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All Music Guide:
The Clean were one of the most influential New Zealand bands of the post-punk era. The band formed in the town of Dunedin in 1978, when Hamish Kilgour (drums) and his brother David (guitar) recruited David's school friend, guitarist Peter Gutteridge. Soon afterward, they opened for New Zealand punk rockers Enemy.
The Clean were one of the first bands in the country to play original material. They carved out a distinctive noisy but melodic sound, distinguished by David's screeching, distorted guitar. When the Kilgour brothers decided in 1979 to relocate the band to Auckland, Gutteridge had already left the lineup. The Clean played with a rotating bassist before David quit the band and moved back to Dunedin. Once he was back home, he was introduced to bassist Robert Scott and the two started playing together; news of his brother's new musical relationship prompted Hamish to move back to Dunedin and begin the Clean again.
In early 1980, the group began playing around town in earnest. In early 1981, a fan named Roger Shepherd began Flying Nun Records to release a single by the Clean, "Tally Ho!" With its jagged guitar, sweet melody, and persistent organ, "Tally Ho!" reached number 19 on the charts.
As they prepared to record their first album, they discovered that the small amount of New Zealand engineers didn't care for the band's material. The Clean didn't fight -- they backed down, deciding to record on a four-track under the guidance of Chris Knox and Doug Hood. In November, the Boodle Boodle Boodle EP was released; it surprised every observer by climbing to number four on the New Zealand charts.
Boodle and the 1982 EP Great Sounds Great captured the quirky sides of the Clean's sound, since they did not have the technology to replicate the band's roaring live sound. Later in 1982, the group released their loudest single yet, "Getting Older." Soon after its release, David Kilgour exited the band, moving back to Dunedin. Robert Scott left after David's departure, forming a band of his own, the Bats. Hamish Kilgour moved to Christchurch -- where Flying Nun Records was located -- and bought his own four-track. After Hamish had begun writing and recording, David came up to Christchurch to help finish up the solo tracks, as well as to record some Clean songs. The resulting music, released under the name the Great Unwashed, was collected on the album Clean Out of Our Minds. The music was a departure from the Clean's punk-injected sound; instead, it was folkier and more acoustic.
To promote the record, the Kilgours reunited with Peter Gutteridge while still using the name the Great Unwashed. On the ensuing tour, the band concentrated on Gutteridge's backlog of material; at the beginning of 1984, they recorded an EP called Singles, which earned quite a bit of airplay and sales. Bassist Ross Humphries was added so David Kilgour and Gutteridge could both play guitar, yet the Great Unwashed wound up breaking up within a year. Hamish Kilgour formed Bailter Space with guitarist Alister Parker, Gutteridge began developing a new band called Snapper, and David stopped playing for a few years.
The Clean -- the lineup featuring Robert Scott -- reunited in 1988 for two concerts in London; a five-song EP culled from the shows was released a year later. The members of the band were encouraged by the results and decided to embark on a world tour. After the tour ended, the band recorded a new album, which was more straightforward and pop-oriented than their previous material. The record, Vehicle, was released in the spring of 1990 and the band supported its release with a world tour. After the tour's completion, the band split again. David Kilgour formed Stephen, Scott returned to the Bats, and Hamish Kilgour was inactive; the group reunited in 1994 to record a new album. Modern Rock was released in late 1995, followed by Unknown Country in 1996. Getaway appeared in 2001 on Merge, but went unnoticed. Two years later, the definitive Clean collection was captured on the Anthology release. In 2003 the band released the first of two new live albums, Syd's Pink Wiring System: Live in New Zealand 2000 and 2008's Mashed: Live in New Zealand 2007 followed in 2009 by the all-new studio LP Mister Pop.
The Clean are an influential indie rock band that formed in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1978, and have been described as the most influential band to come from the Flying Nun label, whose repertoire included many major proponents of the "Dunedin Sound". Led through a number of early rotating line-ups by brothers Hamish and David Kilgour, the band settled down to their well-known and current line-up with bassist Robert Scott. Early incarnations of The Clean included Peter Gutteridge on bass (who wrote "Point That Thing") and Doug Hood on vocals (who later worked with Toy Love and founded the "Looney Tours" touring company). The Clean forged a distinctive and quirky sound that relied heavily on organ melodies and simple, Ramones-style chord progressions.
The band's auspicious 1981 debut single "Tally Ho!" was the second release on Roger Shepherd's Flying Nun Records label. Featuring a chugging rhythm and instantly memorable descending farfisa line played by Martin Phillipps of The Chills, "Tally Ho!" reached number 19 on the New Zealand Singles Charts, giving the fledgling label its first hit. Tally Ho was recorded for $50. A follow-up track on the band's Great Sounds Great EP titled "Beatnik" also achieved success, as did their second single, "Getting Older".
The Flying Nun label went on to become New Zealand's biggest independent record company, championing the Dunedin Sound, a loosely-connected style of music largely produced by bands from the southern city. Other artists on the label included The Chills, The Verlaines, The Bats, and Sneaky Feelings. The line-ups of these bands were often interrelated, with Peter Gutteridge being a founding member of The Chills, David Kilgour briefly in The Chills off-shoot band Time Flies, and Robert Scott being the founder of The Bats.
During much of the 1980s, The Clean disbanded, and during this time the Kilgour brothers worked together on an experimental album and EP using the deliberately punning titles "The Great Unwashed" and "Clean Out of Our Minds". Reforming in the late 1980s, the band explored a slightly poppier vein of music while still retaining their experimental edge.
Although they released several chart-topping singles in their native country, The Clean are a little-known cult band outside of New Zealand, although their influence is surprisingly far-reaching. They became a staple of college radio in the 1980s, Stephen Malkmus of Pavement cites them as a major influence, and the band's droney 80s output is a direct forerunner of bands such as Yo La Tengo and Camper Van Beethoven.
The Clean continue to produce music, with Flying Nun recently issuing a comprehensive collection of their previously hard-to-find singles. Output from the band has been sporadic over the years, with members involved in other projects and Hamish Kilgour living in New York. Other projects involving members of the band include The Bats and The Magick Heads (Scott), Stephen, The Heavy Eights (David Kilgour), and The Mad Scene (Hamish Kilgour).
In early 2007, The Clean toured New Zealand on their "Bangers and Mash" tour, during which they celebrated Hamish Kilgour's 50th birthday while playing at "The Studio" in Auckland on Saturday 17 March 2007. Later that same year, the band's best-known incarnation (Kilgour/Scott/Kilgour) reunited for a short East Coast tour of the USA. The tour began in Manhattan, NYC with four shows: an in-store performance at Other Music and a three night stand at the Cake Shop on the Lower East Side. Although the tour officially concluded with a performance at Johnny Brenda's in Philadelphia, the following week the band played an extra show at Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ, opening for Yo la Tengo at one of the group's annual Hannukah concerts.
In June 2008 a live album recorded during the 2007 New Zealand tour was released in New Zealand on Arch Hill Records, entitled "Mashed". A new studio album, titled Mister Pop was released on 7 September 2009 on Arch Hill, and on 8 September in the United States on the Merge label.
The Clean announced their first European dates in more than 20 years, supporting the cult U.S band Pavement at Brixton Academy on 10 May 2010. They also played at Butlins Minehead on 14 May. Other dates on the tour included Amsterdam (22 May), Hamburg (23 May), Berlin (25 May) and Barcelona's Primavera Sound festival (29 May).