Desecration, Scythian Oath, and Sentinel are three bands intertwined both musically and by membership. Any examination of one band invariably leads to discussion of the other two.  Formed in 1983 under the original moniker Cynwulf, the band changed its name to Desecration in early 1984 and played many successful shows with the likes of Matrix, Militia, and WatchTower.  The lineup consisted of Buddy Forsythe - vocals, David Jancha - Guitar, David Roach - Bass, and Jon Liveoak - Drums.  To avoid confusion with a band out of Phoenix with the same title, Desecration made another name change to Scythian Oath in 1985, the same year their acclaimed and sought-after demo Shadow Of The Torturer was released.  Listen to samples in our Audio section.  By 1986 Forsythe had departed Scythian Oath and taken over rhythm guitar duties in Sentinel - a new project started by local guitarist Steve Larsen.  Buddy's guitar duties were to be short lived though, as he was soon asked to relocate to Dallas and take over vocal duties in the up-and-coming progressive thrash band Eldritch Rite.  On Forsythe's suggestion, David Jancha took over his guitar position in Sentinel.  Sentinel went on to perform many shows in the Austin and Dallas areas and record a fantastic and hard-to-find two song demo.  To further complicate and intertwine these musicians, Steve Larson went on to form the legendary Austin party-funk band Retarted Elf which at varying times in its history claimed Buddy Forsythe as a backup dancer and Rick Colaluca and Doug Keyser from WatchTower as its rhythm section!  

 

Recently TexasMetalUnderground.com was able to conduct a triple interview with David Jancha, Buddy Forsythe, and Steve Larsen and get their recollections on the classic Texas metal scene they helped put on the worldwide radar.  Many thanks go out to these guys for taking the time to reflect on the classic scene and help sort out some of the tangled web these three bands created.

 

Click here to view an awesome gallery of band photos and scans from the first issue of Cerebral Devastation zine from 1985.  Also, be sure to visit the Audio section for some rare samples from Scythian Oath's 1985 demo Shadow Of The Torturer.  

Coming soon...samples from the rare Sentinel demo.

Texas Metal Underground:  What originally drew you to heavy metal?  Were there any bands in particular that you would consider influences?

 

David Jancha:  I started listening to the roots of metal such as Iron Butterfly, Hendrix, Zeppelin, Cream, Ted Nugent, Bad Co., Foghat, Thin Lizzy, and Pink Floyd at an early age because I was hearing it all the time from my siblings since I was the youngest of five children (I was born in 1967).  In the late 70’s I discovered Rush, one of my biggest influences.  Rush was one of our band’s biggest influences.   In the early 80’s bands such as Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Metallica, Tygers of Pan Tang, Anthrax, Accept, Motorhead, Queensryche, The Ramones, Saxon, Trust, and Twisted Sister influenced every member.  Metallica and Maiden were strong motivators for us to write music.  In 1983 we listened to an import of Twisted Sister’s 'Under the Blade', then learned it. That  'hooked' us as a metal band.   In 1984, I was captivated by Yngwie Malmsteen’s 'Rising Force' album.  It was better than his previous projects and gave me more inspiration.  I had always enjoyed classical music also.  In the 90’s I got into Faith No More, Rammstein, and Type O Negative.  Those three bands mix cool vocals, keyboards, rockin’ guitars, and a sense of humor, which a lot of the latest bands lack. I just enjoy the mix of singers such as Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantomas…) and Pete Steele (Type O Negative).  I also listened to Body Count in the 90’s.  They had a cool mix of metal with a punk twist.  Body Count just shows how diverse and multi-talented Ice T can be.  I can’t leave out how much Eric Johnson has influenced me since 1986.  He is one of the smoothest and best guitar players in the world and he sounds great live.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  The intensity and shock of it drew me to metal, since I was a big KISS fan it was a natural progression.  Influences were Maiden, Saxon, Judas Priest, Tygers of Pan Tang, Thin Lizzy,…

 

TMU:  When did you first pick up an instrument and decide you wanted to play in a band?  Do you play any other instruments besides guitar?

