Evan Short and Matt Harvey, who enjoyed success in the early 2000s with their smash hit "Morning Light", have been performing on stage together for the first time in a decade, after Short left Concord Dawn in 2008.
The pair sat down with Metro’s Tess Nichol to have a cheeky and candid about the highs and lows of the last two decades, what it felt like to write an iconic tune, and how they stay up till 4am now they’re dads in their early 40s.
Metro: What did it feel like playing together again after so many years?
Evan: Surprisingly natural
Matt: It’s actually more fun and it’s more challenging, like ‘oh if he’s ending there then I’ll start from there’. You also get to rest your ears a bit, and pop off to the toilet if you need to have a wee-wee.
Evan: That’s a big one, especially if you’re doing three and a half hours. It is fun being together, doing it together again, you do get that relief you know - you’re not shouldering the whole thing.
Matt: And you get that mental relief too, of not having to think about what comes next.
Can you and your fans go as hard as you used to?
Matt: The gigs last weekend were full right to the end [4am], which was quite surprising. A lot of the older ones it was a one-off thing they wouldn’t be doing again next weekend. They maybe saved up a bit of energy, got a babysitter in.
Where in the country do you find Concord Dawn fans?
Evan: They’re all over the place.
Matt: One of the reasons I think we sold well in the past was we didn’t neglect the provinces.
Evan: The way the crowd presents themselves might differ, but they all like the same music. You play the west coast of the South Island, you get old Barry, 60-year-old farmer in his gumboots, who dances his ass off it’s awesome. You look at the front of the crowd and see a 19-year-old dancing next to someone older than us. I think there’s something non-exclusive to what we did and what we do.
Matt: I think [at the start people] could tell we weren’t cool.
Evan: So it’s inclusive.
Because we’re at the 20 year reunion, let’s take a look back. What are your highlights, and what are your regrets or lowlights?
Matt: I always liked travelling. If I look back on my life, it was being able to travel and meet people from different cultures and see what humans have in common. The biggest regret is that we didn’t really have someone running the business, running stuff like publishing, and running the label for us at a really high level. I think we probably lost a few opportunities there.
So you feel like you could have capitalised further on your momentum?
Matt: Yeah, it might have made us some more money, but I don’t know if it would have made us any happier.
Evan: It’s kind of hard not to, for me, forget feeling like you’d finally created something which deserved the praise it was getting. Matt and I had done two albums and people would say ‘Oh its is great’, and it was getting played up and down the country, but I never felt like it was particularly good. It’s like one of your children, you’re not going to hate it, but it’s not what you want it to be. And when we managed to write "Morning Light", just the response that you got from everyone instantly from it [was amazing]. We were playing a gig in Takaka with Bad Company [a UK drum and bass group] who were big idols of ours, and we played straight after them and I opened with "Morning Light" and it was the first time we played it in public, and Darren [White] was just like ‘What is this? You’ve got to give this to me now’. We managed to write another couple of pieces that I think was really close to that, but that was really special. That feeling of knowing that you’ve done this and listening to it yourself and thinking ‘Yeah I can't fault that’. I listen to it now, and it’s aged, and it’s of its time but -
It still slaps?
Evan: Yeah, and I don’t know how we did it.
Matt: There was a real magic time there. There was a period too that labels were signing tunes of ours that weren’t really even that good. And we were just like - everything you did everyone thought was amazing even if it wasn’t.
Evan: Going back through the back catalogue to find stuff for this tour, like ‘Oh I did that thing on "Shadow" remember, I’ll remix - oooh no that’s not good, next’.
Matt: There are some that still sound great, but it is interesting the way momentum works in the music industry - like ‘Oh the new Drake song is amazing’ and it’s like… the emperor is naked. Not to pick on Drake.
So what happened when Evan left - were you still mates?
Matt: There was a yucky six months before we split up, and a yucky six months after. But not with lawyers and swearing or anything. It’s like if you’re in a relationship with someone and you start getting annoyed about little things like whose turn it is to do the dishes and stuff, and then you break up and it’s like, 'Oh we can still be friends'. One of those kinds of relationships. No smashing of crockery or stabbing with knives.
Evan: That's probably one of the best things we did - Matt and I have been friends since we were 11 years old, have played music together off and on since then. It only took less than a year, before we were able to sit down and say, 'Cool - mates? Mates'.
The above has been edited for clarity.
Concord Dawn will be playing at the Yot Club in Raglin on August 30, and Neck Of The Woods in Auckland on August 31. Tickets here.