March 2003 - JPT SCARE BAND
The JPT SCARE BAND belongs to those legendary well-hidden under-underground bands from the early 70's, which never released any official album in this time, but thanks to Monster Records, who have discovered some old tapes of the JPT SCARE BAND and released them to all our pleasure. The music of the Scare Band was/is filled with loud and roaring guitar-jams, heaviest blues-laden power chords and a very jam-like atmosphere. To speak the truth, most of the old songs were jams. Much wilder and harder than the Blue Cheer ever performed their stuff. So, Rolf and Kendrik compiled some interesting questions and I've sent them over to drummer Jeff Littrell. Here's the final result, so check out the past and present of the re-activated JPT SCARE BAND.
Hi Jeff, how are you? What are you doing?
I'm doing great, living in Destin, Florida and enjoying life.
When you look back to the early days of the band, how were those days? When and where did you met Paul and Terry and when did you decided to form the band?
I have known Terry since we were both about 12 years old. We went all the way through public school together and then attended the same university. We both played in rock bands in high school, though not in the same band. We met Paul through friends at another school in the early university days. In 1973, Terry and I were playing in a country rock band, backing up a female singer named Carol Cruise.
The bass player quit and Paul joined the band. The three of us, along with another friend, Greg Gassman, moved into a big old house in Kansas City, Missouri which we called the Electric House on Manheim. Luckily for us, Greg was a recording engineer. At some point, we separated from Carol and became the JPT Scare Band. Our lives totally revolved around our music and Greg recorded a lot of the jams from the Electric House on Manheim and the Stone House on Crooked Road. Those days were full of music and fun, wild women and cosmic adventures.
Which bands have inspired you?
There were many influences and you can hear them when you listen to our 1970s recordings. Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Frank Zappa, Cream, Ozzy and Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Grateful Dead, Mountain, Steve Miller Band, Deep Purple, Jeff Beck, Steely Dan and lots of blues guys with the last name of King, like Albert King, BB King and Freddie King. Modern influences include jam bands such as Phish, Govt Mule and Widespread Panic.
With which bands have you shared the stage or done a tour?
The main focus of JPT has never been playing gigs or touring. We mostly did home recordings of jams among ourselves and our friends. We used to play concerts at Volker Park in Kansas City. Back in the 1970s, they had hippie love-ins at the park every Sunday and thousands of freaks would show up to party and listen to the music. In the late 70s, early 80s, we went out on the road in various versions of the band and in those lineups we opened for Budgie, Krokus, REO Speedwagon, Savoy Brown.
Do you have a close contact with other bands?
We are pretty good friends with a young alternative rock band out of Blountstown, Florida called Socialburn. They are very young, but they write good tunes and rock hard. They just got a deal with Elektra and are starting to get some serious FM radio airplay here in the USA. The guys in Socialburn like JPT and often wear their Scare Band t-shirts on stage at their concerts.
How is the contact with your fans?
We have always been a somewhat obscure band, but we love the feedback we get from our fans. We get quite a bit of email to our web site and we to try to send some of those people a t-shirt. The people we hear from seem to really love our music and we are very happy to hear from them. Actually, we seem to hear from more people in Germany, France, Italy and the rest of Europe than we do from the USA!
What was your biggest show?
I'm sure that our biggest show as JPT was playing for thousands of crazy stoned freaks at Volker Park in Kansas City, Missouri in 1974. When we were calling ourselves Prisoner, we played a pretty cool gig on New Years Eve in 1980 in Indianapolis. We opened for REO Speedwagon and the place was sold out. It was the old Market Square Arena and there were about 18,000 people there.
We played a red hot set of solid original tunes and got a standing ovation. We threw a lot of Prisoner albums out into the crowd from the stage and it was one of those albums that the guys from Monster Records found in a used record store in 1992. That's how JPT got our record contract with Monster, so that one gig back in 1980 turned out to be a pretty big deal.
How did you create such long-winding tracks as "Sleeping Sickness"?
Many of those 1970s tracks were recorded as totally spontaneous jams. "Sleeping Sickness" was a jam that turned into a song with a riff and lyrics. It was recorded at the Stone House on Crooked Road in Parkville, Missouri in 1976. We set up our gear in the living room and Greg Gassman set up a 24 channel Traynor mixing board in the dining room which was hooked straight into our Sony TC-366 reel to reel tape machine. Greg was trying to mix using headphones, but we had everything turned up to 11 and I'm certain that he couldn't really hear the mix in the phones. Plus, there were two very cute young women in the dining room with Greg and he was seriously distracted from his work.
I would look up during the recording and Greg would not have his hands on the knobs on the board, they were all over those two babes. Somehow, the mix on that track turned out great, but it was probably luck more than anything. The mix has Terry's guitar really dominating the right channel and if you were in a studio, you would probably never mix it that way. But, it was a live stereo recording and there was nothing we could do to change it and so that is the just the way it will always be. By the way, the two babes are included in the photo of the band on the inside cover of our "Past Is Prologue" CD. The bearded guy in the photo is Greg Gassman. If you want to see the photo, I guess you will just have to buy a copy of Past Is Prologue.