 

David Jancha:  What really got me interested in wanting to play guitar was when I heard Van Halen’s first album and Rush’s 'Permanent Waves'.  I would listen to these albums over and over.  Eddie Van Halen’s soloing techniques blew me away.  That is when I knew that I wanted to play guitar.  I learned guitar and piano by ear.  I first started 'playing' guitar at the age of 14, but actually 'plucked' on my mom and grandmothers’ acoustics before that.  My grandmother sang and played in C&W / Bluegrass bands since the early days (~1930’s), when it was mostly 'live' radio, until she died.  I learned guitar by sitting in my room for hours, playing by ear to Rush albums. My first band was in 8th grade in Clear Lake City , Texas (Outside of Houston - near NASA).  We dreamed of being the next Rush but got only as far as playing covers: 'Working Man', 'Iron Man', and 'Smoke on the Water'.  The keyboardist and I had this constant argument about who was better, Rush or Styxx. Of course being a Rush fanatic I dogged Styxx.  The argument was definitely settled after Rush’s 'Moving Pictures' tour came to the Summit in Houston, in 1981.  I felt victorious.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  I remember when I first met David in 1982.  He moved in across the street from me in Buda, Texas.  All he had was a small Ampeg practice amp, so when he wanted to crank up he would plug his guitar into his parents 'tubed' Pioneer stereo.  Without any distortion pedals, the stereo would produce a natural distortion.  He would crank up the stereo and start jamming, it was funny.

 

TMU:  David, you took guitar lessons from WatchTower’s Billy White.  How did that come about?  How was he as a teacher?  How long did you study under him?

 

David Jancha:  Yes, I took private lessons from the almighty Billy White for several months.  I started as a music major in college right after high school.  In college I took all the guitar and music theory courses they offered.  My college guitar teacher was Russ Scanlon (The Brew, …), one of the best Progressive Jazz guitar players, but we learned mostly classical acoustic.  I felt I needed some 'one-on-one' lessons from Billy White to help me with the rock style of soloing and theory.  I studied music in the morning at college then drove straight to lessons with Billy, then practiced three hours a night, 5 nights a week with Desecration/Scythian Oath!  It left me little or no time to practice my lessons.  I still have a three ring binder full of lessons from Billy that I periodically review.  He was a nice guy that pushed me to practice hard, but that's not to say that he wouldn’t get agitated at me when I failed to practice a lesson.  Besides all of his critical guitar theory lessons, he made me do finger exercises on the fretboard, which made me start using my pinky all the time while soloing.  He wrote me notes on my lessons that said, “Do your finger exercises and DON’T FORGET TO USE YOUR FOURTH FINGER!!!” (pinky).  I do remember my first lessons.  I came in showing off my Eddie Van Halen hammering/pull-off technique.  He then said I had mastered hammering/tapping, but I needed to now go back and learn basic 'blues scale' solos. I kind of felt 'shot down' when he said that, but it gave me motivation and was worth starting fresh with such an excellent guitar player/teacher such as Billy.  He is truly a humble guy.

 

TMU:  The nucleus of Desecration/Scythian Oath started with a band called Cynwulf.  How did you guys meet and decide to start a band?  What was the average age of the band members?

 

David Jancha:  We were all living and going to high school in the Buda, Texas area (just south of Austin, Tx.) when we met in 1982.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  We met in the neighborhood or at school.  I would say our average age was seventeen when we started Cynwulf in 1983.

 

TMU:  What year did Cynwulf form and what type of music did you play?

 

David Jancha:  Scythian Oath’s beginning started off in 1983 with a band called Cynwulf.   We had one original called 'Hotter & Hotter' that sounded very similar to the beginning/verse of Iron Maiden’s 'Two Minutes to Midnight' , but was written years earlier.  We played covers such as Trust (Anti-Social), Twisted Sister, AC/DC, Def Leppard (1st album), Dio, Tygers of Pan Tang, Riot (Swords and Tequila), etc.  Before Cynwulf, David Roach (Bass player) and I would sit around at my house jamming anything we could.  I had a 'no-name' Marlboro Les Paul copy guitar and he had a Fender Longhorn bass that would never tune correctly.  Soon after that Buddy and I would sit in his room writing songs on guitar. We formed Cynwulf shortly after that.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Cynwulf formed in 1983. We did hard rock covers from Def Leppard, Judas Priest, Tygers of Pan Tang, etc.  The songs on the Cynwulf demo were: our original 'Hotter & Hotter', AC/DC 'TNT', and Twisted Sister 'Shoot em’ Down'.

 

TMU:  What else was going on in the Austin metal scene at that time?

 

David Jancha:  What I remember of 1983 was that WatchTower was basically a party band that played mostly covers such as Accept.  That’s what I remember of the scene, or the lack of it at the time.  The Butthole Surfers were not truly an Austin band.  They met at Trinity College in San Antonio in 1981, and relocated to Austin later, so I can’t really say they were in the Austin scene at that time.  There was really not much going on publicly except for WatchTower that year.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  I remember bands such as Ground Zero and WatchTower.

