After 10 years, drum 'n' bass stalwarts Concord Dawn have gone their separate ways. Scott Kara reports.
Musicians often talk about how being in a band is like a marriage. It's a handy cliche but, in the case of drum 'n' bass duo Concord Dawn, it really was a match made in heaven.
That was until, like marriages sometimes do, they drifted apart and started wanting different things. And Matt Harvey (the bearded and cheekier-looking one) and Evan Short (the rougher, tougher and more metal of the pair) had been separated for a while before they finally got a divorce, two years ago.
Harvey was stationed in Vienna, playing the European circuit under the name Concord Dawn, with Short based in Auckland, playing locally, and in Australia and the United States.
"It wasn't really working out between the two of us anymore on a musical level. We were heading slightly in a different direction, you know," says Harvey on the phone from Vienna.
So they decided to call it quits after nearly 10 years together. But unlike many divorces it was amicable and the two are still mates, with Harvey being the best man at Short's real-life wedding after the parting of ways.
"There was nothing vicious or bitter or anything. We worked out how to divide the spoils in a matter of three minutes," he laughs.
Short got most of the studio gear and wanted to concentrate on his engineering work, having done albums for the likes of Shapeshifter (The System is a Vampire) and PNC (Bazooka Kid), and playing guitar in metal band Subtract, while Harvey took the band name and continues to play and make music as Concord Dawn.
After a four-year gap between albums, Concord Dawn are to release fifth album The Enemy Within on Monday - and Harvey admits the process has been a little stressful without a sidekick.
"It's great to have someone else's opinion on things. Even if it's just to confirm what you already knew. And when you're used to being in that type of relationship, it takes a while to get used to making your own judgment calls.
"I tried not to make it too different from the stuff that's gone before. But at the same time, I wrote the music that I wanted to write."
The album bristles with Concord Dawn's trademark mix of nasty bass, epic build-ups, and relentless rhythms (as well as a guestlist that includes everyone from fellow drum 'n' bass cohort Bulletproof to rootsy country singer Thomas Oliver and pop singer-turned-producer Rikki Morris).
This is All There Is and the fiery Burn at the Stake hark back to the scorching sound of the band's first two albums, Concord Dawn (2000) and Disturbance (2001); then there's the title track, an epic vocal anthem akin to Morning Light off 2003's Uprising or Broken Eyes from last album Chaos By Design in 2006, and One and Only, is drum 'n' bass laced with a 90s techno piano.
Perhaps the most striking collaboration is opener Forever with Morris, who lends a dark new romantic edge to Harvey's head-down, bum-up drum 'n' bass.
"It had an 80s feel and I needed a great singer from the 80s and I remembered him from when I was young."
Harvey has remained resolute and loyal to drum 'n' bass since the band formed in the late 90s, even though the genre has had its ups and downs in terms of popularity.
"I've always liked it, you know," he laughs. "It's not that I just listen to drum 'n' bass at home. I take influence from everywhere, and I try to incorporate them into drum 'n' bass.
"For me, if you're doing something you really want to master the art and craft of it - and doing something different with it and reinventing it."
Harvey "and the missus" have lived in Vienna for nearly five years now and he says it's a good, centralised base to tour from. It's also a far more laid-back and more intimate city to live in than somewhere like London.
"London's a bit full-on. Musically speaking it's trendy, but Vienna, because it's been the home of an empire, seems older and everything is a bit slower. I mean dubstep hasn't really broken here," he says of the more sluggish and bass-heavy music genre that morphed out of drum 'n' bass, UK garage, and dub.
"People just don't tend to get taken up by trends so quickly and it's just a bit more stable. It suits me, I'm getting older," he jokes.
But it still has a lively music scene, from being the stronghold of Kruder and Dorfmeister's stylish electronica and dance label G-Stone, to the thriving techno and drum 'n' bass scenes.
And he's doing okay out of his beloved style of music. He gets around, too. The week TimeOut talked to him he was heading to Paris ("I like to go shopping when I'm there."), then Porto in Portugal ("There's a really cool guy called Marco who has booked Concord Dawn seven times. I used to go there once a year."), before packing up and heading home for a 12-date tour starting in Dunedin tomorrow and hitting Auckland on October 2 and 15.
"It has its ups and downs and it hasn't really slowed down for a while now," he says. "Obviously dubstep is the in-thing at the minute, but drum 'n' bass is still alive and kicking. And if people want to keep on dancing, then I'll keep on making tunes."
Who: Concord Dawn, now Matt Harvey after parting ways with Evan Short
What: Drum 'n' bass stalwarts
New album: The Enemy Within, out Monday
Past albums: Concord Dawn (2000); Disturbance (2001); Uprising (2003); Chaos By Design (2005)
On tour: Flow, Hamilton, September 25; North Harbour Stadium LG, Albany, October 2; Colosseum, Tauranga, October 8; Zen, Auckland, October 15