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Mack, the Coffee Man

Indie Rock
Lancaster, Pennsylvania, USA

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.“


“Lancaster County PA has a burgeoning music scene centered around The Cameleon Club and Angry Young and Poor (a punk store), along with a few small coffeehouses. One of the great indie rock bands that have come about from this thriving music community is Mack, the Coffeeman, taking their name from a sign on the side of a warehouse in downtown Lancaster they have established themselves as a Lancaster PA rock and roll band. Pulling elements of the “beautiful” music like Built to Spill, and the emotional elements of bands like Burning Airlines they grey the already blurry area between indie rock and emo. MTCM is wrapping up a fall promoting their new album, a release of two EP's they recorded, on Burnt Toast Vinyl. People know me as a punk rock hardcore kid, but when it comes down to technical beauty, or just flat out good music, few do it better than Mack the Coffeeman.

Jeff Royer plays bass for Mack the Coffeeman, and handles internet stuff like the website and e-mail newsletters, so he answered these questions.

The standard first question for interviews are who's in the band, and who plays what…so why break with tradition? Who is Mack, the Coffee Man?

Mack, the Coffee Man is:
Keith Wilson: vocals, guitar
Jeremy Bentley: drums
Jeff Royer: bass
John Donohue: guitar

I'll skip the where did you get the band name from, because I know Mack, the Coffeeman is the name of a warehouse in Lancaster City, and I'll move onto a question about the new album Light Pours Through / The Sun Has Been Cut Out From the Sky….It's a split ep with yourselves…was that a concept, or just a financial decision?

We had originally planned to release two separate EP's, one a more radio-friendly disc for clubs, radio stations, etc., and the other as a little less-accessible yet still quality recording partly due to financial difficulties, partly due to a very nice offer from Scott Hatch at Burnt Toast Vinyl, we decided to combine the two I'm glad we did. I think that we were getting a little ahead of ourselves by trying to release two ep's simultaneously.

How did recording Light Pours Through differ from The Sun Has Been Cut…and the older recordings?

Well, Light Pours Through was recorded by Jay Sorentino of Suddenly, Tammy! fame (Warner Bros. Records). He has a great ear and a working knowledge of the recording process. He helped out both in recording and producing to a certain extent. The Sun Has Been Cut was recorded at Lebanon Valley College by Galen Kraybill of the late great Jawbone Hill. That was where we recorded our first CD, Every Blessing Tonight. That was definitely a little rougher recording job, but Galen got some amazing results.

Mack the Coffeeman seems to be stuck in the middle of two styles…classic indie rock in the vien of Pedro the Lion, or Built to Spill, and hard emo a la Get Up Kids, or Hot Water Music, how do you classify MTCM?

Well, “emo” is a dangerous word, so I'm not going to use it. Our music is emotional, sure. Melodic, maybe careful. I'm not sure. it sounds so egotistical to say “well, i can't really describe what we sound like. We kind of have our own thing going on.” I mean, every band says that sooner or later. I think that the gray area between bands like Built to Spill/Radiohead on one side and Burning Airlines/Jimmy Eat World on the other is a nice place to be. Maybe you answered the questions best in your description. Stuck in the middle. Hmmm. I really dodged that question, didn't I?

How does a typical Mack the Coffeeman song come about?

“Typical” as of late has been a musical theme introduced by one of us at a practice, with the other members joining in as it takes shape. Lyrically, Keith is this endless source. He can open his journal and just sort of pick out something that has been revolving on paper and set it up within the framework of the song.

The band has been associated with Burnt Toast for a long time, are there plans to move on to a “bigger” label?

I couldn't say that we're not interested in pursuing something larger. Burnt Toast Vinyl is a very cozy home. Scott Hatch's generosity and selflessness is amazing. Who knows, two years from now this label might be the “place to be.” We haven't talked too specifically with any one label at this point. A few co-ops have been offered, which may be the starting point to something larger. But I think we all agree that anything we do with another label will be co-released by Burnt Toast Vinyl.

What song in your repertoire do you enjoy playing the most?

As for me personally, I still get chills playing Years. Some of the new songs that are candidates for the new album are kind of eclipsing our older material right now, but out of songs that are in our current set, it would have to be Years.

What is an ideal show for you to play in or just go see?

I'm going to take the easy way out. Shows I don't like to play: shows in a bar playing for three drunk guys; shows at a youth-group lock-in where we are competing with volleyball for the kids' attention; shows in a bar playing for the bartender. And even then, we usually manage to have a good time.

Are there any big shows or events you want to shamelessly self-promote, or did I forget to ask any questions?

Philadelphia Music Conference in January 21-23
Hoping to begin recording new album in Spring
Taking a break during November for several reasons
Back full-force in mid-December

Thanks a lot for the questions, it was fun answering take it easy, and send us a copy of the article.

Thanks again,
Mack, the Coffee Man

I would highly suggest seeing Mack the Coffeeman live, there is an intensity from the guys that really bring the audience into the world of their music. If you like bands like Jimmy Eat World, Built to Spill, etc, I'd suggest getting the new Mack the Coffeeman album, and if you can find it, pick up Jawbone Hill's Grind CD. They were another incredible rock band from the Lancaster area.

Don't forget to check out the MTCM webpage found at


1994 Shush Redbeard Records
1996 Flawless Thieving Petal
1998 Every Blessing Tonight
2000 Light Pours Through / The Sun Has Been Cut Out From the Sky Burnt Toast Vinyl


1994 Redbeard Records

Keith Wilson – Voice, guitar
Denison Whitmer – Guitar
Jeff Royer – Bass
Jeremy Bentley – Drums

  1. Rue
  2. Thursday's Song
  3. Greek to Me
  4. Shush
  5. 2 Sugars Please

Flawless Thieving Petal

1996 Independent

  1. Flawless
  2. Shut Up Daffodil
  3. Soak
  4. Shush
  5. Hercules

Every Blessing Tonight

1998 Independent

Jeff Royer: Vocals
Keith Wilson: Guitar
Jeremy Bentley: Drums?

  1. October's Anthem
  2. 1996
  3. Superpowers in the 4 Corners
  4. Florida
  5. Dragnet
  6. Space
  7. Clasp a Whisper

Light Pours Through / The Sun Has Been Cut Out From the Sky

2000 Burnt Toast Vinyl

  1. On the Road
  2. Bob Dylan
  3. Every Human Here
  4. The Bomb
  5. Years
  6. Light Pours Through
  7. Confounded
  8. Ninety-Eight
  9. The Bomb (part II)
  10. Pocono Moon
  11. Burnt by the Same Sun
  12. Estella