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Interview: NYCC Goes ‘Ghost (Nation)’!

Image: Travel Channel

Paranormal pros Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves and Dave Tango reunite for Travel Channel’s new show, Ghost Nation! Get ready for all-new adventures as the former Ghost Hunters join with local investigators to explore the unexplained. Fan Fest News had the awesome opportunity to participate in an interview session with these three seasoned supernatural celebs during New York Comic Con this past weekend. Check it out…

Image: Linda Marie

Question 1 (abbreviated): How do you address skeptics?

Jason: Honestly, I think skeptics, believers, and everybody in between are going to be able to enjoy this show because where [in] our past we did more of a preliminary investigation, [in] this show you’re able to see it from start to finish, through the resolution. A lot of times, we still believe over 80% of all things can be disproved. You’re going to see on the show that yeah, we were able to have these great experiences and back them up with evidence, but we’re also able to figure out scientifically a lot of things that are going on that have nothing to do with the paranormal. So I think skeptics are going to be able to enjoy this just as much as believers.

Steve: We are skeptical investigators for sure. I mean, I’m not a skeptic; because I have no agenda, I don’t care if you believe or not. I’m just after the truth, but we definitely believe 80% of all hauntings can be disproved, 80% of all activity can be disproved. So, it’s a pretty skeptical outlook on things, and I think people should be skeptical of what we’re doing. Can we just put it in front of you and say “look at this” and you believe it? I mean, I feel like you should see it for yourself. Come along with us for the adventure and mystery and fun, but I’m not too afraid of skeptics.

Dave: A lot of research, a lot of twists and turns in the show, and you’re going to be learning a lot with us. It’s quite the ride.

Question 2 (abbreviated):  How do you decide which cases to investigate?

Jason: That’s a great question because, just through our website, we get up to a thousand cases a day just from having received millions and millions of visitors every year. So, the cases we get are actually being brought to us by a network of other investigators that we’ve dealt with through the years. And you’re going to notice that every single case we go to is a case that this group has been investigating, and they’ve hit a roadblock, and they’re part of our network, and every case is also a residential case; a family. There’s no reason for us to go spend time at a big, haunted building in the middle of nowhere if we’re not helping out anybody.

So, we’re back to basics. We’re getting in there we’re helping out families, especially with children, if there’s children involved that jumps to the front of the list. I mean, even on the first episode you’re going to see we end up at a house in White Pine, Tennessee where a veteran who’s dealing with PTSD and his family are sleeping in a Winnebago out in the yard because they’re scared of the things that are going on in the house. And by the time we’re done, and we stay there as long as need be, but by the time we’re done, there’s been a resolution. They’re back in their house, they’re happy and we’re still in contact with them to this day.

Dave:  And they still email us, their PS4 names too. We’re playing video games with them too. It’s awesome.

Question 3 (Linda): I feel like interest in paranormal is ever-expanding and there are a lot of new shows popping up. What sets Ghost Nation apart from the other shows?

Steve: I think for our show, Ghost Nation, a lot of these teams…we have resources that maybe they’re not quite able to get. For instance, if we have a question we could call a physicist, we can call the clergy, we can call all these places, we can do the deep dives into the research and the history, and all of that. And where these other teams, they hit some roadblocks. And we’ve accumulated some knowledge in terms of techniques and we have a lot of equipment, new equipment, that they may not have or even know exists; we’ve got equipment made for us and that sort of thing. So, going around helping all of these teams, and helping the families that they’re dealing with. You know, other shows they’ll all have their own techniques, they’ll have everything they can bring.

Jason:  And I think you also got to look at the history, we’ve been involved in the field. You can look back 25/30 years, we’ve been involved in the field, and we were involved in the field long before television, we were involved in…We’ll be involved in field long after television.

“We’re not just out there making a show, this is what we’ve always done. And it’s all about keeping it real and looking for the real explanation of what goes on.”

And I think that also goes to show why we’ve had Pentagon clearance for government cases, we were called in by law enforcement, we’re brought in by religious organizations. So, I think it goes to show that for whatever reason, through the way we’ve done things, people they’ve learned to respect our methods out there and I think that sets us very, very far apart from a lot [of the others].

