The Clean have been announced today as the latest inductees into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame. After turning down the offer twice, band member Robert Scott tells Hussein Moses what it was that made them finally change their mind.
While there’s been a bunch of talk lately about who’s not in the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, it’s been announced today that The Clean will soon become the latest honourees when they’re inducted at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards later this month. ‘The best band in the world without question’ will join the ranks alongside the other 20 hall of famers including last year’s winners Moana Maniapoto and Bic Runga, and it’ll all happen in the band’s hometown of Dunedin, where the awards are being held for the first time in its 50-plus year history.
The Clean have always felt like outsiders to the New Zealand music industry and in the past five years they twice turned down the offer to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. But the ceremony won’t just be about the three current members of the band – brothers David and Hamish Kilgour, and Robert Scott. Founding member Peter Gutteridge, a true pioneer of the “Dunedin sound” who passed away in September 2014, will also be inducted at the event. Three years on from his death, Scott explains how Gutteridge played a role in The Clean’s decision to finally agree to the induction, and why – even now – the band have never craved validation for what they do.
Word is that you turned down the opportunity to be inducted into the Hall of Fame twice in the last five years. What was it that made you say no at first?
In some ways, it wasn’t really our thing. We didn’t feel like we were part of the industry and it just didn’t sit right with us at the time we were asked. It’s a funny thing, the awards. Obviously, it’s a great honour. At the same time, it can be something that doesn’t necessarily sit well at a certain time with us.
What’s changed since then? Why does now feel like the right time?
I guess the planets aligned and they got us on the right day. Also, with Peter Gutteridge’s passing, it seemed like a good opportunity because he’ll be inducted with us as well. So it’s recognition for him as well.
Did the fact that the Silver Scrolls are being held in Dunedin this year play any role in your decision?
Yeah, I think it did. I was talking to David Kilgour and he mentioned that last time we were asked he cheekily said something like ‘if they’re in Dunedin we might consider it’.
It’s the first time the awards are being held down there. Does it feel like it’s long overdue?
Yes and no. Obviously, the industry’s in Auckland so for them it’s understandable that it’s always been there. Like many things, they are concentrated in the Big Apple. But it’s a nice touch for them to finally do that.
What are you looking forward to the most when it comes to the ceremony?
Well, I’m kind of a self-effacing, modest kind of guy so I’ll probably find the whole thing slightly unsettling. But possibly a part of me will enjoy the whole process as well and enjoy the fact that we’ve been recognised in this way. And just catching up with friends that have come from various parts of the country as well.
There’s also the age-old Silver Scroll tradition of New Zealand artists covering songs by the nominees and hall of fame inductees. Is that something you guys get any say on?
No, I think Shayne Carter’s taking care of that. I’m not sure what he’s got lined up, or who he’s got to play. That’s going to be very interesting to see how that pans out.
How does it feel to know that people will be up there playing your songs in your honour?
It’s a funny feeling. There was a big tribute concert to us about 15 years ago called ‘God Save The Clean’ where a lot of people in Auckland got up on stage and did Clean songs and an album was released of that stuff. So it’s always fascinating to see other people’s take on your work and hearing it reinterpreted. It’s kind of cool.
In your opinion, do you feel like the music industry is moving in the right direction now?
I don’t know what direction the industry’s moving in. I think things go around in circles and I think people question things. If someone’s music is strong enough, people will turn to it and I think our music is strong enough for that to be the case. We’ve always been there or thereabouts in people’s minds. We have always operated outside the industry and to our own agenda. We’ve never been told what to do or chased fame and fortune, so it’s more that we do what we do and things happen around it. We kind of operate in a different way.
You won the Classic Record award at the Taites back in April and now you’re being inducted into the Hall of Fame. Does this feel like proof or validation that your music has stood the test of time?
Yes, in some ways. It is a validation from that side of the industry, so it’s a nice feeling. I guess for us a lot of it is about the people that listen to the music – the fans – and getting feedback from them or finding out through time and travel who listens to it and who enjoys it. So that’s a really big part of it. Having an establishment jump on board too is pretty good. But we don’t really crave validation of what we do. We do it for the love of the music and for our own enjoyment. The other things that come along are sort of the icing on the cake.
The Spinoff’s music content is brought to you by our friends at Spark. Listen to all the music you love on Spotify Premium, it’s free on all Spark’s Pay Monthly Mobile plans. Sign up and start listening today.
The Bulletin is The Spinoff’s acclaimed daily digest of New Zealand’s most important stories, delivered directly to your inbox each morning.