 

TMU:  How long was Cynwulf together before the band evolved into Desecration?

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Approximately one year, then we changed our name to Desecration.  The name was changed again for its final time one year later to Scythian Oath.  The singer of Cynwulf (Sid Donalson) went on after Cynwulf to play in Vicious Distortion.  Buddy then took over on vocals and David Jancha became the sole guitar player.

 

David Jancha:  When Cynwulf disbanded we also lost our drummer Roger Ables.  Roger was a great drummer but he had other obligations. That is when we met Desecration/Scythian Oath drummer Jon Liveoak in high school.  Jon had just moved to Buda from Alabama and was interested in being in our band.  We were not sure what to expect from him since Buddy said Jon had played in bands in Alabama that played covers such as Hank Williams, Jr.  At our first practice as Desecration in ~1984, Buddy sat down at Jon’s drum set and started playing drums with a Slayer/Metallica style.  It was so great because Buddy just said, ”play it like this!”.  Jon was such a bad-ass drummer that he picked up on the metal thing immediately.  Jon was “wore out” when he left practice that first night.  I don’t think he was used to the tempo of our music.  After that first practice as Desecration, with our new drummer, we knew that it would work.  I was so amazed by Jon’s talent and how fast he improvised our songs.  Even though Roger had left the band, he showed up at our practices and helped us with our equipment at gigs. If you listen to 'Break the Mold', that is Roger who comes into the song with that big scream.   Jon and Roger became friends also; they traded licks, which helped ease Jon into the band.  At the time Jon entered the band I always wondered how he could pick up our style so fast until I found out that Rush (Neil Peart) was a big influence for him as a drummer.  Learning Peart’s work helped his precision and timing.  Our music had a lot of time changes, and he was the master.  That is another reason I cite Rush as a big influence.  We were all into Rush and I think that helped us as musicians.

 

TMU:  You guys had a practice space in Buda, Texas at a fishing tackle company.  How did that come about?  Were you friends with the owner?

 

David Jancha:  Practice places were hard to come by for a bunch of high school kids, so in the early days of Desecration we drove to San Marcos to rehearse at a rehearsal/studio called 'Heaven Sound'.  We made all of our early demos there. It was getting expensive and far to drive, not to mention setting up and tearing down the drums and equipment every time.  That is when we had to find another place, which we did at a factory. I remember in early 1985, it snowed fairly well, so we decided to practice in Buddy’s garage.  The snow stayed around for several days, so we were stranded practicing in his garage.  All we had to warm us was an outdoor kerosene heater that we used there.  The heater was for outdoors only not indoors!  We sat in his garage re-breathing these fumes.  We were all feeling weird and laughing uncontrollably.  I’m sure we were suffering from anoxia (lack of oxygen).  We just took more breaks and kept on practicing.  We were that much into practicing and playing music. We practiced during the evenings at a fish tackle plant called 'Comal Tackle Company' in Buda,Texas.  I worked there for a time running the cork injector machines and in the paint room.  Everyone in the band did his time working for the factory.  Our bass player’s dad was the plant’s general manager.  He let us practice in a spare storage/office shed at the plant.  It was cool because it was in the middle of nowhere.  Nothing was stolen during the whole time we practiced there even with the employees coming in and out there during the day.  Actually they were all pretty cool and probably kept an eye on our little 'Jam House' as we called it.  It was in one of those areas that you never have to lock your front door, if you know what I mean.  We did have a bad incident happen when the owner of the factory came there one night while we were practicing.  We don’t know the reason he came there (could have been after a 'spat' with his wife for all we know), but he either sat in his car or in his office while we were practicing.  I think we got a bad rap when he probably saw tons of friends and fans partying outside the 'jam house' while we practiced.  That or he finally found the industrial size trash can full of our bass player’s Jack Daniel’s bottles.  Roach should have disposed of his Jack Daniel’s bottles away from there. That was definitely one nail in Scythian Oath’s coffin.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Our bass player’s Dad was the manager, we all worked there at one time or another.

 

TMU:  I saw Desecration live several times in Austin opening for bands like WatchTower and Matrix.  What are some of your memories of those early shows?

