Melanie Mae Bryan

An Interview with Quarters of Change

Music Scene Media
Oct 1, 2023
8 min read

Founded in 2017, Quarters of Change is an alternative/indie band based out of NYC. The quartet is made up of Ben Roter, Ben Acker, Attila Anrather, and Jasper Harris. The band recently announced their upcoming sophomore album, Portraits, which is scheduled to be released on January 26, 2024. They have been releasing singles recently from the forthcoming album, such as "Do or Die", "What I Wanted", and "Hollywood Baby". We recently had the opportunity to chat with the band while they were on the road to their next gig.

MSM: How are you?

BEN A: I'm good, how are you?

MSM: I'm good.

BEN A: I'm eating some Big League. You ever eat Big League?

MSM: The gum? 

BEN A: Yeah.

MSM: No, I know what you're talking about, but I don't think I've had it.

BEN A: Oh man. I'm a sucker for some round ball grape, let me tell you.

MSM: Awesome, haha. So, what first ignited your passion for music?

BEN A: I mean, probably Big League. For each of us, it's probably something different, so I'll pass the phone around. But I'd say music was a paternal thing from my father that was sort of passed down to me. 

JASPER: Probably playing guitar. Yeah, I definitely started playing guitar because of my dad early on, and then I got into music after that. 

MSM: Alright.

ATTILA: I’ve been a music lover my whole life, but I started playing drums shortly after I met Jasper. He got me into it. 

BEN R: Hi, I'm Ben, number two. My mom was always playing music around the house. My dad worked in music and started playing at a young age and fell in love with it pretty quickly.

MSM: Okay, great. Who are some of your biggest musical influences and how have they helped to shape your sound?

BEN R: I think I have a bunch of musical influences from the Beatles to the Stones to the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Strokes to the Moldy Peaches. But I find it funny that I don't necessarily often get compared to the people I love most, which I kind of find to be, because I feel like usually you tend to style yourself intentionally after your heroes, which I kind of thought I was doing, but it's been interesting seeing that people think we sound like something that, or someone else that I've never necessarily heard of, which I think is a dope thing to come out of it. But yeah, I'd say those are my inspirations.

BEN A: Just building off that I feel like there are so many influences in this group collectively, but also each individual person has different tastes and just bringing them in. So building up Ben's point of wondering if you actually even sound like the people who you truly idol is idolized. I think when you have so many different influences coming into one space, it's cool to see how it sort of develops into, I don't know if there's ever truly a originality in music, but a sense of it.

MSM: Okay. So how do you go about taking all of the emotion in your songs and turning that into a music video?

BEN R: That's a great question. Well, we like to include a lot of performance in the music videos, which I always feel like is the most organic way to really convey the actual emotion of the song, because usually when I sing, my emotions are pretty plainly painted on my face. And then the rest of it is kind of like we love to work with directors and filmmakers in general that have their own strong vision and can bring something to the table like that, especially if it's a vision that we really love and we put a lot of trust in the people that we've worked with. So it's a combination of the two.

MSM: Okay. So, you recently released the singles "Do or Die", "What I Wanted", and "Hollywood Baby". Can we expect a similar sound to these with the rest of your upcoming sophomore album Portraits?

BEN A: I think Portraits kind of spans a pretty eclectic range of what we do. There is definitely a consistent sound and the three singles we dropped play a really important role in the sound of the album. But I think we're really proud that each song on this album really stands alone. When we were sort of in the process of hearing back the recordings sort of halfway through the process, it was like, wow, honestly, any of these could be a single in their own, their own function. So yeah, there's a nice cohesion, but it definitely tells a story.

BEN R: Yeah, it feels like with each song that it's not just a continuation of the last one that you heard that it's its own portrait.

BEN A: Thus the name Portraits.

MSM: Yeah. Okay. I like that. Can you talk about the creative process behind the album and any themes or messages you may be trying to convey with it?

BEN R: Yeah. I mean, we did the writing for it pretty much all during a two week period of time where we isolated ourselves in a cabin in the woods, and then we set up a live room and just looked at each other in the eyes, picked up our instruments and just kind of opened our hearts. And that's pretty much what the album is, and there's no specific message that I want somebody to necessarily take from it, except that I think that if they close their eyes and listen to the words, listen to the music, and listen to what their gut is telling them, the song is that they'll really be able to understand it.