Steve: But also we didn’t answer a casting call. We weren’t cast together to “a group of investigators needed for a new TV show”, we went as a family, as a team, and met with networks.

Jason: …after taking a few years off, because we were burned. After 12 years, we just had to take a break for a little while. So…

Question 4: What was the supernatural experience that you first had that inspired you to pursue this as a career?

Jason: I had my own personal experience, I just keep to myself.

Steve: You’ll never get it out of him.

Dave: We’ve tried, we’ve tried.

Jason: But honestly, I was about 18/19 and it took somebody who never even thought about the paranormal, I didn’t even care about it, and sort of thrusted me into the field. But then, when I got into the field everybody was claiming that dust or bugs or orbs and these spirits and they can be recreated by slapping a pillow and taking a picture in the dark. So, I think that drove me crazy. So from there it was just trying, I’ve always been a hands-on guy, as well as Steve and so forth. From there, it’s always just been, it was one of those things where I wanted to find out the truth my own way. I didn’t want to take somebody’s word for it, and I want to figure it out myself.

Dave: For me, I never had a personal experience to get me into the field. It was more of my father who is a police officer in Elizabeth, New Jersey and when we were kids, I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing, but he would come home and tell me my brother stories, true stories, things that would happen to him on the force and people he knew, other police officers. And growing up these stories you realize these are people with authority, these are people who can get in trouble if they keep talking about this kind of stuff, you can’t put this in a report. And that kind of peaked my curiosity, and that’s what led me here now.

Steve 3: I just personally had an interest, I saw a movie when I was young and got a little afraid of it. I started reading books by Loyd Auerbach and different investigators, William G. Roll. Then…around 20 years old, 21, went to Rhine Research Center and did an energy study with Dr. William G. Roll, and from there set me on that sort of analytical path, being a little more scientifically minded, and I think that’s what drew Jay to my team, cause he reached out and said “Hey we investigate sort of the same way, let’s join forces”, and we did, and that was back in the 90’s.

Jason: Which makes us old. But I think, just to go back to the question, “What makes this Ghost Nation so different?” Also is it’s not a show about just us three. It’s about everybody who’s involved in paranormal; whether it’s investigators, whether it’s people who are just intrigued by it, whether it’s people who want to sit at home and from the safety of their home be an armchair investigator.

“I think everybody who’s involved in this field or interested in this field is a part of what makes up this nation of the paranormal. So, Ghost Nation is pretty much about everybody.”

Steve: Even if you’re not that into the paranormal, honestly, I mean the way that our episodes unfold is very true to life how it happened. We go do the research and find this name, someone who actually died in the house, so we pursue that. We decide we want to have cadaver dogs and ground-penetrating radar come in because we found out there could be a bone in the yard, we’re going to do that, and we did, and every single day there were new things, it was like a mystery man. It was really, really awesome. Until Ghost Nation, we weren’t able to really dig into the history and dig into the land as deeply as we did.

“This wasn’t a show where we were out to get the best piece of evidence, it wasn’t the chase for the evidence because we want people to believe, it was helping families.”

But through that, we got some of the best evidence that we’ve ever captured and some of the best experiences we’ve ever had.

Jason: Well, and also just the fact that they’re literally following us from when we start to when we finish, through everything. Where it’d be edited, be cut down, to whatever they wanted to air they thought was the best parts. You’re able to see really how it goes… really how we’ve always investigated, how we really investigate off camera. Now you’re able to see it on camera.

Dave: The whole process.

Question 5: Are you going to have any guests coming onto this show?

Jason: Well, not right yet. I mean, the guests we’ve got, of course, all the people calling us in and stuff…

Steve: All the local teams…

Jason: We have had friends, you know, Meatloaf has asked if he can come and hang out and be a part of it so we’ll see, we’ll see in the future. But that’s not really what it’s been about right now. It’s just been about just getting out there and doing these cases.

Steve: I think since our focus really has been helping family and getting them a resolution, helping these families if a guest made sense for the investigation and it would help them benefit? Oh for sure. Absolutely, and Meatloaf is actually a pretty dang good investigator. He probably would be an asset…

Jason: But the problem is after we get to these people’s homes, we a lot of times remove them for upwards of a week from their home. If we got Meatloaf, they’re not gonna want to leave their home, they’re gonna want to hang out, and that’s going to be a problem.