 

David Jancha:  Memories of large crowds and major anxiety before we came on, but yet comfort from fellow bands.  WatchTower helped us get our start.  At the time, Buddy was a good friend with Jason McMaster and I was Billy White's student.  I had major performance anxiety while Billy watched from the side of the stage.  We had known Mike Botello, the drummer from Matrix, since he had lived near us in Buda and went to high school with us. Phillip Patterson of Matrix was such a nice person and friend, besides being an excellent guitar player.  He really was a cool guy.  I remember Phil and I 'freaking out' about the scene at Rascals in Fort Worth when we first played there. Unfortunately, the last time I saw Phil was at an Eric Johnson gig at Aqua Fest here in Austin around 1990 or so.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  I can remember be nervous before we went on at those gigs.  I also remember eating 39-cent hamburgers from a place near the Ritz before the show.  Anxiety and hamburgers…what a mix!

 

TMU:  In 1985-1986 Desecration played a few shows in the Dallas / Fort Worth area at a club called Rascals.  From what I remember it was out in the middle of nowhere and had a rather interesting clientele.  Any good (or bad) memories about playing there?

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Yes, good and bad. We nearly got killed one night by a crazed biker who thought we were the ones who stabbed his buddy a week earlier. It was quite different than what we were used to. One year on New Years Eve we were minutes from going on stage and the club was shut down for improper storage of garbage.  That was garbage!  It was standing room only that night. (See flyer here.) After that night we stayed there all week and helped them pay bills so Rascals could reopen and we could go on with the show.

 

David Jancha:  The Rascals gigs and our time up there was chaotic at times.  As Buddy said, a big ass crazed biker who stumbled in from the bar next door to Rascals almost killed us.  He was out for some type of vengeance, possibly on one of Rascals’ employees and unfortunately at the time we were on stage rehearsing for our next gig.  The management staff and Buddy ran into Rascals’ management office to find a weapon to defend us while the rest of us were left on stage to entertain this guy and defend ourselves.  I do remember the guy calling us (in a drunken voice) 'fuckin’ punks'.  He demanded us to play 'old school' rock such as Zeppelin and ZZ Top.  We were so freaked out by this giant hellion biker that we simultaneously started jamming ZZ Top's 'La Grange'.  Then we went into Zep’s 'Whole Lotta Love' at warp speed.  Just visualize Anthrax playing ZZ Top and Zeppelin and you’ll get the idea.  The songs we played pleased him but due to the speed we played them it was over fast.  The guy then made his way to the office to find his victim.  He found the office door and started beating on it.  By this time Buddy and others inside the office had made a makeshift stun wire by cutting an A/C power cord, fraying the ends, and plugging it into the wall’s power source.  They had it plugged in and ready to deliver 110 volts once the crazed biker was able to break through the door.  Fortunately, at the time the door was almost knocked in, the Arlington police department got there.  They cuffed the guy and pulled out this massive Buck knife from inside his coat.  The dude was on a blood rampage!  The next incident was at Rascals’ New Year’s Eve show of 1986 which was packed beyond belief until the Arlington police came in and shut the show down just minutes before it was to start, due to some bullshit stupid health permit problem or violation.  It was a total scam.  There was nothing wrong, they just wanted a reason to close the club that night.  Probably to keep all the metal heads from 'corrupting' their conservative town.  There was an article written up about this infamous New Year’s gig in Cerebral Devastation.  I remember our last gig at Rascals, the crowd was really into it and thrashing around.  The stage was fairly small so a headbanger’s hand reached out, grabbed my high 'E' string, it broke and slapped me pretty good.  Dallas also had a large 'groupie' population.  We had to scramble in different directions when we got off the stage.  We definitely wanted to avoid 'the clap' or something worse!

 

TMU:  Did the music scene in Dallas start to change after many of the heavier Austin bands started playing there regularly?

 

