Movies With Heroes
Interview and photos by: Tom Bastian (Decapolis Music Editor

Movies with Heroes @ YIP ROC
Movies with Heroes is a 4 piece indie rock band from Lancaster Pennsylvania. They are not new-comers to the music scene either. Formerly Mack, the Coffeeman, this band has been playing for over 7 years now. They have seen bands come and go from this music scene and have stood the test of time. The band has recently gone through a few changes, some trying times and are now getting set to release a brand new EP which will be followed shortly by a 2 week tour to some states the band has yet to visit. Read on to get updated on whats been going on with Movies with Heroes and be sure to pick up their brand new EP soon to be released!


Tom: For those of our readers who may not be familiar with Movies With Heroes can you introduce yourselves? Name/Instrument.

Keith Wilson : lead vocals, guitar
Jeff Royer : bass guitar, vocals
John Donohue : guitar, vocals
Jeremy E. Bentley : drums

Tom: Aside from being in Movies with Heroes what else occupies your time. Day jobs, hobbies, etc.

Keith: I am a woodworker and I enjoy hiking, camping and reading and I used to own many large snakes and still maintain an interest in reptiles.

Jeff: I am an editor at an entertainment magazine in Lancaster. I am a big reader, but I devote most of my free time to wrestling Keith's large reptiles (mostly alligators).

John: I mostly think about music, when I'm not running from anacondas. I also play acoustic music in another band.

Jeremy: I work in graphic arts, pertaining to advertising, literature and brochures, with a touch of web design, both professional and hobby-oriented (the web design). I play guitar and watch movies for fun, and I also keep Keith's reptiles at bay with cattle prods.

Tom: Could you give us a little background on the band? When you got started. Where you're from? Any other significant things…such as a previous band name?


Movies With Heroes @ YIP ROC
Jeremy: Well, Keith, Jeff and I started Mack, the Coffee Man (our original band name) about late fall-winter of 1994... we played live very minimally as we experimented with many different styles, and released our first demo tape "Shush" with the only five songs we had, the fall of 1994. We recorded this tape with Denison Witmer as a fourth member (guitarist), who played guitar in Mack for a while before he went off to pursue solo work. We then played as a three-piece band (releasing "Every Blessing Tonight" in 1997, and "Light Pours Through" in early 1999) until we added John as an extra guitarist, who played his first show with us in August of 1999. Since then, we have changed the name of the band to Movies With Heroes, to accommodate the new membership of the band. Keith is originally from New Jersey, but moved to Lancaster in 1992. Jeff and I have lived in Lancaster for our entire schooling life, and John grew up in New Milford PA, attending Lebanon Valley College in Annville PA, and moving into Lancaster city the summer of 2000.

Tom: So you guys have a new album coming out. What is the title and when is the release date.

Keith: It is called "The Slate" and the official release date is Tuesday, April 3rd. But it can be pre-ordered through our website (www.movieswithheroes.com).

Tom: Will this album be available in stores, online, etc.

Keith: It will be available in record shops in the Lancaster area, from our website and others, and hopefully more and more in various locations far beyond Lancaster. It will also be available for credit card purchase at www.burnttoastvinyl.com

Tom: Will the album be released on Burnt Toast Vinyl, or will "The Slate" be an independent release?

Keith: While it will be sold at Burnt Toast Vinyl's site, it will be released independently.

Tom: How would you describe the musical journey of Movies with Heroes? Where do you think you guys started out, where do you think your at now and where can we expect the band to be heading?


Movies With Heroes
@ Chameleon Club
Keith: When we started writing music together, we did not know each other very well at all. We certainly didn't know each other well as musicians. We had a major musical identity crisis. For a few years our songs were very random compositions with difficult to follow changes and juxtapositions of styles. We then became better friends and learned to understand each other's musical leanings and instincts. The writing then became more natural and less forced. In some ways, I think we have explored and are still learning this process again with the addition of John to the mix. I think, at this point, we have definitely settled into what we feel is our "sound." I don't know that I could really describe it. As far as where we are headed musically...who knows. As far as where we are headed as a band, we feel confident that we are headed somewhere and we are committed to working hard together to get there. We have definitely begun splitting the band into more distinct occupations, such as tour booking, CD promotion, etc.

Tom: How does the new release compare to your previous full length?

