Shredding Metal

Jared Pohl, a member of American Muscle, a garage band out of Newton, has a?sticker attached to one of his drums that says, ?I love bacon.?
?I love bacon,? the band?s drummer said, echoing the sticker. ?Bacon makes the?world go round. Bacon ? it?s meat candy.?
Pohl said he loves bacon so much he even ate a giant cheeseburger at a fair that had?chocolate-covered bacon on it and used Krispy Kreme doughnuts for the buns.
If the 29-year-old loves bacon, he also must buy it at the grocery store. But the band?wants to bring home the bacon in another way by booking gigs.
Other group members are Travis Smith, 33, on guitar and some vocals; Michael?Fahrney, 23, on vocals and occasional guitar; and Chris Beasley, 37, on bass.
?The core of us have been together about six months,? Smith said. ?We play a blues?style of hard rock. It?s not quite hard metal and all the screaming.?
The group does play loud enough, though, that someone standing near them can?feel the music vibrations in his or her chest. The group rehearses on Sundays in?Smith?s basement, but they hardly can be heard from the street. On one Sunday afternoon?in April, as heard from outside, the rock music was superimposed over the?sound of an ice cream truck as it made its way through Newton.
Before rehearsing in the basement on a recent Sunday, group members did a?sound check, and then a couple of people, including Fahrney?s dad, listened in on?rehearsal.
Some of the group?s main influences come from Clutch and ZZ Top, and Smith is?big into Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold, he said.
American Muscle hasn?t played together anywhere as a group as of yet. Pohl was in?a band called Kidney Shot in Emporia; that group played in Lawrence and Emporia. In?addition, Pohl and Beasley have jammed off and on for years; they met through siblings.
That?s not the only prior friendship in the group before it formed.
?Me and Chris have been friends for years and years,? Smith said.
Smith and Beasley played with a group called Red Letter Revenge two times as it?broke up and got together twice. This group played at the Fox Theatre in downtown?Newton.
The way Fahrney joined the group was through karaoke. Smith said he hosts?karaoke at the Iron Horse Pub in Newton, and Fahrney would come in and sing.
?We both had a mutual love for rock and karaoke,? Smith said.
Smith then asked Fahrney to audition for the band.
?We did two songs, and after two songs, we immediately hired him,? Smith said.
?First audition ? nailed it,? Fahrney added.
Fahrney and Smith collaborate on writing the songs, creating both the melodies?and vocals.
?And then these two (pointing to Pohl and Beasley) tell us if these things suck or if?they?re good,? Smith said.
The group has seven or eight original songs ready to perform. Titles of their original?songs include ?The Man,? ?Crappy Blues Song,? ?Shadow,? ?It Is What It Is? and??Puppies and Kittens.? The other songs have working titles.
?We talk about (doing) covers, but we never get that far,? Beasley said.
Group members have years of experience in music. For example, Smith has been?playing guitar for 15 years and has been in three bands, including First Crucible, Years?of Life Lost and Red Letter Revenge. He?s played in Lawrence, Manhattan, El Dorado?and at the Fox.
?All but one were charity or fundraiser shows,? Smith said.
Beasley has played bass for six years. His bass-player career started as a crash?course. Two guys needed a bass player and asked him if he wanted to?learn how to play bass.
?It?s still a crash course,? Beasley said.
Fahrney has been playing guitar for 10 years. He?s also played another?instrument and been singing for quite some time.
?I?ve been playing piano for as long as I can remember,? he said.??Been singing since I was born.?
The lead vocalist of American Muscle said he?s been in bands, but the?only one he talks about is Steady Your Pace, which is no longer together.
He did the vocals for that band. The group does want to play for people?? not just in Smith?s basement.
?We?re actually looking to book right now,? Smith said.
To sign them up, call Smith at 316-804-0932 or Fahrney at 316-631-5639. For more information about the band, visit
Future plans include recording a CD and possibly?touring a little.
The guys right now, however, think of the band as a hobby, and all?have day jobs. Pohl works for ResCare Industries in Newton; Beasley is?the maintenance supervisor at Inter national Paper Recycling; Smith is an?assembler at Excel Industries; and Fahrney is a field representative at Rent?First in Newton.
The band members get along and seem to have fun together as they?rehearse. At one point, someone yelled from the first floor of the house,
?You guys just blew a breaker.?
?Mike comes over for dinner every other night,? Smith said, standing?in his basement.
Band members play video games online together. They all enjoy playing?Call of Duty. Although all band members reside in Newton, one?member, Pohl, has historical roots to the town.
?My grandfather was one of the original milkmen of Newton,? he said.
When asked if his grandfather would like the kind of music he plays,?Pohl said, ?I don?t think the radio in his truck has left KFDI.?
Two other band members mentioned their families.
Smith?s mother and stepfather have been to all of his shows, and?Beasley?s family has attended his shows. Beasley?s wife and daughter?have been to all of his shows, and his mother also has been there for support.
The atmosphere during rehearsal is casual with members wearing Tshirts,?jeans and shorts. In addition to booking gigs, Fahrney mentioned?another goal the group has.
?We just want to melt faces,? he said.

To book a gig
To contact American Muscle, call Travis Smith at 316-804-0932 or Michael?Fahrney at 316-631-5639. The group also is on Facebook at


Story and photos by?Wendy Nugent

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