With Season Six of Travel Channel’s popular series “Ghost Adventures” on the horizon, we sat down with frontman Zak Bagans for a very candid and personal interview. We covered a wide range of subjects, and here’s Part One, which is devoted to what fans can expect from the new season.
As a certified paranormal buff, I like many of you take in every single show about ghosts that I possibly can, and Travel Channel’s “Ghost Adventures” has always stood out, if only for its unconventionality. Here were three brash investigators doing things their own way for better or worse. No matter what you believe, it’s hard to argue that it’s anything less than both compelling and entertaining.
As is this interview… The paranormal has long been a hot button issue amongst the masses so we decided to open things up with Zak’s views on investigations and their true meanings.
“What any paranormal investigators have to understand is, this isn’t just about going somewhere, waiting until dark, then lugging around equipment to take readings while trying to find ghosts,” says Bagans from his hometown Las Vegas, Nevada. “History has everything to do with it. You are trying to communicate with a product of what happened in the past, and that product is a human being. To know more about this human being, you have to work like a homicide detective. Like them, in order to obtain your evidence, you have to find witnesses, any eyewitnesses that have experienced this evidence. You have to work with them to trace the footsteps of those you’re trying to contact, who are now deceased. You need to learn about them. You need to learn about the history and everything pertaining to it. That’s all detective work. When you go in and try to communicate with these spirits, you can get better answers by knowing the history that they went through.”
“When you’re interviewing these people who are helping you with your investigation, a lot of the time you’re helping them,” Bagans continues. “Like the weatherman we interviewed in Illinois at the Ashmore Estates (Season 5: Episode 1), who was a complete skeptic. He experienced something that he was unable to figure out. When you experience something like that – a demonic type attack or anything with a spirit for that matter – they can cling on to certain people. When they do that, in his case they harmed him. Like the two women at the Villisca Axe Murder House (Season 4: Episode 13) who were absolutely in tears… So many people think that the paranormal world is so one-sided. It’s not about just going into a building and looking for seashells. These aren’t objects. These are souls. This is what makes our bodies function, and when you go and communicate with these souls and they communicate back to you, there’s gonna be a lot of skepticism, there’s gonna be a lot of controversy because a lot of people don’t believe in it and that’s a very mysterious thing. The people that we interview, we’re helping them, too. It’s a show about helping the living and trying to find them closure. Just a simple conversation with them can help them, Ya know? ‘I know what you’re going through.’ Just listening to them. It makes all the difference.”
From there we segued into the upcoming season, how it’s growing from their first, and what viewers can expect once the episodes begin airing.
“We’ve been using this new device a lot, the SB7 Spirit Box,” says Bagans. “Everything pertaining to the paranormal can be perceived by all different parts of the population as either bullshit or faked or rigged, or they believe in it. That part I used to worry about in Season 1 and Season 2. But now I don’t worry about that anymore. I know what’s real. I know what has changed my life in this. And it gets emotional. It gets powerful. I have now experienced things with other people; we invite people in our lock-downs now. I don’t care who, we’ll invite anybody else in our lock-downs so that they can see this. So that they can witness this. And so the audience can kind of live through their skepticism through these third party people that we have invited. I don’t believe it’s my job to try and persuade skeptics that ghosts are real. It’s my job doing what I love to do and what my passion is. When you communicate with a spirit, it changes something inside of you. You know what I mean? It changes the way that you perceive life and everything and everything around you, and it starts getting really, really powerful. I’m a very different human being than I was ten years ago. Ghosts and spirits have severely changed my life both for the good and for the worse. In life there is good and evil, and on the other side I think those forces are even more prominent.”
