On Thursday, April 21, I sat down with one of Amherst’s best-known bands: Track Meat. Some recognize the name through their iconic stickers placed around the University of Massachusetts campus; Meanwhile, others, like me, know the band from attending their shows in Amherst basements among the sweaty college kid pits. Rather than watch them holler into a microphone and strum their guitars, the five of us sat in the shade at a table outside the Student Union – a setting perfectly suited to the rock band, with skaters passing by and people heading towards the classroom. They detailed what it’s like to play house shows as well as staged shows on campus. The group also unveiled the recording and production process for their new EP, “Amphibian,” which was released a few weeks earlier on April 1. Members of Track Meat 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, the original founders of Track Meat, met 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” one slightly drunken night. in 2019 by going through Bergeron’s list of possible band names. Comoletti had the frugal idea of replacing Bergeron’s “Track Meet” with a more punk-sounding “Track Meat,” and the rest was history.
Davis and Jacques joined the group some time later. Jacques responded to the group’s post on the UMass subreddit page and met the two outside Hampshire Dining Commons during the fall 2021 semester. Meanwhile, Davis connected with Comoletti via Facebook Marketplace while delivering an old mattress on the first day of class. After learning the band needed a drummer, Davis went home, looked up the band on Spotify, and thought, “I’d like to play some music in this band.”
Bergeron describes their sound as “a kind of post-punk, a kind of emo-alternative stuff”. Their style is inspired by bands like Dinosaur Jr., Title Fight and Joyce Manor. They describe the house shows as some of their favorite gigs because of the brutality and intimacy involved in simply jamming in a cement basement with nothing between them and the exuberant crowd. Having attended several of their shows, I can attest to this beautifully wild energy that tends to engulf the entire venue.
” We are going to watch [up] where we play from and it looks like there are 25 people,” said Jacques. “But talking to someone afterwards, they’re like, ‘there were a hundred people there!'”
As Track Meat became more popular in the Amherst punk scene, countless people began to turn to their shows.
“Seeing some of the house shows where people we don’t really know are still hanging out is a great feeling, especially when they’re getting into music,” Bergeron said.
Even with the excitement of playing packed shows, the band recognizes that sometimes house shows can get too dangerous. With too many people crammed into a tight space or moshing in an area not designed for such intense movement, shows can become an excuse for violence rather than a way to express how the music feels.
“We love people of all sizes, but if you’re too tall, don’t stand in front,” Jacques urged his audience members.
Anyone interested in the Western Mass music scene knows that Track Meat isn’t the only one to overtake UMass this year. Groups such as The Baxby’s, The Upstairs District and The Lights, among many others, added to the momentum and broadened the culture.
“[Track Meat] is the Baxbys best friend,” Comoletti said. “We played our first show here with them, and I think it was probably one of their first shows too.”
Student organizations have also embraced the emerging groups and fostered the bonds they inspire among UMass students. Organizations such as SALT and UPC hosted shows like “Emo Valentine’s Day” and UMass Got Talent — all of which drew large crowds and were more accessible to curious students on campus.
The four UMass students have to balance their aspirations for the group with their school work, as they are in demanding subjects such as biology, philosophy, physics and political science. They also embark on improvisational comedy in parallel. The band travels to different states and locations to play gigs several days a week, in places such as Boston’s South Shore, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. Although the majority of the band will be graduating in May, Track Meat has no plans to slow down anytime soon. One of the group’s goals is to find a space where they can play without having to worry about unhappy neighbors, police shutdowns, and overcrowding.
“Building a bit of community here would also be cool,” Bergeron said. “Getting more cohesive live venues so that ourselves and the wonderful bands that are in this community can play more, and audiences have a safe, cool place to watch music and, I’ll say, maybe even being to make friends along the way.
Track Meat’s debut EP, “Amphibian,” produced by friend Nicky Russo of The Dreamtoday, features four tracks the band have been playing for a while now. The songs have been written since January 2020 and Comoletti describes recording the songs as “a long time ahead”.
For nine days the band worked 12 hour days and recorded nine songs. The other five are currently mixing for their second EP which should be released in the coming months. The check-in process was a mix of frustrations, fatigue, and takeaways.
“It was really interesting to see everyone kind of break down a bit,” laughed Bergeron.
Davis asked for at least 10 to 12 takes on each of the songs: “My hands were destroyed afterwards,” he recalls.
The first song they wrote, “Dig Me A Hole”, was originally recorded at Herter Hall on Bergeron’s phone and remains a favorite of the nostalgic band. “Face to Face”, a crowd favorite, is used as the opening for most performances due to its provocative and visceral effect on people.
To follow Track Meat and make sure you don’t miss any upcoming gigs, follow the band on @trackmeatband on all platforms.
Lauren Power can be reached at [email protected].