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xmag.com : June 2001: Killing Heidi

In this day and age where 20-something denizens still struggle with the rapidly tiring rock moniker of the rap/rock crossover, it's refreshing to see an act such as Killing Heidi and their "spunky alterna-pop" methodology begin to garner attention. The band first got noticed in their native country of Australia when alternative station "Triple J" (also responsible for breaking Silverchair, if you remember them) started playing their single "Kettle." Couple that with a highly successful tour with "Big Day Out" (Lollapalooza for the Land Down Under) and a brilliantly performed and engineered debut album, Reflector, on the independent label "3:33," and you might find yourself saying, "They've got all the makings of rock 'n' roll stardom." But are they good-looking enough? That would have to be an overwhelming yes.

The band got its start with Jesse and Ella Hooper, the brother and sister duo who then recruited two other members some time later...but only after they had a breakthrough hit. Jesse--tall with neatly dreadlocked red hair who's constantly seen in stylish eyewear--is the lead guitarist. Adam Pedretti is the quiet, yet extremely capable drummer, and Ella, recently featured in an all-too-sexy cover shot for the Australian edition of Rolling Stone, leads the way with her 18-year-old-nice-girl-femme-fatale fashion. In what has to be the most extreme example of dangerously good looks getting one in trouble, bassist Warren Jenkins actually got into a fist fight with the boyfriend of one girl who was, quite literally, throwing herself at his feet after a show. Next time you see a publicity photo of the band, look for the model good looks of Warren's face punctuated by a Blade Runner-esque swath of blue paint across the eyes in an almost Adam Ant fashion. Is the New Romantic look back? Nah... it's the best that a makeup artist could come up with on short notice to hide his black eye.

I was lucky enough to catch up with Killing Heidi on their radio/promotional stop in Portland, and soon began to feel quite old...and ordinary looking.


DJ Anon: So, do you guys in Australia all hate Paul Hogan?

Ella Hooper: Um...I don't think we hate him, but he's really not relevant and I don't even remember or know who he is.

DJ Anon: Well, you know, all of America is very excited about his new movie.

E. Hooper: Well, then we're not.

DJ Anon: Someone from Australia once said that all Aussies hate Paul Hogan, because he was like this local guy who did these various little projects, and then when he did Crocodile Dundee and became really big in America, he left his Australian wife and married this American actress and basically pissed everybody off.

E. Hooper: Bitch!

Warren Jenkins: (in a Paul Hogan fashion) THIS... is a wife!

DJ Anon: Are you guys like, on an official tour now, or are you just hanging out in Portland for the hell of it?

Jenkins: Officially, yeah.

E. Hooper: Well, we're not at home, so I suppose that's a tour for us.

Jesse Hooper: Well, we're out to play in support of the album and do some promotional appearances as well, so I guess it's a bit of everything.

DJ Anon: So, tell us about the Australian Grammys. When did that happen?

Jenkins: That was October of last year.

E. Hooper: They're actually called the ARIAs.

Jenkins: Yeah, Australian Recording Industry Association.

E. Hooper: But anyway, we got nominated for 8 of them, and we won 4, which was more than any other band got that night.

J. Hooper: Best New Artist, Album of the Year, Best Rock Group, and Best Overall Album.

Jenkins: It was live on TV, a big awards night and we just went bananas basically.

DJ Anon: Were Men at Work in the audience?

E. Hooper: Oh my God... they were! (laughs)

DJ Anon: Well, now you guys were saying that you had no idea that you were going to win any of those awards, though. Did you have anything prepared at all to say in your acceptance speech?

Jenkins: No, we didn't have any sort of speech prepared at all. We probably should have, because we had to get up in front basically the whole country on TV.

E. Hooper: And we just ended up looking like idiots, because we were like "oh... um... thanks everybody!" and that was it.

DJ Anon: Tell us about when you played "Big Day Out."

J. Hooper: It was probably the best tour that we've been on so far; I mean, it was fantastic.

DJ Anon: What made it so good?

J. Hooper: Just all the other bands and the fun times that we had...Rammstein were there, Placebo, Limp Bizkit...

E. Hooper: PJ Harvey, Coldplay, Black Eyed Peas...oh, it was just like heaven; I mean, I really feel like I'm getting to know all those people well, especially after partying with them in some of Australia's most beautiful places like Perth. It was so surreal, dancing around on the beach with Brian from Placebo and the drummer from Rammstein.

DJ Anon: Now, "Big Day Out" was largely a male band event, so I'll bet you were real popular at the band-only events where there's, like, all these guys in all-male bands and then there's Ella.

E. Hooper: Well, it was my oyster.

DJ Anon: What?!

E. Hooper: (laughs) No no no...! And here I had just turned 18, which is "legal" (drinking age) in Australia, you know.

DJ Anon: Not only were you close to the only woman there, but you had just graduated to "barely legal."

E. Hooper: Oh yeah, I made the most of it.

"Adam's got this thing in the rock scene where people point at him and say 'look at his hair...

it's so shiny and beautiful!'...and all the other drummers get jealous." --Ella

DJ Anon: Now, Jesse...you and Ella are brother and sister. Are you protective of her, or do you just sort of let her go and do her own thing?

J. Hooper: Well, since she's "legal" now, she can pretty much do whatever she wants; but up until that point, I kept an eye out for her... in fact, we all pretty much did.

E. Hooper: Yeah right!

J. Hooper: She's not agreeing with me, but...

DJ Anon: It's like... you want my sister's room key...? Here it is!

E. Hooper: $50!

DJ Anon: Ella, that's what's known as prostitution here in the U.S. Jesse, I didn't picture you as a pimp, but now that I look closer at you...Seriously though, it must be kind of weird where the legal drinking age in Australia is 18 and over here it's 21.

Jenkins: I think you should be able to bring your own rules with you when you travel.

DJ Anon: Like a special passport stamp that allows you to drink?

Adam Pedretti suddenly wakes up:

Pedretti: We want diplomatic immunity!

DJ Anon: Tell me about the song "Weir."

E. Hooper: Well, that was kind of our breakthrough song in Australia.

DJ Anon: What is a "weir" anyway?

E. Hooper: Well, it's pronounced like "weird," only without the "d" and it's like a big reservoir. There's one across the road from my best friend's house where I grew up, because I grew up in this tiny town in the middle of nowhere, and the local pool costs, like, $1.50 to get in, so, we just went to the weir and floated around on tires and stuff.

J. Hooper: That was some dirty water.

DJ Anon: What's amazing, Ella, is that when you sing, it's not the typical "rock star" look of veins popping out on the forehead and a furrowed brow and flaring nostrils--you look very poised...and very good.

E. Hooper: Yeah, I don't really know how I do that!

DJ Anon: You guys are a really good looking band... and you've got great hair!

E. Hooper: Adam's got this thing in the rock scene where people point at him and say, "look at his hair...it's so shiny and beautiful!"...and all the other drummers get jealous.

DJ Anon: Do you guys use Aussie Mega products in your hair?

Jenkins: I use Emu eggs!

DJ Anon: Well... ask a stupid question...




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