Ghost Hunters, Syfy’s longest-running unscripted series, continues its eighth season with 14 all-new episodes, beginning tonight at 9/8c. In support of that premiere, Jason Hawes, Lead Investigator and founder of The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), was recently on hand to answer press questions.
He started out the conference call telling the group that the upcoming second half of the season includes some of the TAPS team’s best cases to date “and some of the best evidence that we’ve caught recently. I honestly believe it’s probably going to be one of the best seasons ever.”
This will be the first TAPS half-season without co-founder Grant Wilson, but Hawes reported that it wasn’t tough to do the investigations without him, “because I still deal with Grant daily on other things and he’s still there. He had to take a leave of absence from the show but our families are extremely tight and we’re like brothers…
And, for many years I investigated without Grant being there, you know, for many years of our friendship – Grant and while TAPS was still going, of course – still is – Grant left to go to Utah. He was gone for a couple years on that. So of course it’s a little odd not having a guy I refer to as my brother standing beside me all the time. But, you know, I think it wasn’t an issue for me at all. And to be honest with you, the team, there’s just a new energy with the entire team. Everybody’s just so alive lately and yes, it’s been interesting.
Hawes outlined a few of the more “wild” investigations, which include a zoo, a town, and a prison that housed and executed a woman who may have been the first female serial killer. The prison is on tonight’s midseason premiere, and as he pointed out, “some people who actually are on production ended up having a situation. I can’t get in too many details but it led to a really interesting investigation.” Wait until you see…
He talked a bit about the evolution of the show over the years:
I didn’t think we were going to make it out of first season, so the fact that we’re at 8.5 is incredible. To see that this field has come so far that – a field that used to be laughed about and people felt that they had to whisper experiences that they were having, now they feel that they can openly discuss it, that’s just incredible.
It’s such a great feeling to know that we were a part of that movement to try to really get this field ahead. And also the amount of new people – new investigators – who have been stepping into the field just really shows that it’s advancing, and it’s becoming a respected area. So that does mean everything to us.
It was interesting to learn that, in searching for a new team member, one of the criteria was scepticism:
Well, of course, when we’re looking for somebody new we want somebody who is not going to automatically believe that everything is a ghost or paranormal. We want somebody who’s willing to try to go that extra mile to figure out what might be truly creating the activity, whether it’s electrical issues, plumbing, anything, over medicated, under medicated individuals.
But also beyond that, I need somebody who can mesh with the rest of the TAPS team because the main thing is we’re a big family. Steve’s been with me for 20 plus years. Dave’s been with us for years. Amy has been a friend for, you know, almost 10 years now, same with Britt. So – and K. J. was my nextdoor neighbor as a kid growing up.
So, we all get together. We all spend so much time, you know, doing this show but also hanging out outside the show that I just needed somebody who was going to fit in and be able to work well with the group. And that the group was going to be able to accept as a whole because bottom line, they’re the ones who make the decision if somebody stays or if somebody goes.
This season has the team investigating some different types of hauntings, and Hawes talked a bit about how that changes the techniques used:
When you’re looking for a typical ghost, if there is something actually there, an intelligent type haunt, you’re able to make contact with it, you’re able to get these things to communicate back and forth with you. When you’re dealing with what some believe to be an “elemental” type of activity you’re dealing with something that is purposely trying to avoid you but create fear in order to make you leave an area, to sort of push you out of these highly wooded areas that we’ve now encroached into.
So, yes, now you’re trying to actually document something that you’re spending all this time trying to hide out in. Yes, it’s a total different style of investigation. Also being outside and investigating cabins and stuff into all these areas, you’re dealing with animals, you’re dealing with insects and a lot of other contamination issues that come into play.
I think that’s really what fuels me and just trying to understand how these things are possibly because there appears to be so many different types of haunts. Over the years we’ve found that you can have intelligent type haunts, you could have residually, you could have poltergeist type haunts. But also, you can have intelligent type haunts that aren’t like everything that we’ve ever thought about these ghosts communicating back and forth. Now, for whatever reason, some of these intelligent type haunts are spirits that are still stuck in their time, they’re still living a normal day in their life.