BEN A: Yeah. I think that's really well put. We wrote it in winter, it was the end of 2022, and we had been really wanting to curate a body of work in that way, sort of all being together. We went through a lot of phases of trying different recording techniques and writing techniques and demoing, at this point, probably hundreds of songs just in a bedroom. But to really be in the room with each other and really hear songs fill up a house, I feel like there's a really strong test for us. Ultimately, with every new body of work you put out, you want to hopefully improve, whether it's not in the public eye, just as a student of music. And so to give ourselves to be given that opportunity to just be able to be together like that, I think was why it only needed two weeks. And obviously all the production work came after that. Spent the next six months of the beginning of 2023, producing them, recording 'em, continuing to collaborate with some people on this album, which was very new for us. We haven't had this many collaborators in the project ever. So it was a lot of new experimentation. It was a lot of things that I think we wanted to do for the first time, and a lot of things that we had to do in terms of collaboration to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and have a little more faith in things outside of ourselves at the same time. It's a cool process.

MSM: So this will be a question for everyone: If you had to pick out your favorite song or lyrics from the upcoming album, what would they be?

BEN R: I guess for me, my favorite song is "Keep My Blood", the last track on the album, and it is, definitely, Quarters of Change at their finest, and I don't even know, it's a bit of an odyssey. That's all I'll say.

JASPER: Favorite song for me is probably "Heaven". It's just because I feel like it really shows our chops that we've attained since the last album. And yeah, I just think the playing on it is really sick and we've really grown as musicians a lot since the last record. And there's some cool bounces in there, some new pedals and yeah, I like that one.

BEN A: I'm trying to think. My favorite lyric is probably in "What I Wanted". I think that second verse is really strong. "Too many tears have gone to waste, I've filled up a piggy bank with hearts, lies, and all of my mistakes." That one would always resonated with me.

BEN A: Really good imagery and very honest and just painting a picture of a feeling.

MSM: Okay. What are your future goals and aspirations as a band? Where do you see yourself in five years?

BEN A: Stadiums. We love playing music. We know that live is our asset, and to be able to sort of connect with that many people is our dream. We try to write stadium rock worthy music, and I think just continuing to create really honest work. I think as long as we're continuing to do it, the four of us, and really take the time to sit and work together and cut our teeth a little bit on pushing the boundaries of what we've done before, things will always grow, and no doubt we'll get there.

MSM: And I think what you said about honest music, I think that's going to help you get there. That'll really help you connect, people can tell when it's authentic.

BEN R: Yeah. I feel like there's not a lot of point to writing dishonest music because ultimately that shit collapses, doesn't age.

MSM: So this may be different for each of you as well, but can you talk about a particularly memorable performance or moment in your career?

BEN R: I think the second time we played Bowery Ballroom, 20 days before our first album was going to come out, was kind of our first moment in our hometown playing our biggest sold out show yet, and really realizing, oh shit, something's happening. This feels different than before. Just when we hit the stage, that is. And I remember saying to the crowd, I guess the moment has begun, and really ever since there, just building off that. And now we're heading back to New York to play our biggest show ever at Webster Hall and sold that out as well, would just be fucking incredible. And we're so stoked on that and we're giving it our all, and I just want to make my mama proud. That's it.

MSM: All right. What is an interesting or fun fact about the band that people may not know? It can be about any of you guys individually, or the band as a whole.

BEN R: The entire band played soccer against each other in eighth grade long before we were a band.

MSM: That's cool. My last question for you guys is, is there anything else that we haven't said that you would really like to share with your fans?

BEN R: I mean, if you can just include a note thanking them, because they've been fucking incredible. They really are. The reason that I think we have the strength to continue through all the opposition and all the hard times.

BEN A: I think ultimately we do this because we love music. We do this because it's what we love to do, but ultimately, there's a whole nother realm of purpose in this thing when you have that many people believing in what you're doing, and so you're doing it for them as much as you are yourself. And so it's something to be eternally grateful for. I used to think it was so conceited when someone would get up for an award or something and say, thank you to my fans, but being here now, you really realize, hey, you wouldn't be here without them. And so it's really special to see every night, at least now.

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