Welcome Back: JPT Scare Band

Founded in 1973, Kansas City’s JPT Scare Band are one of the unsung pioneers of stoner metal.

The trio – guitarist/vocalist Terry Swope, drummer Jeff Littrell and bassist Paul Grigsby – created shuddering riff-rock that owed as much to the free expressionism of jazz as it did the acid-blues of Hendrix or Cream. Their first two albums, Acid Acetate Excursion and Rape Of Titan’s Sirens, are to be reissued on spanking new vinyl.

Why make these reissues vinyl-only?

Terry Swope: For people my age, when I started listening to music it was vinyl or nothing. It’s in my DNA.

How did the JPT Scare Band come about?

Jeff Littrell: We’d been the back-up band for a local country-rock singer, Carol Cruise. As the band got heavier and more psychedelic, the three of us discovered a connection. So we all moved into this place, the Electric House, and just jammed in the basement every night. Around February ’74 we made a reel-to-reel tape and Terry wrote on the box: ‘Acid Acetate Excursion including Theme From The Monster’s Holiday, by the JPT Scare Band.’

TS: We’d just go downstairs, turn on the tape machine and go wild. It was a powerful aphrodisiac. We were down there howling into the wind, so to speak. I could literally feel the guitar shaking in my hands, vibrating from the sheer amount of decibels.

Where did the ‘Scare’ bit come from?

TS: In those times, illegal drugs were everywhere – in our house and our bodies. It was all-pervasive and people were in altered states of consciousness, sometimes for twelve or eighteen hours a day. Various people would drop by the house – there’d be hash, marijuana, mescaline, LSD, psilocybin – hear these crazy songs of ours and be bothered by them. They said they were scared by the music.

JL: We were really a bunch of hippies, experimenting with drugs, and the music was authentically psychedelic. One of the reasons we called it the Scare Band was because a lot of our stuff was minor key and real dark. But it was also scary how tight we were. We were almost telepathic.

Monster Records first issued these recordings in the nineties. How did they discover you?

TS: We played a big-time gig in Indianapolis, with REO Speedwagon, and threw out a bunch of albums into the crowd. Somehow the guy at Monster got hold of one, heard the song Burn In Hell and wanted to know if we had any more like it. So we sent him a pile of these crazy tapes that we’d made in the seventies.

What about plans for the future?

JL: Somehow we’re internationally known, but at the same time still painfully obscure. I’d like to do more live shows, because we can tear people’s faces off. Terry is an amazing shredder and can sing like crazy too. I’d put us up against anybody. We’re a fierce, blastin’, balls-to-the-wall psychedelic blues-rock trio. We might all be getting old, but we can still kick major ass.

TS: The JPT Scare Band have managed to play only a couple of times in the last 30 years. The music we made came from a certain place, from a certain time and feeling. But it can really get to you. I think it has some very powerful moments.

Acid Acetate Excursion/Rape Of The Titan’s Sirens is out on vinyl on April 28 via Ripple Music.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.