December 1, 2023

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The Clean’s Hamish Kilgour Dies at 65

In 1988, the Clean reunited to perform in London, resulting in the In-A-Live EP, which presents five of their classic songs in 16-track sound; the same year, the Clean’s music officially hit the United States as a collection titled Compilation, released via future Matador label founder Gerard Cosloy’s Homestead Records. Bookended by two world tours, the second phase of the Clean also spawned their first proper album, 1990’s Vehicle (issued via Flying Nun in partnership with UK indie stalwart Rough Trade), before things fizzled out once again. Later in the decade, the Clean got back together for a fresh pair of albums—1995’s Modern Rock and 1996’s Unknown Country—before yet another hiatus.

By the time the trio next reconvened, in 2000, the Clean’s influence on a new, largely American generation of bands—including Pavement, Galaxie 500, and Guided by Voices—was clear. Their album the following year, Getaway, came out on Merge, the U.S. independent label founded by Superchunk’s Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance; Yo La Tengo’s Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan guested on the songs “Alpine Madness” and “Circle Canyon,” too. Flying Nun and Merge jointly released the career-spanning Anthology in 2003, and the Clean followed with the new studio album Mister Pop in 2009. New Zealand’s devastating 2011 earthquake scuppered plans for another potential full-length, but the Clean kept on gigging in subsequent years, as sporadic as ever.

Outside of the Clean, Hamish Kilgour played in an array of projects. During the Clean’s early break, he and David teamed up as the Great Unwashed for 1983’s Flying Nun–issued Clean Out of Our Minds; several years later, during another fallow period for the Clean, Hamish Kilgour co-founded the space-rock band Bailter Space. In 1991, he moved to New York and formed the long-running project the Mad Scene with his later-ex-wife, Lisa Siegel, releasing their own low-key run of albums (1993’s A Trip Thru Monsterland; 1995’s Sealight; 1996’s Chinese Honey; and 2012’s Sonic Boom–produced Blip) and assorted EPs. Kilgour finally made his solo debut in 2014 with All of It and Nothing. Four years later, he released Finklestein, based around a children’s story that he made up for his son.

In 1992, Kilgour won an Aotearoa Music Award in New Zealand for album cover of the year for the Flying Nun compilation Pink Flying Saucers Over the Southern Alps. In 2017, the Clean were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. Peter Gutteridge, another founding member of the Clean, died in 2014.

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