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Quarters of Change: Lifelong Friends Turned Rockstars

Written and Interviewed by Veronica Anaya

Photography and Production Managed by Mark Bluemle

PA: Veronica Anaya, Gabby Sirianni

From lifelong friends who would practice in the basement of their high school to rock stars touring the country alongside incredible names, Quarters of Change, the alternative rock band from New York City, have made a name for themselves. The band consists of members Ben Roter (vocals, guitar, and lyrics), Ben Acker (guitar, bass, synth), Attila Anrather (drums), and Jasper Harris (guitar, bass, synth). They formed in 2017, initially as a cover band in high school, with Acker joining in 2019 to finalize the lineup. Since then, they have released multiple EPs and an album, Into the Rift, with their newest project, Portraits, set to be released in January 2024. Their influences fluctuate between Prince, The Strokes, The Who, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Police, but they do not shy away from experimentation as they continue to develop as a band and as artists.

We talked with Quarters of Change and discussed their upcoming album, Portraits, performing in NYC, and so much more.

How did everyone meet?

[Ben Acker]: Jasper and I met in pre-school, the rest of us met in 8th grade.

[Ben Roter]: We all joined the music program at our high school, and we were all best friends, so we decided to be a band.

Where did the name Quarters of Change come from?

[BR]: We have an affinity for money.

Most of you have been playing together for a while, has the dynamic changed since?

[BR]: It’s changed for the better. We’re all continuing to grow as musicians. It doesn't feel like our personal dynamic has changed, though. We’re still best friends.

[BA]: Our writing process is super different. At the root it’s the same, but it’s more efficient now.

What is it like growing a band in NYC?

[BA]: It’s challenging. When we were in high school, rock was not a thing. I wasn’t even listening to rock at that time.

Do you think being from NYC and the music culture that is here, impacted or affected your band in any way?

[BA]: It’s developed our healthy sense of competition. We’re not the only people in this city, certainly not the only people trying to do music. Definitely different from being a band in a suburban garage.

[BR]: Cutting through this giant metropolis has been challenging, it’s driven and pushed us.

You are touring and traveling a lot as a band, what is it like when you perform or come back to NYC?

[BR]: That’s homecoming, you know. Nothing like it. But, my favorite thing about being from the city and touring outside of it, is then coming back to the city where you become one of 8 million again - that anonymity can be nice.

[BA]: Yet we still have our biggest shows here. That’s always reassuring. Especially because people are nicer everywhere outside New York.

What have been your greatest moments in your musical career?

[BA]: Probably when we signed. It made it all feel real. The music has always been real, but to be able to do this, actually do this, it didn’t feel real until we signed.

[BR]: When we were on our first tour support with Bad Suns, driving through California. I was listening to The Smiths, there were all these snow-capped mountains, and I thought to myself - “You know what? Life is pretty cool. I like it a lot..I’m gonna keep doing it.”

[Jasper Harris]: Some of the earlier shows felt bigger than the shows we play now. Some of those moments before getting on stage for not that many people were pretty exhilarating, feeling those butterflies. Pretty crazy shit. You get that once or twice –

[BR]: – In your life.

[Attila Anrather]: They’re all great.

Do you like the smaller shows you performed at the beginning of your band's journey or your bigger shows?

[BR]: There was something more nerve wracking about the intimate, smaller shows. Feels more personal. My stage fright has gotten better as we’ve moved to bigger rooms. In high school, my hands would shake if I had to speak in front of class. I had such trouble doing that in front of smaller crowds. As the crowd gets bigger, it feels like more of a dream and easier to do as a result. I can’t comprehend how many people are in the audience.

[JH]: I completely feel that. I was definitely more nervous when you can actually distinguish faces.

[BR]: – And you can hear little conversations.

[JH]: It used to be mostly family, and performing in front of family is so nerve wracking. As opposed to tons of strangers, which doesn't freak me out at all.

What is your favorite part of a show day?

[BA]: The show.

What is your dream venue to perform at? Why?

[BR]: I really wanna play Red Rocks. Or the Sphere in Las Vegas. That shit looks fucking dope.

[AA]: I’m gonna go with the Sphere.

[BA]: The O2 Arena.

[JH]: Wherever Glastonbury is.

If you could play swap instruments with another member, what would you play?

[BA]: Drums.

[JH]: Drums.

[BR]: Drums.

[AA]: Drums.

Your process for Portraits was an interesting one, as you did it all while in a cabin for two weeks, how did that change your musician process or even the way the song came out?

[BR]: Yeah, we decided to go all out for it. We decided to write everything in a live room. Play it, and write it like that. We made demos for everything, and then went back into the studio and recorded everything again. It had to hit in a live room before it hit on a recording. We’ll definitely take the lessons we learned from it into account, but I don’t really like to do anything twice.

Is there a meaning behind your artwork/ creative direction for your upcoming album?

[AA]: We really focused on capturing the members of the band for this project. Both in a literal sense of pictures of each member on the single covers, the group picture of the band for the album cover, but also the drawings on the covers that represent us as people in a more abstract sense.

Has your musician influence changed from the music you made in 2018 to the music you make now?

[BR]: We were 18 and now we’re 23, so take from that what you will.

[BA]: It’s better.

A lot of your music is vulnerable and written from personal experience, what does the writing process look like? Does it ever get too difficult to write and be vulnerable?

[BR]: When you have inspiration, it’s easy. When you don’t it’s harder. For this project, writing in the live room and crafting the lyrics to fit the live performance vibe was definitely a new process. There are a lot of different writing tips and tools that I’ve added to my arsenal. But a lot of it is closing my eyes, letting a stream of consciousness come out, and revising that stream of consciousness.

Are there any of your older songs that you would want to revisit and revamp to your sound now?

[BR]: Yeah, we did. Depression II on the new project.

Which song you are lyrically/ instrumentally proud of?

[BR]: Keep My Blood is my favorite.

[JH]: Turn It Away.

[BA]: I’d say Turn It Away as well.

What do you want people to get out of Quarters of Change?

[BA]: You can do anything you want. If you want it bad enough.

The beloved Quarters of Change are ending their fall/winter tour on Saturday, December 9th, at Webster Hall performing, alongside The Backfires, another NYC-based rock group, and Laundry Day, a band that happens to have gone to the same high school as Quarters of Change.

Get your tickets before you miss out on the show of the year!!

Written and Interviewed by Veronica Anaya

Photography and Production Managed by Mark Bluemle

PA: Veronica Anaya, Gabby Sirianni

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