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Quarters of Change Are Making a Name for Themselves—And Having Fun While They Do It

By Anna Billy | 23 March, 2023

Despite a hectic day with delayed travel, a fifteen-minute sound check, and a shortened set for their show, Quarters of Change still made time to sit with me for an interview at The Depot Tavern, the restaurant and bar next door to First Avenue and 7th Street Entry in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In a flurry of commotion, Ben Acker, Ben Roter, Atilla Anrather, Jasper Harris, and Mark Poggioli—the band’s tour bassist—hastily ordered their food and drink in between quoting TikTok audios. “Negroni Sbagliato,” Poggioli and Harris repeated, mocking each other repetitively. Their seemingly large entourage oozed New York cool; their creative director Amyas and tour manager Axel huddled on the opposite end of the large makeshift table, laughing at inside jokes and boyish drunken behavior from the previous nights.

It is clear that the band and their team are more than co-workers or even close friends: they are family who keep each other afloat during tour.

As a fan myself, I am ecstatic to have the boys finally play a show in Minnesota and they are just as excited. Acker notes the history and importance of playing a First Avenue venue, citing music icons from the Twin Cities like Prince and Lizzo. It is clear they know their music history and are deeply passionate about the ways which music can have a profound effect on a listener. Acker mentions how the band primarily listened to The Beatles on their journey from Chicago to Minneapolis. Each member shares their favorite song, noting the lack of overlap because of their diverse individual taste. Citing lesser known songs like “Julia” to classics such as “Eleanor Rigby” or “In My Life,” Quarters of Change is acutely aware of how a band like the Beatles’ musicality strikes a delicate balance between all instruments: enough power from a drum line won't overshadow the guitar, which compliments a bass riff, and results in a masterpiece. Working to create a similar cohesion themselves, Acker notes “Rift” as a strong example of that type of intentionality and thought put into their craft.

quarters of change press photo
credit: Elektra Music Group

Making music in one of the largest music cities makes cutting through the competition a difficult task. But Quarters of Change's unique alternative rock sound and their commitment to staying true to themselves personally and sonically allows them the opportunity to distinguish themselves among peers in New York City. Roter had previously said that by growing up in New York City, the band’s sound had to “cut through something” and he elaborates: “I think that just in a city that's so big and so loud... you have to be able to believe that you can be an individual first of all. And then, with that aspect you have to be able to believe that you can have your own sound…I think being from such a large city that can kind of get like f***ed up so I think we just rely on each other to try to be different and cut through that.”

Acker agrees and adds on: “[T]here definitely is an important sense of individuality in the city that you have to find yourself. But I also find that the city really likes to group people together.… It's really on us to, like Ben said, live in our individualities because that group classification [of white boys in a rock band]... will always be there. [T]he only thing that's going to cut through and differentiate is being true to yourself in the music.”

Using opportunities like writing trips in the woods helps Roter, Acker, Anrather, and Harris hone the precision of their sound which blends technical perfections and oddities into one melodious sound.

For instance, Acker acknowledges the intentionality behind creating music for Into the Rift with theme or vision for each song: “T Love” is associated with the color blue and the congo-style drums in “Dead” was inspired by the jungle. However, Harris’ technique when playing the guitar is less than technical. He notes, “I’ve totally had a pretty weird… technique with guitar playing when I first learned because it just came from playing Guitar Hero.”

While “Cult of Personality” by Living Color can only teach a young boy so much, Acker excitedly adds Harris’ up-stroke technique when playing has stayed with him as the band grows. These musical differences, whether noticeable or not in the music, set Quarters of Change apart and distinguish them as fun-loving boys who live and breathe music.

quarters of change press photo
credit: Amyas Ryan

Curious to learn more about the band’s relationship to their fans and their marketing campaign for their debut album Into the Rift, I was pleased to find Quarters of Change were nothing short of shy. When asked about their website’s video game as a part of their rollout, they emphatically stressed their disappointment in their inability to complete the game. I mentioned that I knew someone who had and Roter eagerly asked, shocked: “Is there a boss level?” To his dismay, there is not—but he assures me that the game was a fun activity that fans would appreciate rather than a core component of their rollout. He noted, “There wasn’t… an assumption behind it. Like oh, our fan demographics [are] gamers… they need this. It was more [of] a fun side project.”

I agree with him: I am not a gamer by any means; I have played a few rounds of Mario Kart and briefly threw myself into StarDew Valley during the height of the pandemic, but upon learning about this video game, I spent several hours trying to master the first level. With each failed attempt, I was able to hear snippets from the album which built my anticipation for release day even more. Their relationship with their fans is an ever growing process the band is excited to continue developing.

While Quarters of Change might not know exactly what their fan demographics look like, they can feel the fans’ love in every city. Acker comments on touring as one of Bad Suns’ opening acts last year. Going out into the crowd one night to watch the band's set, they ended up standing next to a fan who captured them in a video. He mentions, “We probably all watched like Nickelodeon Kids Teen Choice Awards at one point and you see people get up there, they win something. They're like, ‘thank you to my fans’ and you're [thinking], ‘Oh, that guy seems like such an a**hole.’ But honestly, like it is the fans…they are the reason. Their support and growing belief [in us] is the only reason that [we] can do this.” He pauses to reflect, “I wonder… how fans interact together?”

quarters of change press photo
credit: Elektra Music Group

Roter jumps in to add “I [find] a lot of solace in our fan base for sure. I was writing a lot of songs about my personal struggles… and just seeing how it resonates with people helps me feel a lot less alone.”

The band also acknowledges the power of social media in assisting their steady growth and popularity. When I mention their Tiktok comes across more as a personal diary where friends dick around and then also promote music on the side, the boys agree that it provides a personal touch and a healthy dose of realism. For example, their Zoolander gas fight Tiktok did just as well as their promotional videos for the “T Love” music video.

While our short time together was nothing short of chaotic, eating with Quarters of Change felt like a communal dinner with friends you haven't seen in a long time. Between Roter scolding Anrather for drinking out of his water cup, Acker clumsily spilling water all over himself mid-sentence, or any of the boys talking over each other while sipping on their Negronis or Palomas to make sure their voice is heard, our makeshift table for ten was filled with exuberant laughter. Their animation, enthusiasm, and delirious energy remained high throughout the entire set. Roter even got the crowd at 7th Street Entry to mosh during their encore.

Nothing excites me more than the future for this band whose strongest passion is to make music. Like Anrather said while biting into his food, “It’s this or nothing.”


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