Well, how is that possible? How is it possible to have time that seems to be folding on itself and if so does that now lead into maybe that’s what a psychic or sensitive is? Somebody who’s still in their time but they are able to hear voices as these things are able to hear us? So, it’s just – it’s so interesting and there’s so many different layers that that’s just what keeps us going.
We’ll also be seeing some new technology in the upcoming episodes. Hawes revealed that he’s working with a company right now on an app that will “be able to take any Android and iPhones and iPads and all that stuff and be able to work off of meters that are built into them. And can’t get into too much detail on it but I was actually just using a prototype of it the other day.”
But there’s also a lot of equipment out there that becomes rather laughable that I’ve seen that I guess other people have brought into this field where, you know, these boxes that are generating voices, well the voices are words that are actually put in or programmed into these devices. So, you know, there’s a lot of things out there that I think are holding the field back and there’s a lot of technology out there dealing with infrasound and stuff like that that we’re really trying to bring to the forefront. So I think you’ll be able to see a lot of newer stuff coming out from us and to other areas.
Sorry, fans of the Halloween show, Hawes won’t be doing a live one this year. “It’s just – my twin sons are eight now, I spent a lot of these Halloweens away from them and I want to spend time with the family on that day. We’ve always loved that holiday and one thing I can’t stand is getting picture texts to feel like I’m there, so I’m staying home with them this year. I’m going to celebrate it with them and go from there.”
On a happier note for fans, Hawes’ rescued part-Australian cattle dog Maddie will be along for some of the investigations. “I try to keep her somewhat to more local type cases just because the amount of travel. I don’t want her sitting in the back seat of a car for two – three days while we’re driving out to these locations; it just takes a toll on her. So, but you will definitely see her on these cases.”
Hawes spent a little time outlining the criteria used when choosing which case to take on:
Well, the TAPS website last year alone received 96 million hits. We receive about a thousand to 1,500 emails a day with possible case requests. Honestly, out of those it’s going to fall under are the people terrified. If they are, what type of activity’s going on? Are there children involved because if there’s a child involved that jumps to the front of the list because I’m a father and the least thing I would want is for my children to be fearful, in their own home to feel threatened.
So, those are the main factors that will bring us to an area. It’s going to jump right to the front. But, also with residential cases, a lot of those cases either we do not – with absolutely no cameras there because the people don’t want to be on camera or we just – we need to be cautious with a lot of those because sometimes those don’t air. There’s a lot of cases we do that never make air. So yes, anytime there’s a family and children and activity that is active at that point, we’ll get there ASAP.
And in case you were wondering, yes, he really does still do plumbing work. “As for plumbing, yes – when I’m not full swing production, I go back to the norm. You know, I’ll go and I’ll price out jobs for Roto, still employed by them. They’ve been a great company but also the understand that they’re getting advertising while I’m on the road, so, you know, we scratch each other’s backs on that end. They’ve always been a great company.”
Hawes was asked what he loves and hates about the job:
I love about my job is definitely problem solving, figuring out what’s truly going on, the people that I’m able to meet and interact with. And sometimes that can be the stuff that you really don’t love about your job because you never know whose house you’re walking to.
Just like, I’m a plumber for Roto Rooter and I’ve walked through people’s homes where you just know you have to get out, that they’re not all there. It happens in this field as well where we had a case a couple years back where we walked into a house and come to find out, this person had loaded weapons all through their house. It becomes a safety issues, you need to get out, you need to get away.
So, I think meeting new people, interacting, trying to figure out what their problems are, being a problem solver is one of the most interesting things. But also not knowing who you’re about to walk – whose home you’re about to walk into and who you’re about to deal with can be a pretty scary part as well.
But I must admit, this was my favorite exchange, with sheknows.com, who asked:
Just real quick, I need your expertise. I’m getting ready to buy a house, so how can I tell if it’s haunted without actually spending the night there?
Jason Hawes: Well, thing is, you could buy a house and not know that there’s something going on there for years. So there’s really no way to know. Over 80% of all claims can be disproved, so chances are you’re buying a house that doesn’t have anything going on.
Ghost Hunters Season 8.5, starring Jason Hawes, premieres tonight at 9/8c on Syfy.