The Spirit of the Warrior: An Interview with Gideon Smith

Not only is Gideon a very talented and well respected musician, he is now in the middle of starring in his very own film. We caught up with him to talk specifically about his love for horror and how the darker side of life has certainly influenced his career.

Tell me, what is your earliest memory of discovering the wonderful world of horror?
“The first horror films I saw were on television in the early seventies. Even if they were awful or awesome, I loved them. So if a horror or monster movie was on tv and I had a chance to watch it was really exciting.Then later when I grew up I started watching them all the time. My friends and I wore out any one we could find. I think I probably watch even more now than I did then! I think my first favorite horror movie was probably ‘Phantasm’. One I will never forget is seeing ‘Hellraiser’ in ’87 when it was released in a small empty movie theater in the upstairs section of a run down shopping mall. There was a small crowd of people and we thought it was the craziest movie ever. When the ‘Halloween’, ‘Friday the 13th’ and a lot of the 80’s films came out they were really super creepy and it was kind of unspoken among people you weren’t supposed to watch them so of course me and my friends all wanted to. Movies like ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ and ‘The Omen’ were big ones. I also loved things like ‘Godzilla’, ‘Ultra man’, monster movies and sci-fi.”

As such a big horror fan, do you find that it influences your music and any other creative endeavors?
“Although my music is not exactly any kind of horror rock or whatever you might call a style that is more abrasive, I would say the elements of horror and the supernatural appear within my work or influence what I do in a more early Gothic music way. I always loved bands like Sisters of Mercy, The Cult, Bauhaus, Sabbath, stuff like that.The Doors were the pioneers of American Gothic rock because they were such a mysterious and original band at that time. I feel my music has the key elements in what also makes good horror: which is music, magic, mystery, passion, hoping to prevail over adversity, pointing the finger toward the supernatural and spiritual symbols that are doorways. So yes, it does influence me even though I don’t claim to be any kind of horror movie themed musician. The guys who just use the stage props and skulk around like yapping hyenas of the music scene, they don’t get it. They don’t have any depth to what they do. And that’s the key question. Do you see a film or musician with that kind of vibe and feel a powerful feeling? Or do you see a guy wearing make up and using props and have a laugh? Is it just entertainment or is there an eerie vibe of ‘there’s something more here’ that you can’t deny? Some bands casually toss out the imagery, especially certain esoteric symbols, but if you don’t get that feeling, there’s no weight inside what they do.”

What do you think about modern horror films? Are they all out for gore and shock value or do you think they have a valuable place in film history?
“I like some of them. I think it all comes down to first having a good story. It can be cool visually but the story is so important. Gore for the sake of gore is boring. I have never been a straight up gore fan. The films that tried to push the shock value with the gore type horror movies like the “Saw” stuff, I don’t really like any of it. I like a good story in a horror film. I tend to like supernatural and monster type themes best. Stories engage people more than just special effects. As far as having a valuable place, yes I would say so but only for a small circle within a circle type genre of horror films. They crumble compared to the films from past or present that have an awesome story line because people love a film with a good story like they love hearing a good one in conversation. If someone said ‘one time I saw splattered fake blood all over a room’ it’s not engaging. If someone says ‘one time I knew this guy who said he saw a werewolf..’ then immediately you’re excited to hear the story. Anybody could stand there and run a fake buzz saw and the focus is on the gore but only a few could stand totally still and look at the audience like the first time you see Anthony Hopkins in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and just shake somebody with his presence. That scene also sums up ‘what is power?’. The other people that Jodie Foster passes in the hall are jumping around acting insane as one would anticipate. She just walks by. It’s the guy who stands there looking straight ahead that’s so much more affective. The appeal and magnetism of a work of art is just like one of a individual might you know. It’s similar to your interaction with a person you come across. If every time you ran into a certain friend that you needed to get out of your life because all they did was complain, moan and yap away like an angry little dog you don’t even want to talk to them. You get rid of them if that’s all they do. Because that’s what they want to be. A person who you speak with regularly or run into somewhere and the two of you have a conversation that is immediately engaging, interesting or memorable then you look forward to being around that individual again. So it is the same with art, music, film. People go to what they’re attracted to: people who want to hear about misery seek misery, people who want to hear about passion and fire seek emotional fire. People who want the answers to a mystery, go deeper into the mystery. The finest, most excellent horror films have mystery, tension, exciting action, fear, but they hold some kind of fascinating passion that engages the person. The fear does a dance in the story. People speak of shock, but think of a shock, it’s immediate flash of something in an attempt to shake you. Those can be fun for sure. But the long slow dance and then the climax is where the epic power lies.”