Question 6: So you guys took some time off from your show, and now you’re doing this, was it difficult to back into the swing of things in front of the camera? Have you been practicing?

Jay: No honestly. Well, you’ve known us for a long time, you know that I don’t care if the camera’s there or not, we just do what we do. I say what I say. We don’t think about that. So I think it was pretty much just… we just again started doing what we did, right? And you know if the camera guy doesn’t catch it it’s his own problem; he can explain it to them why he didn’t, we’re just out there investigating. And we’ve investigated off camera, I mean we’d investigated long before television, off-camera, and even when we took that break we’re still investigating so…

Steve: We did. We had other projects in front of the camera as well, so we didn’t get so rusty. Jay did a five-episode live series with Jack Osborne who has a show on the Travel Channel. I got into the documentary world and Tango… We stayed in front of the camera a little bit but we knew for a series we wanted to make sure we were all together.

“We fought off other TV show offers especially Jay obviously, just to make sure that we could all sort of be together at the other end of it.”

And luckily, you know, Travel Channel was the right platform. We want to showcase what you guys are doing and honestly all the other shows that have really embraced us, which is important. We’re getting hugs from people “welcome to the family” and that was…

Dave: Travel Channel are big huggers, for sure. As soon as we met them we started hugging.

Steve: It’s true, there’s a few of them here.

Dave: Yeah. You’ll see us hugging each other.

Question 7 (abbreviated):  Do you experience common patterns on investigations?

Steve: I know a pattern is a lady in white, she’s everywhere. Honestly, every place we go there’s a lady in white, and I started putting some thought into that as to why. Then I realize, you know back in the day they really were about three colors. There was white, or off-white, there was black and then a blueberry color. They would make by mixing buttermilk and blueberries and they would get the dress that color so it could make sense that she’s around, but technical patterns we can try to isolate frequencies and voices of traveling. We’ve recognized some patterns in energy and how it correlates with the physical environment.

Jason: We’re actually dealing with infrasound, now we’re working where we’re able to try to figure out what frequencies these voices that we’re catching are coming in and then ask questions on those same frequencies. So there’s a lot of different things that we’ve been working on. We’ve been working with different electrical engineers and other developers on types of equipment that haven’t been out there. And also just the fact that how far equipment has come over the last five, six, seven, eight years, it’s been amazing.

Steve: Absolutely. And even just as a team, the ability, you know, we’re not just saying things can happen or looking after for things like if you tell us that, you know, this stone reservoir here, this rock quarry is holding energy, we’re going to call a physicist and find out is that true? Can that happen? And we did find out that that is possible, which is pretty dang awesome. But you know, we use all that information we’ve gathered over the years on Ghost Nation to help our investigation but also in the history. You know, if the family thinks…We’ve actually tried to help by what we do investigating, but sometimes it has nothing to do with the paranormal. A woman was afraid of being in her living room there because she thought that somebody had died there and through the research we find that they, in fact, died miles away, almost 80 miles away in a hospital. So she knows nobody died there, she’s not afraid to be in her house anymore so…

Jason: Well think about it, if you’ve been told through the whole time you’ve owned this house that somebody fell and laid there for four hours and slowly died because nobody came to their rescue, It’s going to be a heavy feeling when you’re sitting in that room. When we go and we document and pull up the actual research and none of this is accurate, bring it to you and show you it’s such a weight off their shoulders. You can see they’re just like, alright, I can be in this room again because they’ve always felt that negativity in there. So yeah, just getting the true information I think is key for any investigation.

Steve: Yeah, that’s interesting. And she would say she always would fall down the stairs and she thought somebody was tripping her. It Was just three stairs and then when she finds out that nobody actually died there she hasn’t tripped or fell down the stairs since then. So, there’s a psychology behind it, you know, almost an osmosis. You think someone died there and you thought that the whole time left the house and tripped down the stairs, you just assume it’s the ghost.

