Roundy said he visited or drove through every city in the United States and every province in Canada.
After lunch, Roundy and the other drivers would be taken to a hotel where they’d sleep until 11 p.m., when they’d get up and do it all over again.
When he was driving the rock band Motörhead, Roundy said he always got questions about the partying and debauchery that people imagined happened on the tour buses.
“Everyone always says they must be crazy, but when they get on the bus they are wearing their bifocals and checking how much money they made,” Roundy said.
He says the exception to this rule is country performers. “Country guys get rowdy,” Roundy said with a laugh. “It was unbelievable.”
Roundy started off driving smaller country artists for weekend tours. He landed his first long-term tour with Moonalice, but had to back out of his contract early after twice being hospitalized for exhaustion.
In 2010, Roundy drove Justin Bieber on his first tour. He ended up driving Bieber for two separate tours, for a total of four years.
“With Justin we would do shows in New York City at Madison Square Garden or LA and (there were) not only celebrities but there were princesses backstage. I’m backstage and it’s like royalty walking by, duchesses walking by,” Roundy recalls. “I was a little bit in awe, you know but I’ve lost the whole celebrity thing. A lot of people would be really freaked out to be here and I’m like, ‘whatever.”’
Despite his nonchalance, Roundy describes the Bieber tours as the “weirdest and coolest” he’s ever been on. He attributes this to the “Beliebers,” the nickname referring to Bieber’s most devoted fans.
“We would pull up to a venue, 10 in the morning, and there’d already be 100 girls there. And when you left the next night at three in the morning or one in the morning, they’d still be there,” Roundy said.
Roundy recalls most of the fans being under 16 years of age. “Where are your parents? How are you even doing this?” Roundy wondered. The parents were often there, Roundy recalls, answering his own question.
“We would leave a venue and cars would follow us,” Roundy said.
The tour buses would drive for hours without stopping. “We’d pull up to a truck stop and they’re right there. ‘Stop. Get away from me,’” Roundy remembers thinking.
He recalls one particular night when the young fans stood blocking the exit from the venue with locked arms. They ended up calling the police to disband the blockade.
Roundy remembers one day when he was in Hartford, Connecticut, at an underground venue. “We’re backstage and Justin is trying to skateboard around and I’m on my phone shooting some stuff to Twitter. And (Justin) stops and is like ‘hey what are you doing man?’”
Roundy tells him he’s on Twitter and Justin asks for his Twitter handle.
“I gave it to him. Well, he tweets it out. I’m like, ‘You’re a total jerk.’ Literally, it was like I was watching it go up hundreds of thousands at a time. I’m like ‘I’m going to be the most famous guy on Twitter that has 12-year-olds following him,’” Roundy said. “I’m like ‘delete.’”
Bieber’s grandparents were on the tour and Roundy got along well with them both. Roundy fondly recalls smoking cigars with them on the bus.
“I had a lighter (that was) a middle finger. His grandmother saw it and was like ‘I want that.’ I’m like ‘Here you go.’ She was so surprised,” Roundy said.
Not all parts of the tour were positive however. During their first week of shows, they were in Hartford doing rehearsals. One day Bieber, who was only 13-years-old at the time, went up to Roundy and said “Excuse me mister, do you have the codes for the bus?”
Roundy gave them to him and recalls that Bieber was so excited to see the bus for the first time.
“The next day they’re doing rehearsals and I see him run by me, bawling his eyes out,” Roundy said. “(He) gets on the bus, locks all the doors.”
When asked, Roundy refused to open the doors to let Bieber’s manager on the bus.
“They drilled him into the ground. They were trying to make a buck and they were really killing him, I mean literally killing him,” Roundy said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Roundy was in Los Angeles with a Swedish punk band.
He remembers the call from his agency well.
“Come home. Everybody’s coming home on all buses. Every single tour,” Roundy recalls. “Everyone’s going home. So come home, get on your bus, fly home and we’ll call you when it’s time to come back out.”
He had just sold his home in Nashville and moved his fiancé to his grandparents’ house in Maine. Roundy expected to be there for a couple of weeks at the most. “We always said in our industry that we’re always secure, the alcohol industry and the touring industry are always there,” Roundy said.
For a while, Roundy remembers thinking, “I don’t belong at home.” It was a while before he was comfortable staying in one place again.
He got a job at Maine Energy Services and started his own Cabinet company called Zircon Custom Cabinetry.
When COVID started to slow down in 2022, Roundy knew he wanted to get back on the road. He drove for one more year before deciding he wanted to stay home with his soon-to-be wife.
“My wedding day, my phone was blowing up. Not saying congratulations, (but) hey can you fly out? I literally got married 30 minutes ago. I’m at my reception now,” Roundy remembers. “It was crazy.”
Roundy still gets calls asking him to drive, but he says there’s no artist working right now who could convince him to go back on the road.