David Jancha:  I am not sure of the extent of change but I think we influenced some of their fan base with progressive metal.  The first time we went to the Dallas/Fort Worth area (at Rascals ~Oct. 1985) with Matrix we were all kind of stunned.  There was very little, if any progressive metal there.  Warlock was basically the 'house band' at Rascals.  It seemed like the audience’s first intro to Matrix and Scythian Oath was mixed due to the lack of progressive metal that they had experienced. The club crowd would sit around while the true metal fans were on their feet banging their heads (still not much, if any thrashing as we experienced in other areas). Most bands in that area (NOT including Rotting Corpse) in 1985 that we heard seemed to be kind of a mix of Motley Crue and WASP at the time we first arrived there.  They kind of had a Motley Crue sound with a harder edge.  Let’s put it like this, a band called 'The Zoo' played with Matrix and us the first gig and I think their hardest song was a cover of Zeppelin’s 'Immigrant Song'.  No offense to the bands, but that was the style some of them were into up there.  By the time we got back there a few months later everyone was into harder, progressive metal.  Even Warlock’s style and new songs had even reflected a change.  It seemed like the glam and spandex days were disappearing in that area after that.  Some friends in the Dallas/Fort Worth area had even told me years later that Pantera’s music had been indirectly changed by the influx of progressive metal that was started off by Austin bands.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that Austin bands were their influences but instead help to influence some of their fans.  I think that Pantera’s fans demanded more from them than what early Pantera had offered.  They even asked Jason McMaster to be their singer, from what I’ve heard.  Pantera was filling clubs in North Texas even before they were at their hardest and heaviest.  One of the first true Dallas/Fort Worth metal bands we experienced was Rotting Corpse.  They were in the audience at the first Rascals show in 1985.  We got their demo then soon after did some gigs with them in Dallas/Fort Worth and Austin.  I feel that Rotting Corpse was a big influence and credit to that area.  We loved those guys!  I use to go to the Dallas/Fort Worth area to see friends, and I’ll never forget a gig that Walt Trachsler (Rotting Corpse) was mixing down at the Tombstone Factory.  I can’t even remember the name of the band but I do remember Walt and I cranking up the woofers at certain parts of the song.  I thought we were going to blow the PA speakers.  I remember the other bands getting heavier also.  One night I did a guest spot with Warlock at Joe’s Garage.  We played Slayer's 'Black Magic' and the crowd was into it.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  I remember Rotting Corpse being very heavy and probably the only thrash metal band we met there on our first visit.

 

TMU:  Where else did Desecration gig besides Austin and Dallas?  Did you ever make it down to San Antonio or Corpus Christi?

 

David Jancha:  We played in San Antonio at a club called Traxx, or something like that.  San Antonio had a much heavier (but not as progressive) scene than Austin and Dallas/Fort Worth, and the audience demanded it.  I can remember them chanting for us to replay SOD’s  'Freddy Krueger' over and over.  I think we played it several times.  They were screaming for us to play 'DRI' also.  The only rough moment I remember there was when it was time for us to play our instrumental that usually went over well in the other cities.  I looked over at our bass player and he was waving at me telling me not to start it.  I went ahead and played it.  It was something that I wrote that had this clean Pink Floyd-ian first half that bridged into a harder Yngwie-like (neo-classical) ending.  Like I said, the crowd that night was ready to thrash only and all I can say is thank God for the second part of the song or I might have been thrown off the stage by either the crowd or my own band mates.  I think we went right back to SOD after that instrumental to avoid a stage rush.  Unfortunately we never made it to Corpus Christi.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Yes, we did play San Antonio with Death Tripper and Valkyrie.

 

TMU:  What are some of your memories of playing shows at the legendary Ritz Theater in Austin?

 

David Jancha:  – I remember the Ritz as being this massive place with the biggest stage.  Unfortunately the stage monitors never seemed to be turned on or working right, so it was a challenge to hear each other during a live performance.  It was a challenge to keep tight on such a big stage.  I can remember looking back at our drummer Jon and he would give the clueless, “I can’t hear anything” signal due to no monitors and being far away from any amps, especially the bass amp.  When the monitors are not working there you have to rely strictly on the acoustics of the stage, and with a stage that big the sound acoustics are bouncing all over the place.  That was really tough since we had been rehearsing in small quarters.  Somehow we pulled it off.  Other than that it was great to play for big crowds with our friends such as WatchTower, Militia, Matrix, etc.  I feel that there has not been a metal club that big and in such a perfect area (Austin's 6th Street entertainment district) since the Ritz changed into a game room/pool hall years ago.  The Back Room (another Austin metal club) does not compare to the Ritz due to its size and location.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Anxiety, large crowds, and the smell of sewage coming from the alley behind the Ritz.  It was a great place to play.  It was big and in the perfect location.

 

TMU:  Desecration had a few cover songs in its live repertoire.  What were some of these?  How many originals did the band have and what were some titles?

 

David Jancha:  Some cover songs were:  Motorhead-'Ace of Spades', Judas Priest-'Breaking the Law', Slayer-'Black Magic', SOD-'Freddy Krueger', Metallica-'Motorbreath', Trust-'AntiSocial', Iron Maiden-'Running Free'.  A few of the original songs I can remember were: Break the Mold, Plea of Innocence, Shadow of the Torturer, Accidental International Death, & Dark Castle.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  We had about ten or eleven originals.

 

TMU:  Why did the band change its name from Desecration to Scythian Oath?

 

Buddy Forsythe:  We heard there was a band in Phoenix with the same name and that they had a record deal with a major record company.  We had to change it as soon as possible because we were doing several gigs and about to record a new demo at the time.