Dave: And she thought that the woman fell down the stairs and died that way.

Question 8 (abbreviated): You guys travel a lot. Do you have any advice for anyone traveling who might think they’re in a paranormal situation?

Jason: I’ve never really had anything follow me…like back to the hotel you’re saying? It’s like, no, I’ve never, I would love someone to follow me, follow me home. I mean I could investigate from my couch (laughter) wouldn’t have to go anywhere (laughter). Honestly, I haven’t had that happen to me. I know some people out there claim it does, to each their own, but…

Dave: We’ve been to supposedly haunted hotels and investigated hotels and gotten a few things here and there. But as far as traveling, I never had anything. I mean, when I go to bed, I’m in bed, you know, so…

Jason: I mean really, what the hell wants to hang out with Dave after (laughter). Pretty boring (laughter).

Steve: If they really do think something is happening, they’re feeling uneasy… They could just rip out their phone, you know, like just set it on record. Maybe even the video camera to see what they can find. Just put your phone on airplane mode, or whatever it is.

Question 9: With the new generation watching the show if someone wanted to get into that field, what would you recommend for them?

Jason: I would recommend, first off, they could go to our websites, they could find local groups all over the world that they can network with, and they can actually connect and go and start investigating with a group. That way they can learn from people who’ve been doing it for a long period of time.

“I think a big problem out there is, especially in this day and age, all these people who just instantly become paranormal investigators or demonologists, and create a group because they think the next thing they’re going to do is be on television and they get in these cases that are way over their heads.”

And it creates a problem, for them and for the homeowners, whoever they’re going to help out because people are relying on them as experts; even though there are no experts in a field that you scientifically can’t even prove exist. So I recommend them connecting with a group in their local area, getting out spending some time with that group, learning about the field. They don’t have to take that their methods to heart. I mean, you know, design your own methods, your own theories, but at least be with people who’ve been doing it for a long period of time.

Steve: My advice would be knowing the equipment and how energy interacts with the environment is quite valuable. For instance, if you’re going to use the laser grid, you need to know that it stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation because you learn a lot just by knowing what it says. And aside from that, if you see it or claim you see it or it happens in front of you, just make sure that they is the laws of science. If it doesn’t obey the laws of science and physics and energy, most likely you’re misinterpreting what you’re seeing or it’s telephonic or audio phonic, in your head, or someone’s lying. So just keep that in mind moving forward as investigators.

Dave:

“Don’t believe everything’s a ghost. I mean, try to research, try to figure out what it is, problem solve.”

Everybody wants things to be haunted now, you know, which is fine, but really try to do your research, try to figure things out for yourself. Don’t think everything’s a ghost.

Jason: Well on that note he makes a good point, ‘para’ just means ‘beyond’, it’s the Latin word for beyond, so beyond the normal, I think. So paranormal can exist without a ghost in the haunting, but a ghost in the hauntings are part of the paranormal. So, it’s anything beyond what’s normal to us.

Question 9 (Follow-up): What about situations like Robert the Doll?

Jay: If I don’t see that thing getting up and walking around I’m not buying it (Laughter). This isn’t like a Chuckie movie (Laughter).

Steve: Most likely there’s nothing inside any doll on the planet.

Question 10: In all your guys years of experience with the paranormal, was there a specific case that stood out to you guys that was really frightening?

Steve: Ooh, that’s a great question.

Jason: Well, we’ve had some crazy cases…

Steve: On an upcoming episode where we had some really intense experiences on a case revolving around a civil war sword which was pretty awesome. I mean, they were putting shoes in the wall we found, to really ward off what they considered evil spirits back and they had all this stuff up at this civil war sword and some really intense phenomena happened, so much so, that I bought the sword, I had to have it, I put it home in my library and it’s there.

Jason: When it comes down to terrifying cases, I think one of the most terrifying cases we ever did was up in Maine where we had Jodi Picoult, New York times best selling author, with us hanging out and we got stuck, this actually before the television show. We got stuck in this house for four days during a blizzard and the family was dealing with…even the church believed to be negative type activity, and it was a pretty rough, rough time.

