The name Vanessa Warwick will be familiar to rock fans in the nineties through her 7 year stint as VJ on Headbangers Ball. Vanessa presented the show from 1990 – 1997, during which time The Wildhearts were featured numerous times through their music videos, live performances and album playbacks. These days, Vanessa runs her own property business – Property Tribes, I caught up with her to discuss her shift in career path and share her memories of The Wildhearts.
Property Consultant doesn’t seem like the most obvious career move for an MTV VJ, how did that come about?
My progression from rock ‘n’ roll to bricks ‘n’ mortar took place over a number of years. I finished as a VJ in 1997, and spent the next few years focussing more on producing and directing music programming. I had the privilege of working with such artists as Madonna, Dido, and Coldplay, and also directed Motorhead’s 25th Anniversary Concert at Brixton Academy and their video for ‘God Save the Queen’. However, I found that budgets and commissions were declining and that I was under a constant strain to get new projects commissioned and I thought “maybe it’s time for a change?”
In 2002, I met my husband Nick and he was a huge influence on a change of direction. We wanted to create a more secure financial future for ourselves and we decided that property was a good way to go. I already had 2 flats in London and Nick had a house in Fareham, so we pooled our financial resources and started investing in property.
We are now celebrating our 10th anniversary as landlords and have over 20 properties mostly in London and the South East. In 2009, we formed Property Tribes as an on-line learning and networking community for landlords. We never intended it to be a commercial entity, but it has grown and grown, and is now one of the busiest property websites in the UK. This was achieved without any kind of marketing budget!
In 2011, we were able to turn this into an income generating business, so we now have our property portfolio and our property website. As a result of our success with Property Tribes, I have become a key influencer in the UK property scene and that has led to all sorts of consultancy – from property marketing to how to generate traffic for websites without a budget.
Do you still keep in touch with music? Any favourite current bands?
My life has taken some interesting turns and I no longer live in London, so not the avid gig-goer that I once was when I lived in the capital. Starting a business has also taken a massive amount of focus and time and I must confess that music has taken something of a back seat. I don’t watch TV or listen to the radio anymore, so I am not immersed in music like I used to be.
I still listen to my favourite bands of the Headbangers Ball era though as these are now timeless classics and always bring back very happy memories. The 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain‘s death last month prompted me to dig out some Nirvana tunes. It also reminded me how much time has passed since I last sat on the Headbangers Ball throne!
The gratifying thing is that I am still contacted by many fans on Facebook and Twitter and I will always chat with people there and share some metal memories. It is nice to be remembered after all these years.
Where did you first meet Ginger? …and first see The Wildhearts live?
I wish I could remember, but it’s a long time ago! I think it was my Production Assistant at MTV, Jim Parsons, who introduced them to me as he was a massive fan, and probably still is!
Obviously I knew Ginger from his stint with The Quireboys, so was interested to see which direction he would go with his new band. I think the songs resonate with so many people because they are born out of suffering and depression and have provided something of a lifeline for Ginger, in the sense of being cathartic or a kind of release. That makes them very authentic.
It was a very exciting time on the British rock scene with lots of great bands coming through. The Wildhearts were very rock n’ roll and their live show was incredible – so much energy and passion. They were unpredictable and didn’t take themselves too seriously and their longevity is something to be very proud of.
What were your first impressions? Any interesting stories?
My first impressions of The Wildhearts was a band of tremendous power but with really catchy tunes that were best served up live. Ginger was an enigmatic and unpredictable front man and the live shows were always individual and fiery – never “cookie cutter”. The level of fan engagement and interaction was always something to behold and there was an amazing atmosphere at the gigs.
I remember Ginger once said to me – “I’ve just got back from ‘Nam”. I said, “Vietnam?” Ginger replied, “No, Tottenham”. I have never forgotten that!
Debut album Earth vs The Wildhearts was hailed as an instant classic in the rock press, how influential do you think it was on UK rock music at the time?
The album took the path of all true classics. It started out as an underground buzz, the word spread via live shows, and it eventually went mainstream, and is now a seminal album. It was a snapshot of a moment in time – full of energy, excitement, contradictions, and personality.
Looking back, it is easier to see how important and influential it was, although at the time, the unpredictability of Ginger meant that you were never sure how long The Wildhearts would continue. If they had only released one album, it would still be relevant and has undoubtedly stood the test of time.
What are your memories of the album?
Great pop rock songs. Energy. Passion. Frustration. Venting.
Any favourite songs from ‘Earth vs’?
‘TV Tan‘ – a real sing-a-along anthemic tune.
Your approach to me to take part in this interview is much appreciated and prompted me to re-visit some Wildhearts tunes. They were part of the soundtrack to a very happy period of my life, so lots of memories. It’s also great to catch up on their news and to see that they have been touring this year. They have been around – on and off – for 24 years now. That’s some achievement in the MTV age of limited attention spans and is a testament to the quality of their songwriting, live performances, and loyalty of their fans.
I am sure they will have something planned for their 25th anniversary and I wish them all the very best for the future.