How important was the use of drugs?
There are many paths to higher consciousness. Those were wild and crazy days, no doubt about it. JPT Scare Band music is extreme psychedelic and we encourage listening with headphones.
Please, give us an insight in your daily life, past and present, aside of playing music?
Back in the 1970s, our lives were unstructured and our music reflected the chaotic nature of our existence. I would have to confess that in those days, we were into having as much fun as humanly possible. We were not concerned with record deals or concert tours nor with making lots of money. Fun, Friends, Frolic, lots of activities that start with F. Most of the material recorded in the 1970s was in the nature of spontaneous jams.
In the twenty-first century, we have a bit more structure in our lives and this is naturally reflected in our music. Terry and Paul bring song ideas to the band and we work them up. In the 21st century, we do more tunes with verses and choruses, but we always put long jams in our tunes. We did a couple of nice long freeform jams during the latest sessions. One of them is called "A Bit Of A Jam" and it runs almost 17 minutes.
Tell us something about the new album?
The new CD is going to be called "Jamm Vapours". We started recording it in 2001 and we are still working on it. We hope to get the final mix finished and get it released in 2003. In 1993, we recorded some tunes at a modern recording studio that some of our fans thought were too produced, too polished. Two of those tunes are on the "Past Is Prologue" CD, "I've Been Waiting" and "Wino."
For our latest effort, we tried to go back to our roots a bit, back to the basement. The "Jamm Vapours" sessions were recorded live in Paul's basement on a Yamaha AW-4416 digital 16 track hard disk recorder. We had to redo some of the vocals, but the instrumental tracks are all totally live. It looks like we actually have enough material to do two 60 minute "Jamm Vapours" CDs. There are some great tunes on the new record. I really like one tune that is called, "Right Mind." To me, it sounds like Pink Floyd meets Steely Dan.
What kind of music are you listening to nowadays?
I mostly listen to JPT music, old and new. There is still a lot of unreleased material from the 1970s recordings. There is a 24 minute jam called "Theme From The Monsters Holiday" that is one of our absolute best recordings. I like to listen to the new CD from our friends, Socialburn. The CD is called "Where You Are" and it just got released in February on Elektra. It was produced by John Kurzweg and it rocks!
How did you get together with Monster Records?
Phil Baker from Monster Records called me on the phone at my apartment in KC in 1992. Phone call totally out of the blue. He said, "Hi, I'm Phil Baker and I'm a record producer." I said, "Yeah, right." I didn't believe him! Phil and Dennis Bergeron had obtained one of our old albums in a used record store in Indianapolis. It was from a version of the band that we called Prisoner. We recorded an album which was released in 1980. It had a JPT Scare Band tune on it, "Burn In Hell," and Phil wanted to know if we had anything else on tape like that.
I told him that was actually a JPT tune and that I had a whole box of reel to reels. He asked me to play something over the phone to him. I think I played about 45 seconds of "Acid Acetate Excursion," with the phone held up to one of the stereo speakers in my living room, and he told me to put everything I had on cassette and send it to him and Dennis Bergeron in San Antonio. It took a little while to work out a deal with Phil and Dennis. We eventually worked out a pretty good deal and the first vinyl LP, "Acid Acetate Excursion" was released by Monster Records in 1994.
Are you satisfied with their work?
We owe a lot to Dennis and Phil at Monster Records. Although we are still somewhat obscure, whatever recognition we have achieved has been due to the vinyl LPs and CDs released on Monster Records. Those guys believed in the band and believed in the music and we will always be grateful to them for that. I think that all bands have a love/hate relationship with their record company. Monster has never been interested in any of our modern material, they have always been content to release the classic jams from the 1970s. We started our own label, Kung Bomar, in 2001 with the intent to release our new material. The first release on the Kung Bomar label was "Past Is Prologue" in 2002. "Past Is Prologue" was intended to be a bridge from the jams of the 70s, through the madness of the 90s and up to the present. It includes one track from the Jamm Vapours sessions called "Burn In Hell."
Please, tell us something about your future plans?
We are hard at work finishing up the new CD, "Jamm Vapours". We would like to play some gigs, maybe a festival here or there. I have been working on a possible CD or two of jams from the vast archives of 1970s recordings. Actually, it is probably about time for the three of us to get together and record some brand new material. The future looks very bright for JPT.
Thanks a lot for your time. Is there anything you like to tell us or the readers?
We wish to thank you for giving us the opportunity to communicate with your readers. We seem to have quite a few fans in Germany and other parts of Europe. We hope that everyone will enjoy the new "Jamm Vapours" CD when it is released.
(Rolf Kowalski / Kendrik / Klaus Kleinowski)