My name is Jeannie Constance Guerrilla, and I am writing this from the basement of a sort of safe house, I suppose you’d call it, in a sleepy and disintegrating Australian town. The heater here doesn’t work very well. It’s unbearably loud. A few minutes after turning it on, it heats the metal of the grille to the point that it resonates at the same frequency as the spinning fan inside, and the whole thing rattles like a milk truck. Sometimes switching the fan between its two speeds quiets it down a bit, but it seems to have found an equilibrium of density. Now it rattles no matter what I do.
Listen to the album while reading the text.
I have been asked to write a few words about the conceptualization and recording of The Lucky Country. I was brought on as a tape warmth technician, initially, and ended up playing hand claps, pan flute, hydrophone, stylophone, feedback and ambient noise on the title track and on “The Larrikin is Dead”, although all of these parts were ultimately cut from the finished product. I also helped to steer the project from its fragmented and confused beginnings to its current form: a five-track indie rock EP.
I don’t know Leo well. He was looking for people to collaborate with, and a mutual friend put me onto him. We communicated and worked entirely over email. I’m not sure what exactly he was looking for in a collaborator. The material work I did is more or less entirely absent from the record, although you could argue that my fingerprints are there; we spent a lot of time discussing politics. Clearly the album ended up reflecting this. If I have any real influence over the music, I’d say that’s where it begins and ends.
Christ, the heater. It will not shut up. There are two aeonium succulents here. They’ve been brought inside because the rain out the back was bashing the soil right out of their pots. They now stand side by side in front of the big glass door upstairs. They are the same species – dropped from the same plant, even – but they are nothing alike. Burgeoning aeoniums change their form based on the conditions they grow in. One of ours has huge leaves, a few big bright flowering faces that soak up the sun like a basking croc. It stands tall and confident. The other was left, forgotten, behind a sheet of perforated metal that was leaned up against the shed. It is broad, squat, and dense. Its rosettes are small and numerous, fanning out like the leaves of a low shrub, purpose-grown to peek out from behind the metal sheet and to find tiny sunspots shining through the holes. It had to grow like this to survive. Its form is the direct result of its conditions. Now, when the weather is clement, it stands with its twin, out in the sun. They are both healthy and robust, but they will never be alike.
I stopped working with Leo before the completion of The Lucky Country. The final track is entirely new to me. The final verse of “Jeannie Cigarillo” is new as well. The song was not named after me when I knew it. It was called “The Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport, Communications, and Regional Development”. I was completely absent from the song, and if it were up to me, I still would be.
The story told in that final verse is mostly true, although Leo got a few details wrong. I never made a habit of baiting stockbrokers in the city. I was approached once by a guy while I was waiting on the corner with a friend – Alex, the same friend that initially put me in contact with Leo, I guess that’s how he got the story. I certainly didn’t tell him about it. This guy, full of himself in a suit that probably cost more than I made in a month, was being a creep. So I spoke back to him. And Leo got the line wrong, too, I don’t know if that’s his mistake or Alex’s. I said, “Nice suit. You’d look better in a guillotine.” It doesn’t seem that slick when I write it down, but to be fair, I was speaking off the cuff. I wish I could say that the line cut him down to size, but he just laughed it off and walked away. The real demons of the modern socio-economic nightmare always laugh it off. That’s how you can tell their moral postures are false if they even bother with them anymore. He’ll get his, one day.
– Jeannie “Cigarillo” Guerrilla