In 1978, The Clean were the seeds of New Zealand punk. In the years since, they have carved out a big sandbox for everyone to play in, and their influence resonates not only in NZ but around the world. A group that thrives when free of expectations, The Clean’s Robert Scott, Hamish Kilgour, and David Kilgour are, as Tape Op described, “a casually wonderful band.”
Pitchfork writes: “The Clean have always exuded a casual grace that suggests they’d still be making the same records even if no one was listening, employing the same set of devices ramshackle locomotive rhythms, buoyant basslines, swirling organ lines, and wide-smile melodies irrespective of prevailing fashions, technological developments, or geopolitical unrest. And yet, the Clean’s periodic resurgences serve as a reminder that, in a world of uncertainty, there are still some things you can rely on.”
David Kilgour on Unknown Country: The Clean always wanna try something different, but on this LP, we were obsessed with the idea. Tracks like “Wipe Me, I’m Lucky” and “Franz Kafka at the Zoo” are fine examples of the approach, I reckon. Quite a long way from “Tally Ho!” and “Beatnik”!
I remember we generally left vocal ideas to last, after the tracks were recorded, so we never really knew where we were headed. Might also explain all the instrumentals! Made during the Balkan War, hence the reference. And for the freaks, I think “Balkans” is the only Clean track ever to not actually feature The Clean playing. It’s all Alan Starrett, as we removed the backing track.
Robert Scott on Unknown Country: This album is very different from our other albums. We didn’t go into the studio with many “song” ideas—a lot of it was written on the spot. I really enjoyed recording this as it was free of expectation. We weren’t playing much live at the time. It does contain some of my favourite Clean songs such as “Twist Top,” “Wipe Me, I’m Lucky,” and “Valley Cab.” Certainly our most experimental album.
Wipe Me, I’m Lucky
Champagne & Misery
Changing Your Head
Franz Kafka at the Zoo
Get the Liquid
Happy Lil Fella