more-photos-dec-1-2013 021(1)If you could make your own horror film and could ask anyone, alive or dead, to star in it who would be your horror dream team?
“David Carradine would be the hero. Christopher Lee the villan and they’d have a super awesome face off in the end. Ken Foree would be Carradine’s partner. Johnny Depp and I would hang out and just listen to Carradine silently and assist him. Keith Richards would be the back up guy they called for emergencies. Barbara Hershey would be the female lead. Brandon Lee would be in it and he and I would hang out in a scene with Top Dollar’s evil sister. That guy from ‘The Howling’ who looks like Chuck Norris but isn’t really Chuck Norris would be in it. Then I would discuss anthropology with Dr. Alan from ‘Serpent and the Rainbow’ and his pal Louis Mozart and we’d team up on the evil houngan from that movie. Then in the end David Carradine would play the flute by a river and feel peaceful we had prevailed and I would nod in solemn agreement as the credits began. Jimmy Page would sit with us and smile… a knowing smile of Zeppelin-Crowley enlightenment. So there ya go.”

Tell me more about the film Warrior Spirit.
“The film is an independent movie that began when the producer Peter Gordon Donald asked me if he could make a movie about me. Peter is a brilliant man and a pioneer in television from his days at Fox TV and a well respected music journalist (Rolling Stone, GQ, Vanity Fair, Entertainment Weekly, etc.). Peter managed Travis Meeks from Days of The New and had been a fan of my music for many years. For eight or nine years he was always keeping in contact and pursuing me with offers for music ideas. One day last year he called from New York City and said he wanted to make a movie. As the long process of very crazy preproduction lasted well over a year, it shifted from a more traditional picture to a ‘found footage’ genre film. Rather than having one of the actors approached to play me in the film, it shifted to a new concept where I play myself surrounded by actors with cameos by friends associated with my history. I truly am just totally honored. I think its an innovative concept, because of all the ‘lost tapes of..’ films out there this is the very first and only about a rock musician (stoner rock, doom metal, southern rock, an NC artist, etc.) and the only one about a guy with a truly eccentric crazy life like mine. Originally the idea was to film in Woodstock, then New Orleans, then Los Angeles and other locations. We said to make it the most realistic we needed to get to the heart and film in the Carolinas. We are filming it now in North Carolina and we have been having so much fun. The film is about my journey during certain eras of my life presented in the ‘found footage’ style. It was an exhausting, all encompassing epic battle for well over a year during preproduction but once we started filming it so much fun and all that led up to it was so very worth it. Again, I’m beyond honored and can’t wait for you to see it. ”

sticker-1-2011The hardest questions for all horror fans but I have to ask it: which is your favourite horror film?
Yes of course that’s always too hard to name just one. ‘Satanic Rites of Dracula’, ‘The Devil Rides Out’, ‘The Omen’, ‘Rosemary’s Baby’, ‘The Wickerman’, ‘The Howling’, all Romero, ‘Werewolves on Wheels’, ‘Phantasm’, ‘Warlock’, ‘Nightbreed’, ‘Ninth Gate’. I think the ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ remake was awesome. I really liked ‘Dog Soldiers’, ‘The Troll Hunter’. I have a big love for Coppola’s ‘Dracula’ film. 80’s classics like ‘Fright Night’, ‘Friday the 13th’, etc. My favorite Clive Barker film is ‘Lord Of Illusions’. I like it better than ‘Hellraiser’ which surprises people but it’s true. I would like to see more great werewolf, vampire and creature films being made. I did not expect to like the ‘Walking Dead’ television series but I love it. In recent years, ‘Conjuring’, ‘Sinister’, ‘Insidious’ and ‘Lords of Salem’ all were interesting. I’m a big fan of the Hammer films and sixties, seventies films. Thanks for the interview Kate and hope this finds you well and happy in all ways. Continue into the great unknown where music and magic await you.”