Published: 4/7/2012


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 college stations.

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 itself.


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 genre.


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 song!


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 with?

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 our future!

 

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 the world!

-----


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 7.

For more information on Music From Another Room, visit mfarrocks.com or facebook.com/musicfromanotherroom.

 
 

Comments: