Drywater was an unknown band from Pennsylvania. Originally there were only 25 copies released. Today we have a reissue out and I was lucky enough to talk with two members of the band. Enjoy their story.
Thank you for taking your time for It's Psychedelic Baby. We are really pleased to have your band here. 'Drywater' LP was reissued on 'Time-Lag Records'. How do you feel about that?
Dennis Cheplick: I was quite surprised when I was contacted by Nemo, mainly because the album is almost 40 years old, and it certainly (and understandingly) does not showcase the current level of my musical "chops".
Jack Sarvis: Overall, surprised but excited to have the opportunity for our music to be heard by a wider audience.
Did you imagine, that after all this years people will still find your music interesting?
Dennis Cheplick: Not Really.
Jack Sarvis: Yes considering it's never been heard by most people.
How did Nemo from 'Time-Lag' reach you?
Dennis Cheplick: He contacted me after seeing an article about the album selling for $1000.00 on the internet. He somehow already had a CD copy of it and liked it.
What would you say were some important musicians or bands, that had a great impact on you. How did your influences changed from childhood to teen years?
Dennis Cheplick: Do I have to go back to my childhood again? Oh musically. I mainly listened to
top 40" radio in the sixties, so I love the Beatles, Stones, Creedence, etc. Later, I really got into a wide range of acoustic/electric music, from John Denver to Led Zeppelin.
Jack Sarvis: I always remember Elvis Presley as a young Kid on T.V. and wanted to sing like him as I Got Older, Chuck Berry, Creedence Clearwater Rival, Santana were big influences.
Were you in any bands before 'Drywater'?
Dennis Cheplick: I was in a polka band from 15-19 years of age. We had regular gigs on weekends during that time, mostly weddings, VFW's small clubs,etc. Needlless to say, I was by far the youngest member. No, there were no concerts or recordings, Thank God.
Jack Sarvis: No I wasn't in any bands, but I did sit in with Dennis in the polka band when they wanted some rock & roll.
What would you say was the scene in your town? Which local bands were there in late 60's and early 70's?
Dennis Cheplick: I'll refer to Jack on this one, since I was to young and "nerdish" to even know there was a scene.
Jack Sarvis: I remember a band called 'Menagerie'. A great band that sounded like Chicago and
a band called the 'Silver Spurs', a great country band.
Tell us about the beginning of 'Drywater'. How did you guys came together and start the band?
Dennis Cheplick: Jack was introduced to me at a playing gig through my uncle Henry, who by the way being a farmer, inspired the title cut of the album.
Jack Sarvis: I saw Dennis playing in the band and he was really talented and when I got to know him, found out that we had the same interest in music.
Where was your rehearsing place and what are perhaps some memories from jamming there? What songs did you usually play at the start of the band?
Dennis Cheplick: The rehearsal place was frequently the basement of my parents home, or Henry's living room, Or Jack's parents trailer. Memories are scarce , but I do remember frequent interruptions from family or friends. We played mostly "covers" at first like "Johnny B Goode", "Proud Mary", "Twist & Shout" Etc.
Jack Sarvis: Dennis and I liked playing our own music and we worked on the songs that we wrote.
What can you tell me about writing down material which later appears on LP?
Dennis Cheplick: The songs I wrote myself, I scribbled down on paper as they came to me. The co-written ones were pretty much the same although sometimes Jack or I already had parts of the song.
Jack Sarvis: I would rarely write down the song until I was finished with it. Writing took to much time and I wanted to concentrate on the creation of the song, but now I do write everything down.
About LP; at what studio did you record it? I would love if you could tell us what are some of the memories from recording this LP? I believe it was done without any editing?
Dennis Cheplick: It was recorded at a local studio called "Marjon Studios". I remember feeling "rushed" because we were "on the clock" due to our limited finances. I also remember hoping and praying that we didn't make many mistakes because there wasn't time to correct them. (Obviously, we had to leave a few on the album).
Jack Sarvis: It was our first time in a professional studio, we played live as a band, what you hear is the real thing. We (the band) did no editing because of money concerns and the mixing was done as we recorded.
What gear did you guys use?
Dennis Cheplick: I used a hollow body Gibson electric (I don't remember exact "specs") and a cheap 12 string (don't remember brand). I ran them through a fender amp.
Jack Sarvis: I used a Gibson ES (Electric Spanish) 335 semi hollow body guitar and a Kustom 200 amplifier.
The cover artwork is something, that I find really good. The sea and the clouds make you want to grab the record not knowing whats on it. How did you choose this photo and what do you think it represents?
Dennis Cheplick: The cover was chosen from a large sampling of photos from RPC Records, which manufactured the album. (all 25 of them).
Jack Sarvis: We liked the cover because it had water on it and dry skies. Thus you have Drywater.
Did you have any concept in your head while recording this album?
Dennis Cheplick: No
Jack Sarvis: We wanted a blend of acoustic, with 12 string, mixed with hard fuzz or deep reverb lead.
We wanted to combine the two extremes to come up with a unique sound. Each song different but the same. Kinda of like the name Drywater.
Dennis Chelick: I Think Zeppelin did it a little better.
Jack Sarvis: Well, maybe a "little better".
Like in most of my interviews I kindly ask band members to comment each song a bit and perhaps introduce the fans of the LP and those who still don't have it, to the songs and in general about your background as a songwriter. So please tell us about your songs.
Backbone of the Nation
Dennis Cheplick: "Backbone Of The Nation" a pro farmer anthem, was inspired by my Uncle Henry, who was (and still is) a farmer and friend of Jack's. The back cover photo on the album was actually taken at my uncle's farm and he still has the Hay wagon. The rest of the songs that I wrote alone (To Much Of Nothing, The Stones You Throw, Sweet and Free and How Many More Years). I don't remember any notable specifics. Suffice it to say I was in a state of melancholy and bitterness, probably due to "getting no satisfaction"! Oh Yeah. I remember, feeling relieved at getting my electric parts on the first "takes on "Untitled Love" and "How Many More Years".
I Don't Love Her Anymore.
Jack Sarvis: About a man who cares for someone, but know's it will never work out.
Jack Sarvis: The music, I wanted to sound like a plane coming in for a landing and then taking off.
Jack Sarvis: If you want a relationship to work, you have to tell them how you feel. Denny's lead and
guitar playing is my favorite of all the songs.
Jack Sarvis: I never liked school but I was always going. I was attending Youngstown State University but would rather stay home and play my guitar and write music.
You send the tapes to 'RPC Records' and order minimum of 25 LP's. Tell us about this deal?
Dennis Cheplick: RPC records had a minimum order of 25 copies, so we chose that again, because of limited resources.
Pictures from left to right, top to bottom
1. Gregg rehearsing on drums in the Cheplick's basement
2. Gregg, Jack & Denny proudly displaying album the day it arrived in Henry's living room.
3. Denny & Jack leaning against Jack's 1969 Camero
4. Jack and Denny jamming in Cheplick's basement.
5. Denny rehearsing a song for album.
6. Ken Turcic playing guitar in Jack's parents living room. the amp Ken is using was used
in the making of "Backbone Of The Nation" album.
7. Kathy, My sister and now married to Ken. standing next to Ken's 1969 Corvette.
8. Denny' driving His Uncle Henry's tractor on his farm.
9. Denny in his one room Nashville apartment, before 1st Nashville session.
How was the LP distributed if it actually was?
Dennis Cheplick: It was "distributed" by hand to relatives and friends. And the few remaining copies were sent to major labels in hope of a deal. How naive, huh.
Dennis Cheplick: We played no shows. (The band dissolved shortly after the recording).
What happened to 'Drywater' and when did you disbanded?
Dennis Cheplick: I went to Nashville 4 months later to pursue my own music. I recorded a few
demo's there, which are on the "Nashville Sessions" bonus CD, which can be purchased with the
Jack Sarvis: I went to work for a company called "Packard Electric", now called "Delphi Corporation".
Were you part of any other bands after the 'Drywater'?
Dennis Cheplick: I collaborated with other musicians on song writing and recording, including, some material with Jack.
Jack Sarvis: I played in a band on the weekends and continued to write music.
There is also a single out these days called 'Like a Vine' / 'Deception by you Danny' and also a compilation called 'The Nashville Sessions'. Would you be so kind to tell us about this two things?
Dennis Cheplick: As I mentioned earlier, I went to Nashville where I spent all of 1974. As I soon found out, the Nashville scene was very "lyric oriented", whereas I was very "music oriented" so "Like A Vine" and Deception" were my attempt at more "in depth song writing. "The Nashville Sessions" is a compilation of of the two sessions I did at castle Recording Studio's there, including the above mentioned songs plus a few others, some of which were written around the time of the "Backbone" session. In fact, one of the songs, "The Moment I Met You" was co-written with Jack (We had considered recording it for "Backbone", but passed). There are also four "Backbone" songs on the compilation with alternative vocals, meaning I over dubbed stronger vocals to these songs because I think the vocals on the originals are too weak.
Do you still own the original master tapes of your LP?
Dennis Cheplick: Yes but unfortunately they are unplayable. The 'Time-Lag' release was made directly from an original "Backbone" album I still had.
What occupies your life these days?
Dennis Cheplick: Music continues to occupy my life. Over the past two decades I've recorded many
instrumental tracks (two sessions were at Soundtrack Studios in N.Y.C.), some of which have been used on TV and radio (as background music). A song Jack and I recently wrote and recorded, "Going Green", is currently being re-mixed at Soundtrack in N.Y. to be pitched, hopefully, to current recording artists in the country/Pop genre. I currently live with my wife, Angie, in a small rural area of western Pa. U.S.A Check my videos on you tube, "Dennis Cheplick" 5 & 10 Films.
Jack Sarvis: I retired from Delphi Corporation after 30 years and now am pursuing my music full time.
Writing songs, some of which Dennis and I have written together. I have a song on You Tube, Jack Sarvis "You Are A Keeper".
Thank you very much for participating in this interview. We are really happy to share your story. Would you like to send a message to It's Psychedelic Baby readers?
Dennis Cheplick: Thanks for your interest in our music. "Better Late Than Never" as the saying goes.