Jeff: I feel that we began to explore a new musical theme during the writing of some tracks on "Light Pours Through" (the full length) that we've only really started to tap into during the past few months. We also released a split CD in between the full length and the new EP, which kind of helps the progression to make more sense. I think that the songs on the new EP, "The Slate", were more thought out as far as song structure. We also had the luxury to explore new instrumentation and develop more solid melody lines. Summary: it's better.

Tom: Why the EP and are there plans in the near future for a new full length?

Jeff: Money and time. We were pretty anxious to have an official release as Movies With Heroes, but we didn't have the money to afford spending more time in the studio. Rather than trying to choke a full-length album out of a limited pool of songs and a limited number of hours in the studio, we decided to release an EP. We are hoping to start recording for the next full length by the end of the year. It all depends on how many songs are ready to go and who or what if anything is helping to fund the recording.

Tom: You guys are getting ready for a tour. Can you tell us a little bit about that? Where it's going to take you, and what do you guys expect from the tour.

Jeremy: Well, we have put a lot of effort into booking this tour thus far, and hope that it will turn out to be somewhat successful. Over the years, we have always gotten various emails from fans in different states who may have had seen us at national festivals like Cornerstone and Purple Door, but live in states which we have never visited as a band. We faced some tough decisions as a band this past winter, the result of which brought us into a more focused state of working a lot harder than we ever have before. The main result of this time has been our desire to really get out there and play for people who have asked us about touring over the years. So, we are very excited to get on the road and meet all our friends from other states. This spring tour will span 16 days (2 weeks), and cover PA, VA, NC (hopefully), TN, MO, IN, IL, and OH. Our complete listing can be found on www.movieswithheroes.com.

Tom: You guys are scheduled to play this years Decapolis Stage at Cornerstone 2001. For those folks who are at the festival and come to check out your set. What can they expect? How would you describe a Movies with Heroes live show? Jeremy: Well, we expect to put every ounce of energy possible in our given time period. I think we are looking at a 30 minute set this year, which will be a little longer than one of last year's sets (we played two 20 minute sets), but we pride ourselves on giving our audience all the possible energy and excitement that we can pack into a set.

Tom: If you guys were to name one band that has a major or at least some influence on some of the new music your currently writing, or have wrote for the new release what band would you give props to?

Jeff: I'm not sure that one band has had a major impact on what we have written recently. Part of what we think makes us original is that we all like totally different music, with a few great exceptions. We've all been gaga over Built To Spill's "Keep it Like a Secret" and Radiohead's "Kid A". And Bjork's new album "Selmasongs." We're not sure how we feel about the goose that she wore to the Oscars, though.

Tom: You guys live in an area that I see a good amount of kids on Decapolis wishing they lived in. What do you think it is about PA, specifically Eastern/Central PA that makes the music scene special? Or do you think it's over rated?


Movies With Heroes
@ Chameleon Club
Jeff: Although there are definitely some great bands in the area right now (Ran Away to Sea, All American Radio, etc.), it doesn't seem like Lancaster is really a champion of independent music. The biggest drawing act in our hometown is an AC/DC tribute band. BUT...The good thing about the area is that promoters are able and willing to bring in many great bands from outside the area to keep music lovers content. So I can understand that people may want to move here, since it is sort of a port for touring bands (especially Philly). Just don't expect your local bar band to have ever heard of Sunny Day Real Estate.

Tom: What do you see as being the toughest part about being in a band?

Jeremy: I would have to say one of the toughest things is trying to stay afloat among so many other bands that are out there trying to make it as well. It used to be that your brother's uncle's cousin was in this great band that you would go check out all the time, but now, it seems like everyone AND his brother are in bands. So there are definitely a lot of bands out there, which means two things: There is a lot more vitality in recent years in the independent music scene, but there is also a lot of frustration because of the volume of acts. It is sometimes hard work to keep going at it in such a large community, but we have made it this far, so we hope to keep pushing forward.

Tom: What do you feel is the most rewarding part?

Jeremy: I think we can all agree that one of the most rewarding things is always hearing from at least one new person about how excited he or she is about the music we are making, and having those people stay excited after the initial jubilation. We can also safely say that we never try to make music that purposefully sounds like any other band, and although we draw on our different personal influences, the product is always something that we are proud of, and is something that we feel is as original and un-contrived as we can make it.

Tom: Thanks for taking the time to do this interview. Anything else you would like to say to our readers?

Jeff: Yes. We have the greatest street team. Ever. Thanks to everyone, and we can't wait to see you on the tour. And thank you, Decapolis.

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