Bagans continues, “The SB7 Spirit Box is something that I was really skeptical of. Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, ya know we were a little more amateurish. We were younger. We were still learning more about the paranormal. And with that we didn’t show viewers a lot of our debunking methods. What you have to realize is when you watch the show, there is one word we use a lot. That one word is ‘unexplained’. If you’re in complete darkness and you hear a loud bang right next to you, of course you’re gonna jump. You don’t know what the hell just made that noise. When this happens we’ll say something like ‘We just heard an unexplained noise.’ ‘We just heard an unexplained voice.’ We don’t always say ‘We just heard the voice of a spirit’ or ‘We just heard a noise that a ghost caused.’ We use the word ‘unexplained’ because when we’re in the dark, if we are unable to debunk it, we will present it to the audience as simply an unexplained noise. We’re really trying to clarify that.”
“Now with Season 6 you’re gonna notice a lot more of us showing you what we didn’t show you in the earlier seasons – the efforts that we use in debunking things. Earlier on in the seasons we just wanted to present you all the unexplained shit that we heard and saw and felt. We didn’t want to take our twenty-two minutes and add in that extra minute to show you how we debunked some of the stuff. So now we are stepping up and showing more of the debunking process and the extra efforts that are going in to do as such. Like when we investigated the Perryville Battlefield (Season 5: Episode 8), we heard the cannon blasts so we brought the guy who was there with us over, and we found out that Fort Knox is just ninety miles away. So we had him call Fort Knox the next day to try and debunk whether or not their artillery department didn’t make those cannon blasts. It’s stuff that we have always done; we just never really showed it. So the new season we are showing you more of that process as well.”
“It’s always such an adventure though, man,” Bagans says of the investigation process. “When we fuel up, we have Jeff Belanger, our researcher, giving us the lowdown on where we’re going. He sends us a two-page overview. We have two paragraphs on the location and like three people that we have to interview. That’s what we take with us when we go film ‘Ghost Adventures’. We don’t have any scripts. We don’t have anything rehearsed. I’m a documentary filmmaker. Nick and myself, we get out there and we just turn the cameras on whatever comes our way; you’re there with us. And that’s what’s so adventurous, that’s the real adventure part of ‘Ghost Adventures’.”
“Getting back to that Spirit Box I was telling you about. I was really skeptical about it, and then we started really analyzing it further. When we start using the Spirit Box now, some of the things that we’re capturing is just amazing. Recently we have an episode coming up in Denver where we invited a friend of mine, Brendan Schaub from the UFC to come along. He lives in Denver, and we wanted him to witness what we do and help us out with the investigation. It was pretty crazy because when we did the interviews, this lady was telling us about a legend that in the Seventies a woman was raped and murdered by a construction crew and then buried under the dirt. We’ll present it as a legend, but ‘Ghost Adventures’ is not saying that this historical event occurred because there’s not enough evidence to support it. We actually called the police department looking for files on this case before we deduced that some tour company was just trying to make a building haunted by making up friggin’ stories. I hate that. So we tried finding evidence to support whether or not this legend happened and there was no evidence to support it. That doesn’t mean that it didn’t happen though. So we went down there with the Spirit Box and had Brendan there; we turned it on, but nothing was coming through. Sometimes we’ll just let it sit there ten or fifteen minutes hearing nothing but white noise. But then we’ll ask a question and we’ll get a response. And that’s what made me a believer.”
“So we go down in there and start asking some questions, and we get this guy who identifies himself as Pete coming through. So I ask ‘Pete, can you tell me what happened to a girl down here?’ Let’s just say that the answers this disembodied voice gave us were beyond eerie. The communication just kept going and going and going, and Brendan got scared. I ask, ‘Can you tell me the name of the guy who just got scared?’ and Class A I hear a voice say ‘Brendan!’ It was the most amazing and one of the most compelling sessions ever. We contacted the police department and they watched our video. They were baffled beyond belief, too. They opened up a cold case investigation because of it, and now they might be digging up a body using some body locating device. It’s pretty crazy.”
When asked if there were any stand-out locations from the upcoming season, without hesitation Zak answered, “The Shanghai Tunnels. It was huge underneath there. There’s like these catacombs, and there are these layers and layers and layers. Everyone investigates the paranormal in a different way. You know you got the guys from TAPS, etc., everybody is different. One thing that ‘Ghost Adventures’ never does is we don’t bash on people. We don’t bash on other TV shows, other shit. They may do that but we don’t care. We respect everybody and how they do things. But you gotta remember that because everyone is so different, everybody is going to get different interactions with spirits.”