 

David Jancha:  The name Scythian Oath was thought of by our bass player.  He had read about the Scythians, one of the first groups of warriors on horseback, who had taken their oath as a warrior by drinking blood out of a skull.  I guess it’s all true, we believed what he had told us.  That is how our 'Shadow of the Torturer' demo cover got the warrior’s arm holding the skull.  I really did not like the name much because I felt it was too long, and some people were spelling it wrong on things like flyers.  We were doing shows at the time and had to make a quick decision.  No one else could think of a good name and we were all kind of despondent about losing our original name, so due to our time constraints we all settled on Scythian Oath.

 

TMU:  Scythian Oath’s 1985 demo 'Shadow Of The Torturer' was well received on the underground tape trading circuit.  Where was the demo recorded?  Do you remember how much it cost to record?  How many were produced and sold?

 

Buddy Forsythe:  It was recorded at Keylight studios in South Austin it cost about $200 dollars. We pressed about 75-100 copies.

 

David Jancha:  What made Keylight studios and the 'Shadow…' demo so unique was that a guy that had never produced/recorded a metal band produced it.  Cool thing about that was he put a fresh spin on our music.

 

TMU:  Did the band receive mail from fans across the globe like many of the other Texas bands at the time?  What about local press?  I know Cerebral Devastation zine out of Dallas gave the band some exposure.  Any others?

 

David Jancha:  We were in other zines such as 'AxeAttack' and maybe 'Grey Matter'.  Somehow these publications such as 'Cerebral Devastation', 'Axe Attack', and even bootlegged demos made it as far as Eastern Europe. This really helped us gain some international fans.  I still have some of the letters from Europe and the Northeast United States.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Besides the United States, we received fan mail from France, Greece, Denmark, and Sweden.

 

TMU:  There were rumblings of record label interest throughout the mid 1980’s Texas metal scene.  Did Scythian Oath ever see any interest from record labels?

 

David Jancha:  We heard rumors of Electra records wanting to possibly enter the progressive metal arena.  We received several calls, several '3-way' calls a week at times, from a woman in the Chicago area that claimed she had ties to Electra via Don Dokken.  She wanted us to come up there for several weeks to tour and build a fan base, but there was no way at the time, due to other responsibilities, that we could get up there. A minority of us wanted to go there and the rest of us did not.  That was one of the final nails in the Scythian Oath coffin.  It started a lot of tension between us, which was one of the biggest factors in the band’s split.  John Perez (Rotting Corpse / Solitude Aeturnus) has contacted me recently to let me know and make sure it was cool that our 'Shadow of the Torturer' demo will be on a Texas Metal compilation album that his BrainTicket record label is going to press.  They are going to press 1,000 copies. He is not sure of the date, but says it will be soon.  (Read more about this release in our John Perez interview.)

 

Buddy Forsythe:  I was contacted by Metal Blade Records, but unfortunately the band split before any 'in person' talks could begin.

 

TMU:  By June of 1986, Scythian Oath had broken up and Buddy had moved on to playing rhythm guitar for Sentinel.  What was the main cause for the split?

 

David Jancha:  Several reasons caused the split.  We all had been close friends years before the band formed.  The band even pushed us closer due to practicing almost every day for three hours a night, so this may have even caused some 'burn out' and brotherly fighting. Another reason was that Jon, our drummer was starting college at Southwest Texas State University and was going to live on campus.  As I said earlier, I was going to school during the day and practicing with the band at night, which caused me a degree of 'burn out'.  I already mentioned in the question before about the tension caused by the 'mystery woman' from Chicago. I think the final factor for the split was when we lost our rehearsal 'jam house' at the fishing tackle company, near our home, in Buda, Texas.  All these problems came together at the same time.  I really cannot give you one main reason.  It was a sad situation because our fan base had grown and I feel we could have gone a lot farther.  All of us had the capabilities to refine the music over time, to help us continue.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  That sounds about right. A bunch of stressful things happened all at once.

 

TMU:  Did Sentinel play covers also, or were the songs all originals?  Do you remember any song titles?

 

Buddy Forsythe:  All originals, such as Idle Minds and Panzer Attack.

 

David Jancha:  Well, actually I do remember playing one cover: 'Honky Tonk Woman' by the Rolling Stones.  I do remember it being rather funny to play live since Sentinel was such a fast and heavy band.

 

TMU:  How long was Buddy a member of Sentinel before he moved to Dallas to sing for Eldritch Rite?  What made him decide to split from Austin? How long did he stay in Dallas?

