Rock band Quarters of Change on their ever-evolving sound

The members of the rock band Quarters of Change talk about how they started as a band and how they used the pandemic to their advantage.

(Courtesy of Quars of Change)

Consisting of four tight-knit, born-and-bred New Yorkers Ben Aker, Attila Unrather, Jasper Harris and Ben Rother, Quarters of Change is a master of the modern revival of the rock sound of the 90s and early 2000s. It became famous recently after Netflix featured his music on the original series “Race: Bubba Wallace,” and he showed up at the Bad Suns warm-up, post-punk inspired rock band from California, on his 2022 tour. Perhaps its rising success can be attributed to the pandemic. While most artists have had to put their music on the backburner, Quarters of Change have used the downtime the pandemic has provided as an opportunity to loosen up and get serious.

Quarters of Change began illegally recording music at the band members’ high school during the off-season. Frontman Rother said that the bandmates were peeing into water bottles to avoid being caught by security while visiting the restroom. This level of dedication is a little unsettling, but admirable, demonstrating how Quarters of Change have put their passion for music above all else from the start.

However, the band’s music from those early days—released under the name Concrete Jungle—doesn’t feature in its discography on most streaming platforms, even though the band members spent a lot of time producing it.

“We didn’t hand it over for scrap metal, definitely. 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 we’re still proud, but we’ve just grown and evolved.”

And they developed. Gone are the days of manufacturing in hidden basements. The band attended—and dropped out of—college and changed their band name. They got older, became more professional and really immersed themselves in the life of rock musicians.

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

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

“We love the Chili Peppers,” said drummer Unrather. “We’ve probably played all 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 reflects the cult rock bands of the 1990s that most of the band members grew up with, complete with heavy guitars and fast drum beats. Still, Quarters of Change’s production is minimalistic, a choice that Harris — the band’s producer — made on purpose.

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

The band’s bare soundscape contributes to the experience of feeling the music live. “We prefer to perform live – that’s really where we feel most comfortable,” Unrather said.

“It’s not that our energy is better encapsulated there, but it’s just a place where the music should be played,” Acker added.

After opening for Bad Suns last year, Quarters of Change learned more about the logistical side of music.

“I definitely think opening Bad Suns gave us more education for our business than college,” Rother said. “We gained a lot of experience and learned a lot about things that we wanted to incorporate into our own tour.”

Acker believes that, at the end of the day, the group is essentially running a business – and argues that this is what members need to think about. Quarters of Change is dedicated to its craft and members are willing to go the extra mile to make the business work alongside the creative side. He added that the band will release a new album soon. When asked to elaborate, Rother said it would be “different and expanded.”

Quarters of Change is currently on a North American tour with indie rock and rock band Telescreens.

Contact Julia Diorio at [email protected]

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