But yeah, the paranormal can be creepy, it can be spooky. But honestly, I think the living are the most frightening thing you’ve got to deal with, and that’s serious. Cause you never know what’s on the other side of that door. You never know if that person is truly having a paranormal encounter, or having a medical condition, or right down to what we’ve dealt with where people have mixed prescription created hallucinogens. So you never know what’s going on. But no matter what you’re there to help those people.

Steve: We got crowbarred, chased by pans, we’ve had to take guns away from people. Yeah, and that has nothing to do with ghosts.

Jason: And that was 20 minutes after she invited us in, but she totally forgot. So you could see that the problems, I mean, I don’t think the dead is going to hurt me. I think the living will.

Dave: The craziest thing that ever happened to me in my entire life happened when we were filming Ghost Nation, and you’re going to see it. And it really happened, Steve was there. We got emotional, we both teared up, then we high-fived because we were excited. You’re going to see it, it took 15 years but it happened, finally.

Jason: Emotional roller coaster.

Dave:  It was an emotional roller coaster.

Question 11: How do you keep the show entertaining so people tune in?

Steve: Well, the investigation unfolds how it happens in real-time. And we do the proper research and we’re there for quite some time and, you know, although we try to disprove things, we actually came across, I may not say it, the best evidence we’ve ever come across, quite honestly.

‘We’ve captured some evidence that I think is the best that the field has ever captured.’

Jason: Well, I think beyond that as well, we’re also executive producers on the show. If we want it to follow how it really happened, we want it to follow that storyline, we want you to get to know the homeowners and the investigator that’s out there prior. We want you to be able to see the things we’ve caught, what we debunked. I was actually getting into the historical research of it all, and it’s bottom line. And I think also a lot of people just remember us as a team. So, that’s nice too because again we’re a big family. I mean, literally Steve was with me long before I was ever on television. He’s been with me the longest out of any of the investigators I’ve ever worked with. And Jeez, this guy is like a little brother to us.

Steve: I lived with him. He still has nightmares. (laughter)

Jay: I think people will tune in because…well the credibility that we’ve always had, the honesty and straightforwardness, and also because they remember who we are and how we’ve always done it. So I think that’s important. And that we’re still doing it as a team.

Steve: And being lucky to be executive producers on the show, we’re able to nuance it in a way that stays true to the story and the investigation. It’s not taken anywhere where it shouldn’t be, it’s not exaggerated, it’s not blown out of proportion. It’s exactly what it is. And, you know, Travel Channel’s been absolutely amazing in the respect that…If we’re not happy with something or we don’t think … It’s a phone call and it’s resolved. They’re very, very cool. And just want the platform to be as honest as it can be. And if we weren’t executive producers also it would kind of be like “well guys, here’s the show, I hope you’re happy with it, end of story”. But that’s how it would be. But we were able to really nuance it through our filter which has been important for us. And to be honest, it may not have been that way if we hadn’t waited a few years and really honed our skills in terms of the off-camera side of things.

Moderator: Last Question

Question 11 (Linda):  No pressure. (laughs) This is playing off an earlier question regarding new investigators trying to get into the field. Equipment aside, what qualities make for a good investigator?

Jason: First off common sense, if they don’t have common sense they shouldn’t even be involved in field. Because I think that’s the most important piece of equipment you can have. From there, you want somebody who’s not 100% a believer but not 100% skeptic. You want somebody who is willing to really try to look at both sides of that possibility that it most likely is not paranormal, but the possibilities there that it could be.

Steve: And don’t let yourself get pigeonholed into one specialty. You’ll find investigators like “I am an EVP expert, that’s all I do”, and they don’t know anything about anything else. But what about if something happens to you, how do you address it? You can’t just be running around looking for audio. A lot of the new investigators, they want to find this little specialty and say, “I’m the video guy”, I’m this guy, but you need to be well-rounded. I may be a Catholic or Christian, but I know just as much about every other religion, including the satanic religion, that you have to be well-rounded in all things, including the paranormal.

Dave: Bring a flashlight. (laughs)

Jay: Guys thank you all for taking the time. Y’all have a great day, enjoy the show.

Ghost Nation premieres Friday, October 11 at 10 pm ET/PT on Travel Channel.

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