 

Buddy Forsythe:  I was a guitar player for Sentinel for about three months, then left to sing for Eldritch Rite.  I was with Eldritch Rite for 6 months.

 

David Jancha:  I replaced Buddy as guitar player when Buddy left Sentinel to go sing for Eldritch Rite. Steve Larsen (the founder of Sentinel and Retarted Elf) and I were then the guitar players.  Steve was a very humble and patient teacher to me when I joined Sentinel.  I can remember sitting in his bedroom for a while learning several Sentinel songs with him.  I can remember getting a little tired the first few practices because the guitar parts were like Slayer and Exodus, fast and unforgiving on the arms.  Steve and I synergistically sped up Sentinel’s tempo with each practice.  We both were seasoned guitar players and we seemed to push the music harder every time we got together.  The drummer was not happy about the speed increase and he let us know it several times during the rehearsals. Steve and I would laugh it off.  We loved the speed of the music. Once in a while, Kent (Sentinel's singer) would also complain about singing to that tempo. John, our bass player, actually loved the increase in speed of Sentinel, but this came from a guy who did not mind if we went 'Punk'.

 

TMU:  Sentinel played a few shows in Austin with WatchTower and Militia.  What was the reaction of the Austin audience?

 

David Jancha:  Audience reaction to Sentinel was good.  We were a powerful, hard, fast and heavy band that people could thrash to.  I do remember our last gig, which happened to be at the Ritz.  We ended up playing 'Honky Tonk Woman' at least twice in a row due to the crowd getting into it and to help delay while I got another guitar (Steve’s back-up guitar) since I happened to break a couple of strings in a row at that gig.  I can remember Kent, our singer, telling the crowd, “He broke another one”.  Man, that broken string situation was stressful for me.

 

TMU:  Sentinel existed before the band Retarted Elf was formed, but some of these shows were sponsored by Retarted Elf Productions using the same logo the band later used.  What’s the story behind that?  Was Steve Larsen involved in these productions and how did that evolve into the band Retarted Elf?

 

Steve Larsen:  About the elf on the flyers and stuff...Retarted Elf existed 2-3 years as a logo / t-shirt, before it was a band. I had made a bunch of Retarted Elf t-shirts and was trying to make some cash...so I thought putting on a show and putting on the Elf logo might sell some shirts.

 

TMU:  Where else did Sentinel play and with what other bands?

 

Buddy Forsythe:  We played at Machinist Hall in Irving, Texas with Mace and Rotting Corpse. (See flyer here.)

 

David Jancha:  We played the Ritz and another place in Austin, the name of which I can't remember. (It was called The Heart Of Rock & Roll - see flyer here.)

 

TMU:  Sentinel’s demo is one of the harder Texas demos to get a hold of today.  What was the reaction to this recording?  What were the songs on this demo?

 

Steve Larsen:  We recorded it at Johnny Medina's studio in 8 hours. We never pressed it, so the only distribution was done with tapes that we had dubbed ourselves. That is why it is hard to find.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  Steve and I can only remember the name of one song on the demo called 'Panzer Attack'.  The only person I know that had an available copy of the demo was Kent Steele (Sentinel singer), but he gave it to John Perez for the compilation album that Sentinel and Scythian Oath will be coming out on someday.

 

David Jancha:  I have a copy stashed somewhere in one of the many boxes in storage.  The only two songs I remember on the Sentinel demo were 'Death Be Proud' and 'Panzer Attack'.  There may have been a third song but I can’t remember the name of it if there was.

 

TMU:  How long was Sentinel together before calling it quits?  Why did the band split up?

 

Steve Larsen:  We were together for what I seem to remember for 2 years or so. Ended when the drummer Speedy Martinez went to join the Marines.

 

David Jancha:  I still think the we had a 'tempo disgruntled' drummer that was so frustrated with the band’s speed evolution that he joined the Marines.  Once he enlisted, he probably constructed mannequins of Steve and I, which he impaled with his bayonet on a daily basis.  I felt we were at our strongest point when we broke up.

 

TMU:  Sentinel singer Kent Steele later formed Baron Steele with David Roach playing bass.  Were you involved in any other musical projects after the demise of Sentinel?  What about the other members?

 

David Jancha:  Buddy and I were in a band together after Scythian Oath (see next question).  I was in another band years ago that practiced at Austin Rehearsal Complex (ARC) and did some multi-track recording.  We had an excellent line-up of musicians, but none from Scythian Oath or Sentinel.  We played originals that had a Faith No More style but unfortunately 'Grunge' was at its peak at that time.

