Monday, 1 June 2015

The Holiday That Went Wrong

A profile feature written by Cornelia Koppang Henriksen

It was winter and the weather was freezing cold. The snow did not seem to ever stop falling down from the dark sky. But that was ok. This moment was unbelievable. Unbelievable, because no one would ever believe him if he told them that he was sitting on the rooftop of the Moscow Kremlin smoking weed with two KGB agents.

“Do you want a cup of coffee?” David Morey is smiling from his kitchen with two coffee cups in his hands. He seems like a normal 60-year-old, he got his own orchid garden and a beach view from his balcony. But David is far from what you will characterize as plain and ordinary. He is Australian born, but he grew up in Santiago in Chile, and after living both here and there in the world, he has now lived in Townsville for the last six years. A year ago he started his master degree in geology at James Cook University, but in his bedroom closet he has a hidden collection of old treassures that can tell some wild stories about his past.

“I am so sorry,” he says after a big yawn. “I went out last night and it got too late, I am quite hungover today.” He turns on the water kettle and leaves the room. When he comes back, he is carrying a huge plastic bag, which he empties on the kitchen table. “There are under a dozen people I have showed this to. It is a part of my life I do not talk much about”.

At least a couple hundred backstage passes and key cards from different music tours and concerts in Europe are spread all over the table. Names of bands and artists like Whitesnake, Pixies, Ozzy Osbourne, Björk and Cliff Richard are printed on a bunch of them. “One day I am going to put them out on Ebay, or something. I think I could get good money for them”. David smiles and keep going through the pile of cards until he finds the backstage pass he was looking for. It is from the Nevermind tour with Nirvana in 1991.

For 15 years he worked as a tour manager and promoter in the music industry and owned a production company in London. He dated Björk, hung out with Kurt Cobain at his last weeks, and went from concert to concert and from tour to tour. “We traveled around the world with lots of indie bands for a long time, like Teenage Fanclub and Nirvana. Nirvana was really small back then. It was a funny time.”  

A soft clicking sound from the kettle tells us that it is time for coffee. He leads the way out to the porch and place two reeking hot cups on a wooden table. Even though we are close to the city, there is this feeling of being alone in a small jungle. Birds are singing and tall green trees are cutting off most of the city noise. David sits down, crosses his legs and lights a cigarette.
“It was a holiday gone wrong,” he laughs.  “I went to visit a friend of mine who was working for catering and music companies in London. I ended up in a bar with her boss and he offered me a job for three months.” He drops the ash of his cigarette and continues with a grin. “And then I just kept doing that, it escalated, and I started going on tours with bands.”

Private photo

Right before the Soviet Union collapsed, he did a concert for Zucchero in the Kremlin, the main parliament hall in Moscow. “We were told that it was hard to find fresh goods in Russia, so we smuggled loads of food, cigarettes and liquor with us on the train from Berlin.” David leans forward and grabs his coffee cup. “Two KGB guys used to come to make sure everything was all right, I always offered them some of our food. We became friends, and one night they said they had something to show me. They led the way up some wooden stairs and trap doors. Eventually we were on the roof of the Kremlin. It was in the middle of the night, it was snowing and we sat there and smoked a joint. I remember I thought: ‘No one has ever done this before'."

“One of them is still my friend, and still KGB. I've got him on Facebook. He is picking up my mum at the airport in Moscow on Sunday, and he is going to take her to dinner and show her around the city.” David takes a sip of his coffee and shakes his head. “It is pretty cool, my mum is being showed around by the KGB, someone I met almost 30 years ago.”
Private photo
He ran his company from London for many years, until one life-changing day in 1998. “Then the tax man came to our door and asked for 40.000 pounds, I left the country a week later and hid in India for six months,” he starts laughing again. “I have never been back to England, and I still owe that money.”

 “It was kind of like Spinal Tap, only with better drugs,” he smiles for a short second before his eyes get serious. “It is not even close to living in the real world. There is no reality in it, just shitloads of drugs, shitloads of girls and shitloads of piss. No, I do not miss it.” David takes another cigarette from a packet on the table. “I am not a coke head anymore.”

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