Turning Quarters into Crescendos
Exploring Musical Currency with NYC’s Quarters of Change
Story: Jennifer Rolf
Photo: Cory Weaver
Quarters of Change (Ben Acker, guitar, multi-instrumentalist; Attila Anrather, drums; Jasper Harris, guitar; Ben Roter, lead vocals) is an indie-rock band made up of four 20-something friends from New York City who met when they were young and grew up exploring the sights and sounds of the city together. They embody the look and feel of a post-punk revival band that was playing the clubs of NYC in the early aughts while they were still getting their bearings in life. With two albums under their belt and a strong following, it seems the only way for them to go is up. We caught up with them for a quick chat ahead of their first performance at Austin City Limits Music Festival.
BTT: You guys are from New York. Are you from the city originally?
Ben Acker: Yes, and we’re all still there. The three of us are from downtown Manhattan, and Ben grew up in Brooklyn as well, as did Attila.
BTT: What does it mean for your musical career to do a festival like this, and how does it feel to get to play ACL?
Ben Roter: It’s another achievement, for sure. Like it’s a real moment that I’m proud of all of us for having reached.
Ben A.: Yeah, it’s definitely a landmark. A dream-come-true kind of moment. We began writing our first album and signed just over two years ago, so to think how much has happened in those two years is pretty crazy.
BTT: Especially coming out of the pandemic year, you had a lot of challenges to face, I’m sure.
Ben A.: Yeah, we’re really lucky. It seems like a lot of bands right before Covid, who were doing really well with their touring, got a wrench really thrown in their operation. And we hadn’t really started touring yet, let alone festivals, so we were really forced to do a lot more on the digital side of things. We sort of built from there and then got to start touring. So timing was super lucky for us.
BTT: What would you say are some of your biggest influences, musically speaking?
Jasper Harris: Definitely the Red Hot Chili Peppers was a big one starting out for us as a band.
Ben A.: These days, there’s a much bigger range, I would say.
Jasper: It’s always been a very eclectic mix.
Ben A.: Yeah, eclectic rock mix. Some Deftones. Jeff Buckley, Pantera…
Jasper: Jimi Hendrix.
Ben A.: All over the place. We have a lot of different musical influences, which I feel like is kind of wild. Like, our stuff has a lot of different sounds—we’re not just a one sound kind of band.
Ben R.: For me personally, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Strokes, Interpol—like that 2000 scene, Moldy Peaches, all of them are so influential. I just liked seeing the way that you can play music and do that for a living too; on top of that, creating, amazing art. That inspired my whole childhood.
BTT: So reading those stories about bands like Metric, TV on the Radio, etc., they were all living in Brooklyn in this shared warehouse space.
Ben R.: After 9/11, all those places became free, and it was such a rush of artists in the city and such an acceptance of the scene, but now it’s so expensive. It’s there, but it’s different for sure.
BTT: So you guys are kind of like the post-post revival scene, in a way.
Ben A.: I guess so. We’d be honored to be.
BTT: How do you deal with setbacks?
Ben R.: I’d say like I said in an interview earlier, but view everything in a year, don’t view it in the moment because so much stuff’s gonna happen that you just have no control over. And there’s gonna be some weeks when you feel like you’re on top of the world, and some weeks where you feel like you’ve completely failed at everything. But if you’re able to just take a step back and assess where you’ve gone and come from, like 365 days, that’s kind of what I’ve been trying to do. And it’s helped me be a lot more even-keeled and get over any setbacks that we might have.
Ben A.: There’s a lot of days where you’re going to be working your ass off and you’re not going to feel like there’s anything coming of it and that’s okay, like you work your ass off and that day, you’re a little bit better and you do the same thing the next day and you’re a little bit better and then the next thing you know, it happens.