 

TMU:  Are you still in touch with former members of Scythian Oath and Sentinel?  What are they up to now?  Are you still involved in music in any way?

 

David Jancha:  Buddy and I were in a rock band together in the late 80’s called Valhalla.  When the bass player and I left that band Steve Larsen replaced me on guitar and David Roach replaced the bass player.  You can see how we recycle each other…the matrix of bands we were in together, or at different times were many.  Jon Liveoak (Scythian Oath drummer) and I have jammed together periodically over the years. We had a group that would get together and play covers. We would jam entire Ramones and Green Day albums until the cop across the street would bang on my door. I guess hearing my wife (she would sing vocals for us some of the time) sing the The Ramones' 'Beat On The Brats (With A Baseball Bat)' reminded him too much of his job.  It’s kind of hard to lightly jam on the drums and guitar while playing that music.  Jon finally invested in a set of electronic drums and now can jam with headphones so he doesn’t freak out the neighbors.  Jon is a computer programmer, Buddy works at the Texas State Senate, I am a Registered Respiratory Therapist, and I think Roach is smoking 'Reds' while fishing and living on the river in Bastrop, Texas. At least, that is what I hear.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  I play drums in a Disco band with Steve Larsen now.  I also do some drumming gigs with C&W bands every so often.

 

TMU:  The mid 1980’s – early 1990’s Texas metal scene is revered worldwide to this day.  I get email daily from people all over the world who are absolutely fanatical about this music.  In your opinion, what made the Texas scene so different and unique?

 

David Jancha:  I feel that some of the reasons for the scene being different and unique were due to factors caused from population growth in the Austin area.  Austin had a big growth period in the early 1980’s, some of it due to the infusion of all the high tech companies such as Lockheed, Motorola, AMD, and other companies.  With this came people from Houston, California, Florida, and all over the place.  Some of these people came with a diverse and/or heavier musical influence.  It seems like Austin’s indigenous fan base has and still favors 'Rock-a-Billy' style music.  The influx of all the non-Austinites just helped to build the metal scene in the early/mid 1980’s. Heavier music was progressing internationally at the time and with this progressive metal began in Austin with bands such as WatchTower.  I am not saying that was the direct cause of Austin’s unique metal scene at the time but it is a theory.  We had been playing as band before we saw our first WatchTower show, but after seeing them it motivated us even more.  WatchTower was the cement that held the scene together.  They helped us get our start by letting us open for them and we couldn’t thank them enough.

 

Buddy Forsythe:  It is hard to say why the scene here was unique except for the fact that most Austin bands had members that were 'transplanted' from different areas.  People always think that people such as Willy Nelson, Jason McMaster, and Stevie Ray Vaughn are/were from Austin, but they are not.  They were transplants like a lot of us. Same with the fans in the Austin area at the time.  The 'transplant theory' could be one of the reasons Austin’s metal scene was unique in the 1980’s.

 

TMU:  And finally, what are your thoughts on the metal scene (or lack thereof) of today?

 

David Jancha:  I consider it to be lacking in the Austin area.  The good days of Austin progressive metal ended a decade and a half ago.  If there is one thing you can say about the 1980’s Austin scene was that the vocals were better than what I hear in the area now.  Grunge probably helped in the demise of the progressive metal scene in the early 1990’s.  It’s highly doubtful but maybe progressive metal will make a come back.  If you turn on MTV or VH1 nowadays, a lot of the new bands suck.  They rarely use dynamics or play guitar solos in their songs.  There are still great bands in the world such as Type O Negative, Rob Zombie, Rammstein, Tenacious D, Judas Priest, and several others, but there aren't many in the Austin area.  Too bad Faith No More couldn’t stick together though, it would have been another great metal band to add to the list, but again I am biased towards Mike Patton's vocals!  Like I said in one of the first questions, these bands know how to combine cool vocals, keys, killer guitars, and still have a sense of humor.  Death metal definitely lacks humor and vocals.  Even Pete Steele knew when to get out of the death metal 'grind and grumble' vocals of Carnivore.  Pete is just one of the great rock singers! You don’t know what you’re missing, if you don’t listen to Type O Negative and Rammstein.  They keep the world rockin’…

 

Buddy Forsythe:  The Austin scene really sucks now! You're much better off listening to the bands David just listed if you’re into metal.

 

TMU:  Thanks for your time!  I really appreciate your help in letting the world know the history of the legendary Texas metal scene.

 

David Jancha:  No problem, thanks for featuring us on your site!  We are honored.