No soy yo muy fan de los regresos, los retornos o las apariciones de viejas glorias que intentan reverdecer laureles, pero estando, como estoy en estos días, dando vueltas y vueltas a las canciones del delicioso Vehicle y sumergido en el visionado de gran parte de la videografía completa de Flying Nun, no puedo resistirme a colgar la noticia.
Por cierto, a los más fetichistas de la cosa indie les gustará recordar que ya los Comet Gain versioneaban el clásico de los australianos Beatnik, en la cara B de su single You can hide your love forever (Fortuna pop)
The Clean's pre-eminent place in New Zealand music history comes down to two factors - their unchallengeable position as The Band That Started It All 25 and a bit years ago, and the group's absolute dedication to free-flowing chemistry and musical experimentation in the pursuit of creating incredible records and live shows.
The importance of the former and the influence of the latter over a huge stream of musicians in New Zealand and around the world ever since cannot be under-estimated.
The Clean have toured New Zealand and the world intermittently since their formation 25 and a bit years ago, influencing influential bands such as Pavement, Yo La Tengo, Lampchop and more. They were also the band that kick started the Flying Nun record label – who have also just celebrated their 25th birthday.
The Clean made their debut live performance with the Enemy in 1978 and their first recordings in 1981. These included the single "Tally Ho" which as folklore would have it was recorded for a total of $60, and their first EP Boodle Boodle Boodle – which went top five in the NZ charts. From the outset Hamish Kilgour played drums, David Kilgour picked up the guitar and various other folk passed through. After the first two years or so Robert Scott joined on bass. Hamish, David and Robert all wrote songs and they all sang. Memorable early tracks include "Billy Two", "Anything Could Happen", "Beatnik" and "Getting Older", "Point That Thing" and instrumentals "Fish" and "At The Bottom".
The Clean had broken up around 1983 with David particularly tired of the pressure of their relative success. The band wasn't back together again until they met up and played a show in London in the late 'eighties.
That London reunion show led to a New Zealand tour and then The Clean's first world tour. Back in London in 1989, they recorded their first full-length album for UK label Rough Trade and Flying Nun back home. Vehicle was made in three days and engineered by Alan Moulder (later to become one of the top producers of the alternative era, recording the Smashing Pumpkins, Nine Inch Nails and My Bloody Valentine).
In 1994 the Clean released Modern Rock and in 1996 Unknown Country, which saw organ and other keyboards adding to the grooves, as The Clean mixed bouncing pop tunes with continued experimentation. In 1997 a Clean Tribute album called "God Save the Clean" was released featuring international artists such as Guided by Voices, Barbra Manning & Calexico and Pavement, as well as locals contributions ranging from Gray Bartlett to HDU. The Clean released yet another great album in 2001 entitled Getaway and a US tour was interrupted in New York by the 9/11 disaster. In 2002 a double Anthology CD was released by Flying Nun in New Zealand and Merge in the US.
In between these various Clean activities, Robert Scott started The Bats, David and Hamish Kilgour played in the Great Unwashed with The Clean's original bassist, Peter Gutteridge, and Hamish headed to New York (where he still resides) with Bailterspace. David recorded and released five solo albums, and is about to release his sixth "The Far Now" in New Zealand and Australia on Arch Hill Recordings/Remote Control and the US on Merge.
The Clean story is on-again/off-again purely by design - it suits the trio's creative desires and keeps them clear of the machinery that threatened to interfere with that process from the moment they threatened to get awfully popular awfully quickly twenty five years ago. It is five years since their last tour of New Zealand, so these are shows not to be missed by any fan of the band or the sound
Wellington – Friday 16th March – San Francisco Bath House
Auckland – Saturday 17th March – The Studio
Leigh – Sunday 18th of March - Leigh Sawmill Cafe
Oamaru – Wednesday 21st of March - Penguin Club
Dunedin – Friday 23rd of March - Heritage Festival
Christchurch – Saturday 24th March - Jetset Lounge
Lyttleton – Sunday 25th March - Harbourlight
Tickets on sale nationally from 29th January at Ticketmaster.co.nz, Real Groovy stores and Fast & Loose in Auckland.