If you've got a fascination for things that go bump in the night, Jason Hawes and his team of paranormal investigators, TAPS (The Atlantic Paranormal Society) have a TV series up your alley: Ghost Hunters, celebrating its 10th anniversary on Syfy.
The TAPS team travels the U.S. to its most haunted and eerie locations, investigating reports of paranormal activity at the request of clients in need of assistance. They bring along the tools of their trade — infrared and thermal imaging cameras, EMF detectors, ambient thermometers, seismographs, laser grids, DVR systems, audio recorders, and shadow detectors — at no charge — to locate the entity causing the problem.
"Our investigations are free because the rich, the poor, everybody has problems," says Hawes, whose day job is as a plumber for Roto-Rooter. "If we charged money, we'd only be able to help those who can afford our services, which, I think, is ridiculous. Plumbing is my way of life. That's my job. But the paranormal has long been a passion. It's great being able to do the show because I can kind of mix the two, job and passion."
More often than not, Hawes, who has been investigating paranormal activity for 25 years following a personal experience that set him in search of answers, can debunk the supernatural claims. But there are cases where he insists that something otherworldly is going on, and that's where it gets interesting.
In this exclusive interview for Bio, the Ghost Hunter talks more about why he does it, what we can expect to see in Season 10, what spooks him, and the new app that can turn anyone into a paranormal investigator.
You're celebrating your tenth anniversary. Can you talk a little bit about how the show has changed over its ten-year history?
To be honest with you, the cast of the show has changed but the premise of the show really hasn't. Of course, Steve Gonsalves is still with me. He's been with me actually longer than anybody.
But the nice thing about the show is Syfy and Pilgrim Studios have always kept their distance, kept their noses out of it, let us do our investigation and allowed us to keep it real. There's been so many shows that have come on since we came out and have gone away because they were unable to do that. The nice thing about our show is it's about a group of people, who existed long before a show, doing what we do, instead of being cast by a production company like most of the shows today are.
After ten years, are you running out of haunted places?
Honestly, no, we're nowhere near running out of so-called haunted locations. The website last year received 92 million hits. So on an average day, we can get 1,000 different case requests of places that claim to have activity. The case load is endless. Then, there's a whole TAPS home team that investigates cases every weekend off the show, as well. I don't think we'll ever run out of cases when it comes down to that.
What's the spookiest place you've ever been? And why was it the spookiest?
Well, the spookiest thing has nothing to do with the paranormal. I have to be honest, the spookiest thing is usually some of the homeowners we have to deal with. When you go to somebody's house, you never know who or what condition the person is on the other side of that door. It could be a very nice person, truly legit, having problems and seeking assistance.
Or it could be somebody with an overactive imagination, under medicated, over medicated, or self medicated. We've dealt with cases where people hear voices, and you find out later on that they're dealing with the beginning stages of schizophrenia. We've dealt with cases where people have mixed prescriptions that they're on and created hallucinogens. You truly never know what you're walking into.
We had one case a couple years ago, we showed up, walked in and had to leave really quick because the homeowner had a loaded shotgun behind her door and a loaded .357 under her bedroom pillow. She was on a list of prescriptions that, my God, there had to be 20 different prescriptions there. She needed help that had nothing to do with the paranormal. You've always got to be prepared. The living can cause you serious harm or death, not really the paranormal.
So what can we expect to see in Season 10?
We've got some incredible locations. The first episode will start off at Wild Turkey Distillery in Kentucky. It was a family-owned distillery that had been passed down generation after generation. There have been claims out there forever, but some of the family members have been claiming that they were seeing deceased family members walking through the halls, calling their names, and doing odd things like that. We were able to disprove some things. We were also able to back up and solidify some of their claims with some great evidence.
The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park called us. They were talking about aberrations. It used to be an old Jesuit monastery where bodies were buried under the place. Now, it's the Culinary Institute of America.
It just goes on and on. It's insane the amount of stuff we've caught this year. It's been great because we partnered with FLIR Thermal Imaging and they've set us up with a bunch of equipment that they wanted to field test before they put it out to market for people to buy. The nice thing is it's thermal imaging that you use on your smartphone. Any person out there can now afford to become an investigator, which I think is great, because you're able to get audio, you're able to get thermal footage, and so forth.
When you're not doing Ghost Hunters, you're still plumbing?
I still work for Roto-Rooter. It's a recession-free industry. We're never going back to the outhouse. I love plumbing because I can design, create and build something. When I'm not doing that, I'm out on my boat fishing or at the shooting range shooting. We take the kids camping, go hiking all the time. I keep myself busy.
Obviously, you believe in ghosts. What can you say to non-believers to convince them? Or do you not even care to try?
I believe in ghosts, but I believe over 80 percent of all claims can be disproved. Now, that leaves 20 percent of claims. We're not going to say that 20 percent are ghosts. It falls under what we call paranormal.
I deal a lot with non-believers and so forth. I'm a skeptic myself. The main thing is the good skeptics I love dealing with because they work right with me and we try to figure it out. It's the ones who are so closed-minded who you can't deal with.
Why still do it? What do you get out of it?
What I get out of it is just the fact of being able to solve a problem, or being able to help out the person who needs it the most, whether it's paranormal or psychological. As long as we're able to help, it's a great feeling, it really is.
'Ghost Hunters' premieres its 10th season on Wednesday, August 26 at 9/8c on Syfy.