When you think New Zealand, quality rock isn’t usually what comes to mind. Back in the early ’80s, though, a small label called Flying Nun Records began churning out stimulating releases by bands such as the Verlaines, Tall Dwarfs, and the Clean.
The Clean was probably the most interesting, and successful, of the collection. Listening to them today, the band’s scrappiness, pop charm, and strange turns sound like an obvious predecessor to a group that would ride the same formula to underground stardom in the United States — Pavement.
- Sunday, August 3, 2014, 8 p.m.
- Soda Bar, 3615 El Cajon Boulevard, San Diego
Perhaps to return the favor, the Clean’s main songwriter, David Kilgour, was invited to join Pavement on a U.S. tour in 1994. The tour ended in the Southwest, where Kilgour begins this nightmarish recollection of his “holiday” before returning to New Zealand: “My only San Diego experience was at the end of a tour supporting Pavement promoting my LP Sugar Mouth. Before returning to NZ, my partner and I took off on a holiday to Joshua Tree. Second day there, the key to our rental car became stuck in the ignition. So, we set out to San Diego, where we are told we can get another car. On getting there, they tell us they have no replacement for us but will in the morning. So, we stay the night in SD. In the morning they still have no replacement car. I start to melt down and suddenly they bring us a Cadillac convertible sports car — nuts. We go to Tijuana for the day, I get a shoeshine and a tequila and get the hell out of there after buying some Mexican masks. We then drove to Long Beach where I hired a surfboard and surfed small, onshore waves. Then we drove to the L.A. Melrose shopping area, park our car, go shopping, and return to find all our belongings stolen (apart from passports, cash, guitar, and credit cards). I had a huge amount of photos I took on that Pavement tour, all gone, and a gorgeous pair of ankle-high Italian suede boots! We return to NZ with a pillow case for baggage. But the travel insurance did pay for a new refrigerator amongst other things.”
Kilgour is “crossing his fingers” that he will be able to squeeze in a surf session when he stops in San Diego to play the Soda Bar with his backing band, the Heavy Eights, on August 3. Their short U.S. trek coincides with the release of their new LP, End Times Undone, and an appearance at this year’s “Merge 25 Festival.”