“The Shanghai Tunnels was really interesting because it was all about human trafficking. Down in there back in the 1800’s they would have these wooden doors underneath bars and saloons. Then these workers, these laborers that would travel through Portland to get up to Alaska to the gold rush, they would stop in there, Then they would get drunk and then drugged by these hot chicks. They would be lured over to a corner of the bar and then they would just fall into a trap door and be hauled away on these ships to be slaves. Prostitution was rampant down there, too, so before we went under, we contacted the sex crimes unit in Portland because Portland is still the number one worst problem area for human trafficking in the United States. It’s like that energy from the Shanghai Tunnels has now resurrected out of the ground and is now hosting the living to carry out the human trafficking where it was pretty much born. We rode around with the human trafficking task force in police cars just to get a taste of the energy. The modern day pimps, they are the past Shanghai-ers, there is no difference. We were even present during some arrests. Again, it was just for us to get a taste of that energy. We like feeling the energy … the hostility, what that aggression was like. That negative energy has not been destroyed. It’s still hosting people to this day. We always say investigating the paranormal for us is like time traveling. So we like to feel that before we go back in time and try to communicate with those spirits. It’s like getting in the DeLorean with Doc and Marty and going back to 1888. Some people, they can go to a historic town, they can walk around, they can buy a little snow globe and postcard and get their wooden gun because they want to feel it. That’s the closest that they can get to feeling the history. That, and watching movies of the Wild West. But the ‘Ghost Adventures’ crew, we go there and we communicate with the people; when we do our lock-down, IF we can communicate with the spirits, we get put in this bubble. And when we start communicating with them and we feel their energy, this, like, bubble kind of goes around us and it’s like time just stops. You can feel them, you can taste things, you can communicate with them, and it’s very much like traveling back in time. And there’s no other rush like that, ever. It’s just awesome.”
“Another one that we’re going to be doing is … this is a first for us … Gary Galka is the inventor of the Mel-Meter and some other devices that we use. Including the SB7 Spirit Box. He created the Mel-Meter and he named it after his daughter, Melissa. Melissa recently died in a car accident just a few minutes from his house. Gary is a very, very talented electrical engineer and he’s helped companies, massive companies, in that aspect in order to do things better. After his daughter died, he, his family, and his son-in-law have all seen Melissa and felt her at the house. This caused him to develop equipment for the paranormal. With his devices he’s captured voices of her. His family, even people that aren’t related to him, have seen her at the house. It’s quite amazing. Next week we are filming at his house. Melissa’s birthday is on February 14th, on Valentine’s Day. Every Valentine’s Day they have a birthday celebration for her with just family because that is when they communicate with her. I have heard some of the EVPs, and they’re amazing. It took me about three months to try and convince Gary to let us go there and investigate. He’s had to have a lot of meetings with his wife and his family about doing this as an episode, and they finally agreed a couple weeks ago. So we’re going to go there and be welcomed into his house and try and do an investigation and eyewitness this communication with his daughter. So it’s going to be probably the most emotional investigation that we have ever done. We’re covering a lot of emotional investigations, and we’re gaining the attention of police forces. The communication aspect of the spirit is getting absolutely amazing. We’re investigating some towns that are trippin’ us out more than the ghosts like Tempe, Arizona. So there’s a lot of cool stuff coming on Season 6.”
Look for Part 2 of our interview in the coming days. In it we’ll be discussing the most infamous and frightening place the “Ghost Adventures” crew have ever covered: Bobby Mackey’s. Then in Part 3 Zak will be talking about upcoming projects and, YES, answering some fan questions we got from Twitter. Stay tuned.
For more info be sure to visit “Ghost Adventures” on Travel Channel. “Ghost Adventures” Season 6 premieres on March 9th, 2012.
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