13 Days of Halloween Horror Interview: Ewan Smith (By Your Leave)

As part of 2019’s 13 Days of Halloween, we here at Games, Brrraaains & A Head-Banging Life thought it would be fun to see if some of the bands and artists we love had any interest in horror. It turns out quite a lot do so we turned it into an interview.

1. First things first…introduce yourself please!

My name’s Ewan Smith, and I’m the Executor/bass player for the heavy metal band By Your Leave. I’m also the one that usually causes the others to cry out in disgust.

2. What are your top 3 favourite horror movies and why?

For me, the top 3 horror movies are not in any particular order. But the first has to be Alien. It still can’t be beat for the feelings of claustrophobia. Next would be the Spanish film [REC]. Lastly, and possibly controversially, is Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.

3. Do you remember your first experience with horror? Was it at a young age?

My first horror moment was when I was about 6 or 7 years old. My dad had Jeff Wayne’s War of the World’s playing on the old vinyl, and when I heard the call of the aliens on that it made me terrified to my bones. I couldn’t get over the sound for years. But proper horror? 10 years old watching Jaws for the first time. I didn’t even want to swim in a pool for months after watching it.

4. What era of horror is your favourite & why?

My favourite era of horror is probably the one we’re just moving into. Directors like Mike Flanagan (Oculus, Haunting of Hill House) are starting to really work on some fantastic pieces. And not just gore fests – really unsettling set-pieces that last with you. And that’s the best kind of horror, the kind that lasts with you. Otherwise I’d say the period between the 60s and 80s that brought us the classics like The Omen and The Exorcist.

5. What frightens or creeps you out in horror?

For me, what scares me, is when a character can’t tell if what is happening is real or not. That’s probably linked to my own personal fear of going crazy and not being able to differentiate what’s in my head and what’s actually there. That and humanoid creatures out of regular proportion (spindly arms and legs… blegh!)

6. Who is your horror inspiration? Be it a director/actor/author etc.

My horror inspiration? There’s two. The master that is Stephen King, and the other is Clive Barker. King has done so much work that plays with the human mind, but also the paranormal. And then Barker has the nastiness thrown in too. The imagery in his books is grotesque and I bloody love it.

7. Do you enjoy modern horror or do you look to the past for your fix?

Modern horror has some real gems out there. People are starting to really work hard on it rather than just churn out crap for an easy buck. Sure, there’s still plenty of those, but there are diamonds out there. Take the recent IT films. I loved them. I mentioned Mike Flanagan before and he’s got Stephen King’s sequel to The Shining, Doctor Sleep, coming out soon which I am really looking forward to – it’s still in my top 5 of his books and should be a proper creepout.

8. What horror movie is universally beloved that you just don’t like?

I can’t think of any particular universally beloved horror movies that I don’t like. There was one with kids on Skype or something where they all started dying off… Unfriended? I don’t know how popular that was but I thought it was too predictable.

9. If you could shoot one horror cliché/trope into the sun to never be used again. What would it be?

The horror trope I would happily never have around again would be the classic teens being teens getting murdered, particularly the ones where said guys and gals are played by people 10 years older than their characters. Its been done to death and just makes me want to fall asleep immediately. Some films have done excellent twists on this, and they’re great, but any that still try the same old pattern? Nah. Get in the sea.

10. Same question but about type/style. What type or style of horror would you happily never watch again?

With regards to type/style of horror I’d happily never see again? Tough. Perhaps the action/horror type of movies like the Underworld series or Resident Evil. Sure, they’re fun, but they very quickly became stale and ended up just mocking their own source material. For one to come out that I’d take notice of it would have to be proper good.

11. What gets you excited when watching horror?

For me, the most exciting part of horror movies is the build up of tension. You know there’s something horrific round the corner, but you don’t know when it will strike. Those perfect moments when you know the shit is about to hit the fan but you’re unsure of exactly when or how. When that intensity gets so bad that you end up nearly off your seat – nothing better in a horror film.

12. Have you had any real life scary experiences? We’re talking supernatural or something that can’t be reasonably explained.

I’ve dealt with some actually scary people. The kind of people who threaten to kill you in front of your whole family and you can see in their eyes that they really would. And there have been times when my own mental health has got so bad that I’ve seen stuff – shadows having faces, dark figures beside my bed. I knew they weren’t real, but the instinctual part of me wanted to scream at them to go away. Thankfully I’m in a much better place nowadays!

Quickfire Questions

1. Favourite overall franchise (3 or more movies)?

Evil Dead!

2. Most memorable character death?

The woman who got her skin torn off by Pyramid Head in Silent Hill.


3. Best horror twist?

Cabin In The Woods (spoiler alert! They’re a sacrifice to giant god’s under the earth!).

4. Favourite Stephen King book?

Not a well known one. The Long Walk, originally written under his pseudonym Richard Bachman.

5. Best remake of a horror movie?

Bram Stoker’s Dracula – the most stylish Dracula film ever made.

6. Worst remake of a horror movie?

The Wicker Man.

7. Favourite horror villain?

Pinhead. Gotta love the deep voice, goth getup, and excellent make-up.

8. It’s Halloween night…you settle down with some popcorn to watch…what?

Halloween night? We’re watching loads! But always the original Halloween. Still great to this day.

We’d like to thank Ewan of By Your Leave for taking the time to speak with us. You can find our more about the band by checking out their Facebook Page here.


  • Carl Fisher

    Owner/Administrator/Editor/Writer/Interviewer/YouTuber - you name it, I do it. I love gaming, horror movies, and all forms of heavy metal and rock. I'm also a Discworld super-fan and love talking all things Terry Pratchett. Do you wanna party? It's party time!