Music From Another Room is a band of brotherly love, literally. The
group is rooted in brothers Steve (vocals, guitar) and Alex (lead
guitar) Foht, who formed MFAR in 2007 with bassist Steve Pearson
and drummer Ron Dunn. Their ambient power pop can be seen as landing
somewhere in the middle of Jimmy Eat World and the Foo Fighters.
Arson, a very catchy 4-track EP released in January 2009, featured
skyscraper guitars and soaring vocals on tracks like “Arsonist’s
Daughter” and “Echoes, Repeating.” The more conventional single “Reason
To Believe” saw significant radio play on WXDX as well as various
After collaborating with producer and Punchline frontman Steve Soboslai in the Summer of 2011, MFAR entered Studio 344 with producers Brette Ciammarra and Glenn Campagna to record their first full length, Departures. Fans have already gotten a taste of the album on the MFAR official and social network pages with the gut-punch single “Tell Me.”
This Saturday, March 7, Music From Another Room will host the CD release party of Departures at Stage AE. The Pittsburgh Scene was able to sit down with Steve Foht to discuss the band itself and the city that birthed it.
----Q & A ---
Your live show is very energetic and naturally just a really good
time, as witnessed by this writer about a month ago at a Howlers show.
Does the energy of both the interplay between bandmates and the crowd
itself have an effect on the outcome of the show?
Steve Foht: Oh most definitely! We go into each show thinking about how we can
break down barriers within the band itself and then, in turn, the
audience. Once you've got the crowd dancing, or singing, or laughing, it
all translates into this amazing energy, which really just feeds on
The bands roots lie in being a Juliana Theory tribute act. Was the
decision to write original music just a natural thing that occurred
over time? Would you say that beginning without the pressure of writing
original material served as an advantage to forming a strong rhythmic
bond between the members early on?
Steve: The decision to write original music actually is partially due to The
Juliana Theory themselves. Over the years, we've received support and
encouragement from all of the different band members, but the first time
Chad [Alan] came out to see us, he told us that we were playing the
songs just as well as they could have and that we would be missing out
if we didn't really try to branch out into original material. Between
that and my natural itch to write, we started to explore some songs of
our own. As for the bond among the band- Ronnie and I have been playing
music together for almost a decade now, and Alex and I grew up playing
music together. Pearson is just a naturally tight musician, so I'm not
sure there was any advantage in locking in as a band... it more so
afforded us enough time to really find our own voice while learning the
How did teaming up and brainstorming for Departures with Punchline frontman Steve Soboslai come about, and what did that process entail?
Steve: Steve Soboslai actually approached Alex over a year ago about working
together. He has a passion for the Pittsburgh music scene and really
wanted to help develop talented new bands. We bonded pretty immediately
over our passion for polished, concise pop music, and he invited us into
his little world at Store Express to help further refine the batch of
songs we had on hand. We logged a lot of hours and sweat in that cramped
little room, but Steve did help us capture some really special moments
in our songs by the end. I don't want to give away too much of the
magic, but he certainly knows how to help coax the best parts out of a
How was the recording and working with producers Brette Ciammarra and Glenn Campagna on Departures in comparison to the time spent on the Arson EP?
Steve: The two recordings are worlds apart in terms of experience. ARSON was
completely done by the band, and it only began to show a glimmer of the
pop music we were itching to make. Making DEPARTURES was actually a
pretty long process... initially, we intended to make another EP. We
tried out a first producer, but the sessions were really forced and came
out sounding rushed and really haphazard. We wrote another couple of
songs and then attempted to do it ourselves again, but when once we saw
how densely layered the songs were going to be, we realized that we were
in over our heads. Enter Brette Ciammarra: wunderkind behind the board,
and all around amazing guy. Pearson knew him from some prior work, and
he was eager to start working with more pop-centric music. He made the
process of recording enjoyable for the first time I can think of in my
career, and with that I was able to relax and really concentrate on
performing for once. I think the whole band would agree that he brought
an ease to the process without sacrificing excellence or attention to
detail. As for Glenn: he oversaw the first half of the sessions, helping
us add great creative flairs here and there and think outside the box
when an idea got a bit lost in the mix. Overall, it was a completely
different experience from ARSON as we could finally focus on just being
musicians, and not musicians, engineers, and producers all at once.
Departures presents the idea of leaving things behind as
being more of an adventure into the unknown than a longing for the past.
Can you elaborate on that and some of the other themes the album deals
Steve: We were all sitting around thinking about what captured the energy of
our record one night, and it immediate struck us that we felt like this
record is like the adrenaline rush you get from being slammed into your
seat right before your plane takes to the sky! A lot of the best pop
music on the planet can convey that combination of feelings... the
anxiety, the excitement, and most of all the resolve to go somewhere
without a safety net. And it's not really dealt with explicitly other
than the title track, but on songs like “Tell Me” or “Voice of the
Night”, you certainly get elements of the head rush you get from love or
defiance. And the album does have moments on it where we falter and
look back on what's going by the way-side, like on “Silence is Golden”
where we explored saying goodbye to a love in a bittersweet way. The
record really explores the idea of departing from pretty much every
angle except for death, come to think of it!
Does the city of Pittsburgh itself, or perhaps a certain scene, have an influence on the music that Music From Another Room creates?
Steve: I think that actually plays into the idea of Departures as well,
really. We started as a tribute act to a band based out of Greensburg,
and we've grown from there. Over the years, I feel like our music has
developed into something more universal, and that's probably due to all
of us growing to appreciate the world outside of Pittsburgh a bit more. I
don't think anyone ever stops being a Pittsburgher when they've been
born and raised here, but I think that as a band we crave to see what
the world outside of Pittsburgh holds for us.
You’ve shown an appreciation for sleek pop music in your cover of
Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream.” Has the group been working on any other
surprising covers? An Eddie Money number, perhaps?
Steve: We'll actually be performing strictly Hall and Oates covers once this
interview is complete! In all seriousness, though, we've played around
with an Omarion cover a bit, and we just hashed out a tune from The
Starting Line the other night. We're all keen listeners to pop radio,
and if a song is a great pop song, it's usually pretty easy for us to
make it translate... so there will likely be plenty more pop-songs in
Now that Departures is finished and the album release is just around the corner, what plans does MFAR have for the near future?
We intend to get on a plane! (Seriously- put Alex on a plane... that
boy needs a vacation!) We want to tour as much of the world as will have
us and connect with as many people as possible... music is a shared
experience as far as I'm concerned, and I want to share this record with
This Saturday, March 7, join Music From Another Room for the CD release party of Departures
at Stage AE, along with guests Crash City, My Cardboard Spaceship
Adventure, June Divided, Car Party, and The Greater The Risk. Doors at
For more information on Music From Another Room, visit mfarrocks.com or facebook.com/musicfromanotherroom.