Artist Profile: Track Meat

The band is a quintessential revival in Amherst’s post-punk scene

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Track Meat | By Astghik Dion

By Lauren Power, Collegian Correspondent

On Thursday, April 21, I sat down with one of Amherst’s most well-known bands: Track Meat. Some recognize the name through their iconic stickers placed around the University of Massachusetts campus; Meanwhile others, like myself, know the group through attending their shows in basements around Amherst amongst sweaty pits of college kids. Rather than watching them howl into a mic and strum their guitars, the five of us sat in the shade at a table outside of the Student Union — a setting beautifully fit for the rock band, with skaters gliding past and people walking to class. They detailed what it’s like playing house shows as well as organized shows on campus. The group also unraveled the process of recording and producing their new EP, “Amphibian,” which dropped just a few weeks earlier, on April 1. Track Meat’s members include senior guitarist Mike Bergeron, senior guitarist and vocalist Matt Comoletti, senior bassist Jeremy Jacques and junior John “Yianni” Davis on drums.

Comoletti and Bergeron, Track Meat’s original founders, met back in high school while working at a grocery store in Weymouth, Mass. The two bonded over the desire to start a band and came up with the name “Track Meat” on one slightly drunken night back in 2019 while going through Bergeron’s list of possible bands names. Comoletti came up with the thrifty idea to switch Bergeron ‘s“Track Meet” to a more punk sounding “Track Meat,” and the rest was history.

Davis and Jacques came into the band sometime later. Jacques responded to the band’s post on the UMass subreddit page and met up with the two outside of Hampshire Dining Commons during fall semester of 2021. Meanwhile, Davis connected with Comoletti through Facebook Marketplace while delivering an old mattress on the first day of classes. After being told the band needed a drummer, Davis went home, looked up the band on Spotify and thought, “I would like to play music in this band.”

Bergeron describes their sound as “kind of post-punk, kind of emo-alternative stuff.” Their style takes after bands like Dinosaur Jr., Title Fight and Joyce Manor. They describe playing house shows as some of their favorite gigs because of the rawness and intimacy involved in merely jamming out in a cement basement with nothing between them and the rambunctious crowd. Having been to several of their shows, I can attest to this beautifully wild energy that tends to engulf the whole room.

“We’ll look [up] from where we’re playing and it looks like there’s 25 people,” Jacques said. “But talking to someone after, they’re like, ‘there were a hundred people there!’’”

Track Meat | By Astghik Dion

As Track Meat becomes more popular in the Amherst punk scene, countless people are beginning to gravitate towards their shows.

“Seeing some of the house shows where people that we don’t really know still come out, it’s an awesome feeling, especially when they get into the music,” Bergeron said.

Even with the excitement of playing packed shows, however, the band acknowledges that sometimes house shows can become too dangerous. With too many people packed into a tight space, or moshing in an area not built for such intense movement, the shows can become an excuse for violence rather than a way to express how the music is making one feel.

“We love people of all heights, but if you’re too tall don’t stand in the front,” urged Jacques to their audience members.

Anyone paying attention to the Western Mass music scene knows that Track Meat is not alone in overtaking UMass this year. Bands such as The Baxby’s, The Upstairs District and The Lights, among many others, have added to the momentum and expanded the culture.

“[Track Meat] is best buddies with The Baxbys,” Comoletti said. “We played our first show around here with them, and I think that was probably one of their first shows as well.”

Student organizations have also embraced the emerging bands and fostered the connections they inspire among UMass students. Organizations such as SALT and UPC have put together shows like “Emo Valentine’s Day” and UMass Got Talent — all of which drew major crowds and were more accessible for curious students on campus.

The four UMass students have to balance their aspirations for the band alongside their schoolwork, as they’re in demanding majors such as biology, philosophy, physics and political science. They also dabble in improv comedy on the side. The group travels to different states and venues to play gigs throughout multiple days of the week, in places such as the South Shore of Boston, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Although the majority of the band is graduating this May, Track Meat has no plans of slowing down anytime soon. One goal the group has is to find a space where they can play without having to worry about disgruntled neighbors, police shutdowns and over-crowdedness.

“Building the community up a little around here would also be cool,” Bergeron said. “Getting some more consistent show venues so we can have ourselves and the wonderful bands that are in this community be able to play more, and have the audience have a safe cool, place to watch music and, I’m going to say it, maybe even make some friends along the way.”

Track Meat | By Astghik Dion

Track Meat’s first EP, “Amphibian,” produced by friend Nicky Russo of The Dreamtoday, includes four tracks the band has been playing for a while now. The songs have been written since January 2020, and Comoletti describes recording the songs as a “long time coming.”

Over the course of nine days, the band worked for 12 hours a day and recorded nine songs. The remaining five are currently being mixed for their second EP that is set to be released in the coming months. The recording process was a mix of frustrations, tiredness and take-out food.

“It was really interesting watching everybody melt down sort of a little bit,” Bergeron laughed.

Davis called for at least 10 to 12 takes on each of the songs: “My hands were destroyed after,” he recalled.

The first song they wrote, “Dig Me A Hole,” was originally recorded in Herter Hall on Bergeron’s phone and remains a nostalgic band favorite. “Face to Face,” a crowd favorite, is used as an opener for most performances because of its provocative and visceral effect on people.

To keep up with Track Meat, and to make sure to not miss any future shows, follow the band at @trackmeatband on all platforms.

Lauren Power can be reached at [email protected].