By Calli Ferguson | July 16, 2022
“We really thought it was important to play the iconic New York circuit and work our way up.”
Quarters of Change is a rock group comprised of four New York City locals and best friends whose high school band seems to have always been destined to grow into something bigger. Ben Acker, Attila Anrather, Jasper Harris, and Ben Roter have spent the past two years not only building their first album, but also tackling the “where’s-where” of New York City’s live music scene, one venue at a time. After seeing them perform for a packed Bowery Ballroom on a hot Friday evening in July, it’s pretty evident why.
Before their show, dozens of fans had already lined up along Delancey Street in 80 degree heat. In the busy whirlwind of pre-show madness, the gang greeted us with all smiles (Roter, unironically milking one of those bear-shaped bottles of honey). They immediately seemed like brothers, scooping us up into the charming familial energy.
We met up with Attila, Jasper, and both Bens outside Bowery Ballroom to chat about their craft, their friendship, the New York City music venue pipeline, their upcoming album, and they answered some questions for the groovement:
Let’s start with your story. How did you guys meet and start playing music together?
We’ve been friends for a very long time. Basically our whole lives. We all grew up in the city together in downtown Manhattan. And we all got into the same high school. We were all best friends, so it just sort of happened. (Attila) played the drums, (Jasper) played guitar, (Ben A) played guitar, I (Ben R) sang so we were like, let’s just… rock!
So what came first, the music or the friendship?
*Simultaneously* The friendship. For sure.
And what were you guys listening to at the time? Were you all into the same kind of stuff?
No no, far from it. But we all liked the Chili Peppers!
Okay! Well that’s a good common ground!
Yeah, that was our common ground.
Attila: And then a lot of metal, Tool;
Jasper: A lot of electronic stuff, Tame Impala;
Ben R: A lot of Revivalist stuff, Strokes
Ben A: And I’m a big 80’s rock guy.
So how does that make its way into what we know today as Quarters of Change?
Ben R: I mean honestly, we show each other a lot of music. And at one point or another, one of us will be like, damn that’s fire. And we’ll all be in the room and kind of be like, oh that vibe for this could go really good. And then you just try it, and if it works, awesome; if it doesn’t, you try another one! We learn a lot from each other.
I think inevitably, everyone has their own base influences and feels that’s sort of the correct way to go. And we don’t–or we try not to tell each other how to do everyone’s job. So it kind of just shows up like that. Cause it’s not like I am gonna be telling Attila not to try and do some Tool-ish type drum pattern.
But yeah… we definitely all kind of put–I mean, as much as our influences show–we all put everything aside to make what is us, us. So we’re not always fighting.
The song comes before the part which is very reflective in our music.
It is, love that. Can you guys tell us about the first live show you played together?
It was probably at The Bitter End or something. Classic right of passage. We had the second biggest show in Bitter End history! Or at least that’s what they told us– could have been full of shit. We really thought it was important to play the iconic New York circuit and work our way up. So we graduated from Bitter End to Rockwood, then to Knitting Factory, Mercury Lounge, and now we’re here. We did Irving too– that was fun.
And if you could play any New York City venue…
Ben A: Madison Square Garden.
Yeah? That’s the dream venue?
I don’t know…
Terminal 5 would be sick.
Yeah, Elsewhere would be really cool.
No, definitely Brooklyn Steel.
Yeah, Brooklyn Steel.
Okay okay, what about in the whole world?
Ben A: Madison Square Garden. O2 Arena.
Dude anything. Like fuck I mean… We’re just tryna play!
And how are we feeling about Bowery Ballroom?
Good. Fantastic. It’s our second time– we’ve been here before. They were great. But now we came back to sell it out. Came back with a vengeance!
There you go! Okay, bring yourselves back to that first show you played at The Bitter End. You’re looking at your younger selves… What do you think they’d say if they could see you now about to go on?
Ben A: They’d say, “Yeah, we knew that was gonna happen. They’d know.”
Jasper: Younger me would be like, “Damn.” I mean that’s all I ever wanted.
Ben R: All the huddles before every show were always like: “This is what we’re doing. Let’s go for it.”
Do you guys have any sort of pre-show ritual?
I mean we–you know, we do a little huddle. A little love circle. Tell each other we love each other. Haha. But yeah, we do.
Love it. What about post show?
There’s an after party– do you wanna come?
Yeah, pull up.
Amazing, and what can you tell us about your first album?
We’ve been writing it for the last two years. We had the opening goal of releasing it with a major label, but we weren’t signed while we were writing the first half of it. We got signed halfway through. So we ditched half of it and rewrote a bunch of new stuff. It’s like an amalgam of… I’d say our lives over the last, like, three years. And trying to summarize everything that we’re going through.
We’re so excited for you guys.
After the interview, thank you’s and honking horns on the busy intersection we headed back to the Bowery Ballroom greenroom. When the lights finally came up on the Quarters of Change set, energy that just an hour ago read like playful camaraderie was channeled into this passionate performance of musicians creating in a way they were clearly meant to. The music started: T-Love, T-Love, T-Love… smooth as honey. As the buzzy crowd jammed to catchy riffs and belted the lyrics back towards the stage, we found ourselves wishing we could fast forward several years, talk to the guys again, and say… “Okay so now take yourself back to that Bitter End show. Or that moment outside Bowery Ballroom.” But the truth is, these young men know very well what they’re after.
At one point in the middle of the set, the strums of electric guitars still vibrating in the Bowery Ballroom walls and filling the chests of everyone between them, Roter screams from what seems to be a very cathartic place:
“Can you feel that? Can you feel that?”
“This is the start!”
📸: shot by Gaby Garcia