Weir – (J Hooper/E Hooper) and Mascara (J Hooper/E Hooper) – Killing Heidi 1999
Siblings Jesse and Ella Hooper were living in Violet Town (population 1084) in north-eastern regional Victoria, when they won a regional section of the radio Triple J Unearthed Song competition, with an original composition Kettle, they came to the attention of Melbourne record producer-engineer Paul Kosky – Ella was thirteen and Jesse was fifteen.
A year later Kosky signed the teenagers to a recording contract with his new recording label Wah Wah Music, a new rhythm section of Warren Jenkin (bass) and Adam Pedrotti (drums) was recruited and in 1998 the band went into Periscope, the Crowded House recording studio in Elsternwick (Melb) with Paul Kosky as producer to cut their debut album Reflector.
By late 1999 Jesse Hooper (18yrs old) and Ella Hooper (16 years old) were writing songs and performing like veterans, their confidence, creativity, and professionalism belied not only their youth but the fact that they were not music industry insiders but country kids with dreams, fiercely determined to make their mark, Ella was all dreadlocks, piercings and teenage angst and Jesse, bespectacled, fiery red hair, and ginger beard.
The first single taken off Reflector was Weir, a post card to their home town and the memories of the reservoir or weir which fed the town’s water supply and was a favorite swimming hole in the summer. The communal activities around the weir came to signify the friendship, youth, hopefulness, shared dreams and secrets of a small-town community “Floatin’ in the weir/ And you think you’ll never sink/ So you forget all your fears/ All your fears/ All your fears.”
The shifting tempo of the song builds to the chorus which is assertive and loud in a look-at-me kind of way, punky and grungy at the same time “Will you…/ Will you make it till the end/ Through all the twists and bends/ Will you fulfill your dreams/ It’s not as easy as it seems.”
Ella infuses the song with a knowingness and bravado of a vibrant front woman of much greater experience and the chemistry with her brother is obvious. A teen anthem, written by teens, for teens with an undeniable summery vibe, Weir charted #6 in Australia and #41 in NZ, the album Reflector was on the way to becoming the band’s first #1 hit in March 2000.
Mascara was the second single, released in November 1999, another assured record with big rock riffs, some great hooks and a powerful and energetic chorus which drove the song all the way to #1 “Don’t be stupid/ Down on your knees trying to appleaase/ Somebody’s mixed up statement/ Cause in not much time/Your beliefs that are lies/ Will be left on the pavement/They’ll be left by the way.”
The lyrics encourage others to think for themselves, not slavishly follow fashion or the ideas of others, to shape their own destiny, not conform to the social and sexual standards of cliques or be constrained by peer pressure.
At the ARIA Awards in 2000 Killing Heidi won four awards- Album of the Year, Best Group, Best Breakthrough Artist, and Best Songwriter(s) of the Year, by 2006 the group had disbanded, they had peaked early, but their initial output was memorable. Maybe the name Killing Heidi was a problem, even the Innocent Criminals were persuaded to change their name to silverchair to put a positive spin on their image. Better news was the band’s decision to commence a reunion tour in 2016 and hopefully a return to the recording studio in the future is imminent.