Rock band Quarters of Change on its ever-evolving sound

Members of rock band Quarters of Change talk about their beginning as a group and how they used the pandemic to their advantage.


(Courtesy of Quarters of Change)

Julia Diorio, Contributing Writer

Composed of four tight-knit, born-and-raised New Yorkers — Ben Acker, Attila Anrather, Jasper Harris and Ben Roter — the band Quarters of Change masters a modern revival of the rock sound from the ’90s and early 2000s. It gained visibility recently after Netflix featured its music in the original series “Race: Bubba Wallace,” and it appeared as opening act for Bad Suns, the post-punk inspired rock band hailing from California, on its 2022 tour. Perhaps its growing success can be attributed to the pandemic. While most artists had to put their music on the backburner, Quarters of Change used the downtime the pandemic provided as an opportunity to buckle down and get serious.

Quarters of Change began illicitly recording music in the band members’ high school, after hours. Frontman Roter revealed that the bandmates used to pee in water bottles to avoid being caught by security while using the bathroom. This level of dedication slightly concerning, yet admirable, demonstrating how, since the beginning, Quarters of Change has placed its passion for music above all else. 

However, the band’s music from these early days — released under the name Concrete Jungle — is not included in its discography on most streaming platforms, even though the band members dedicated a lot of time to its production.

 “We didn’t scrap it, necessarily. It’s still available, but we thought sonically we wanted to start from scratch and really go for a new sound,” Harris said. “It’s a part of us, and still something we’re proud of, but we’ve just grown and evolved.” 

And evolved they have. Gone are the days of hidden basement producing. The group has attended — and dropped out of — college, and changed its band name. They’ve aged, become more professional, and truly immersed themselves into the lives of rock musicians.

“It’s a play on words,” Acker, the band’s guitarist, said. “Quarters and change. We were constricted by making music for only a few weeks at a time during the school year, so once we were able to really dedicate ourselves during lockdown we decided not to go back.” 

The group, like most, began by doing covers — mostly songs by the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nirvana.

“We love the Chili Peppers,” drummer Anrather said. “We’ve probably played all of the Chili Peppers at this point. And Nirvana, stuff like that. Playing covers like that helped us really find our sound.”

The band’s alt-rock sound mirrors the likes of the iconic 1990s rock bands that most of the band members grew up with, complete with heavy guitars and fast drum beats. However, the production backing on Quarters of Change’s album is minimalistic, a choice that Harris — the producer of the group — made on purpose. 

“We always knew we didn’t want to rely on a backing track too much, it’s just not really our thing,” Harris said. “[The soundscape] should enhance the music.”

The band’s bare soundscape contributes to the experience of hearing its music live. “We prefer performing live — that’s really where we feel the most comfortable,” Anrather said.

“It’s not that our energy is encapsulated better there, but it’s just where the music was meant to be heard,” Acker added. 

After opening for Bad Suns this past year, Quarters of Change learned more about the logistical side of being musicians.

“I definitely think that opening for Bad Suns gave us more of an education for our business than college,” Roter said.  “We gained a lot of experience and learned a lot about what we wanted to include on our own tour.”

Acker believes that, at the end of the day, the band is essentially running a business — and argues that this is something the members need to think about. Quarters of Change is dedicated to its craft, and the members are willing to go the extra mile to make the business side work alongside the creative side. He added that the band has a new album coming out soon. When asked for more details, Roter said it will be “different and evolved.”

Quarters of Change is currently on its North American tour with indie-rock band late night drive home and rock band Telescreens.

Contact Julia Diorio at [email protected].