One of the most crucial elements of paranormal investigator Zak Bagans' hit series Ghost Adventures (which kicked off its seventh season last month) is the study of Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP), in which Zak uses his patented SP7 “Spirit Box” to capture spirit voices from various locations throughout his travels... often with hair-raising results. For a prime example, check out this chilling excerpt, where the SP7 records a possibly evil force...
Since so much of Zak's research involves the intense study of sounds and voices (including recorded conversations between himself and unseen entities), it was only a matter of time before a musical experiment would emerge from this treasure trove of audio material. Zak had previously contributed to the single “Paranormal Energy,” recorded by post-industrial music pioneer Praga Khan, who included the track on the latest album Deep Chills by famed electro band Lords of Acid. Their meeting seemed like destiny fulfilled as each man had his own stories of unexplained phenomena, so they decided to join forces and tackle the issue head-on in a full-length concept album titled Necrofusion. I had a chance to talk to Zak during the shooting of a new Ghost Adventures episode, and we discussed the history of the project...
FEARnet: So Necrofusion is really kind of a first from a musical perspective, but not your first collaboration with Praga Khan. How did you two firstcome to work together?
ZAK: I was a big fan of Lords of Acid when I was in high school, and he really got me into the rave-house scene; he's a true pioneer in that genre. I started tweeting Lords of Acid a couple of years ago, and then one day I got a direct message from Praga's management, asking me if I wanted to work with Lords of Acid on a track, so we got on the the phone and talked about it. It turns out that when Praga was working on their new album Deep Chills, he started having experiences with the paranormal, some pretty heavy duty stuff. He was a big fan of Ghost Adventures, and he liked my voice, and asked me if I could record some vocals for this track “Paranormal Energy” that he wrote. So went to LA and recoded it with Chris Vrenna [Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson], and it was a really cool experience.
What brought you back together for this project?
Well, since then, we've just reached a new level right now in paranormal investigation when it comes to communication. With the evolution moving so fast in the digital age, we can barely keep up with it. I believe this same technology that we're using in our research is also taking us to a whole new age in the field of paranormal studies. Just as an example, last Friday's episode was our second highest-rated episode in seven seasons. I think that's partly because people are becoming aware that this isn't just a smoke-and-mirrors show. We're very analytical of our own stuff; we debunk the hell out of it. But one thing we can't argue with are these voice signals that are coming in on the SB7 Spirit Box that are overlaying 14 to 18 audio sweeps, and when you look at the wave-form, you can hear them coming through over those sweeps. Even through the interference you can hear these voices answering us. I just want to share these voices with everybody, and what better way to do that than with music? It's the most powerful way to send a message.
It seems to me that just music in itself can be a kind of spiritual communication.
It is! Even hearing just part of a song can bring back old memories, emotions, past loves... it's very powerful. So I thought blending these powerful audio messages I've recorded, over hundreds of recording sessions over the past year... each spirit voice, that story becomes the lyrics of a song. Then I would explain to Praga the emotions I felt during that interaction, and the energy felt from the spirit, where I was and what I was doing, and then together we would come up with a composition to set the tone and recreate that experience. That's the beauty of music: it has the ability to manipulate and change your emotions, and through that medium we were able to recapture the experience I had during those conversations, and recreate the emotional atmosphere of it, as well as provide a platform for the spirits to be heard, and maybe help them to be at rest.
Do you think that these recordings could serve as a form of communication between a spirit and someone listening to the album?
I do believe that, and in fact, for one of the songs “Room 20,” I believed that I was communicating with the spirit of David Strickland [the actor from Suddenly Susan who committed suicide in that hotel room], and I was asking him questions, and I got intelligent responses in a male voice. It was one of the most powerful sessions on the album, and during the preview of that track, somebody listened to it and they started crying, because it served as a kind of closure to them. I think that everyone listening to that album will have their own very personal emotional experience, and maybe even a connection with that spirit.
When I listened to that track, I expected it to sound spooky, but I was surprised to feel... it's hard to describe, but it was an uplifting feeling.
Yeah, it is kind of hard to describe, isn't it? I think it's going to be very unique to everyone who hears it. Some of these messages are also just my own feelings too. We live a very short life and we're forced to accept the inevitability of disease and death, and the passing of family members, and that's a scary thing. We all go through this, and these voices are a part of it. On the song “Dead Awaiting,” you'll hear the very first EVP that got us involved in the paranormal, and you'll hear the words “Thank you, but we've done it” captured on a digital recorder and that was a definite reference to us. That was my way of saying, “I don't care if you believe us... listen to them.” I want to be looked at as a new level of paranormal research, and not just another novelty.
Another key part of your show is how much effort goes in into questioning your observations, and not just taking them at face value.
That's right, and I've tried so may ways to dissect and debunk it myself... it's human nature, we question the meaning of everything, and we want to understand everything. Some people, when they encounter something so different, they tend to attack it, but I'm listening to it, even if it can't be understood, and I want to expose it. Right now we're filming an episode on Staten Island, and we've had ABC's Nightline crew here for three days; they want to follow us though every step of our investigation, analyze our equipment and everything. We're documenting what I'm seeing, hearing and witnessing, and I can't explain it myself. I need other experts to witness what I'm doing, and I want to give these voices an “Immortal Portal,” a way to be heard, which I think is doing a good thing for them, and for the living, so that they know that there is something beyond this body of skin and bones. It's such a mystery... and I love a good mystery.
UPDATE: Necrofusion is out now on iTunes and can be purchased at this link (you can also buy it directly from Zak's website, with is also a pretty damn cool place to explore), making it the perfect addition to your Halloween playlist. But be warned, this ain't no “Monster Mash.” You and your party guests may find themselves riveted to the speakers when these voices from beyond begin to whisper through the corridors of your house...