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 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).