Granted, Ted Nugent's picture isn't likely to show up in the dictionary as an example of the word "humble." As an advocate for insurgency, draped in the guise of a rock 'n' roll outlaw, he's never identified with the brooding, introspective image assumed by others of his era who forever embraced the mantra of peace, love and harmony that was propagated throughout the late '60s and early '70s.
His bad boy persona was stamped with a certain sneer and swagger, a combination that defined the distance between him and the other members of the so-called peace and love generation. That difference is clear in his unapologetic disdain for drugs and his unabashed enthusiasm for guns, not to mention his fierce allegiance to the more conservative ends of the political spectrum. Ever feisty, fierce and tenacious, he once stalked the stage in a loincloth and knee-high boots while gripping his guitar like an AK47.
At age 61, Nugent shows no sign of mellowing, still purveying the grit and defiance that stamped his stints with the psychedelic '60s outfit the Amboy Dukes and later, his super group Damn Yankees (which also featured Jack Blades, Tommy Shaw, and Michael Cartellone), while also stamping an unwavering string of solo albums stretching from the early '70s onwards. No wonder then that he's dubbed his latest jaunt "Trample the weak hurdle the dead." Or that the tour convened only after Ted took time for a favorite personal pastime, specifically hunting in the wilds.
Fortunately, New Times was able to track him down and capture a few minutes of the Nuge's time prior to his departure, and upcoming invasion of our area.
New Times: So, what can we expect from a Ted Nugent show these days?
Ted Nugent: Sheer terror and the genuine threat that if you fail to dance with adequate animal enthusiasm, that there is a very real possibility that violent things could happen upon you! With maximum peace and love of course! Mick Brown on drums and Greg Smith on bass represent the most dangerous rhythm section a guitarist could ever dream of jamming with, and we create a firestorm of primal R&B and Rock 'n' Roll outrage every night. We ain't right! My music has never been more fun, more intense, more ferocious in all my life. There is no believable explanation, except that Mick and Greg and I so crave the musical high, that we live each jam, song, concert and moment with everything we got. It is not of this earth. If you don't have the time of your life at my concert, you need serious help.
Is the manic madman onstage anything like your offstage self?
We're convinced... but how do you think your music has evolved over the years? Is the hard rocking Ted Nugent of the mid '70s the same Ted Nugent we see today?
Like a killer cat, I've become more deadly, more graceful, more efficient, more effective, more brutal, more ferocious and way more funny.
You'll be 62 at the end of this year? Now that you're almost eligible for social security, do you have any thoughts about slowing down? Have you mellowed at all?
Being clean and sober all my life has given me incredible health and energy, and most importantly, an incredibly intelligent prioritization regimen for quality of life. I rock my ass off royal half the year, then hunt, fish and trap the other half. I've written four books, two New York Times Best Sellers, write regular features for more than 20 sporting publications, a weekly feature for the Washington Times, Humanevents.com and Glenn Beck's Fusion magazine. I conduct more than 1,000 media interviews each year, produce, write, co-edit, direct and and host both "Ted Nugent Spirit of the Wild" and "Tooth, Fang and Claw" TV shows, run Sunrize Safaris booking and guiding outfit, operate Sunrize Acres and SpiritWild Ranch hunting operations, plus partake in literally hundreds of charity events throughout the year. My family, staff, management, band, crew and Sunrize Safaris hunting guides are simply the best, hardest working, professional monsters on earth. The government would claim to need 5,000-7,000 people to accomplish the same thing my team of 30 do. The American Dream is alive and well for those of us with a Herculean work ethic and spirited attitude for quality of life. No, I have not mellowed. In fact I have to have my horns trimmed three times a week these days, instead of only two a few years back. Life is what you make it, and I make it wonderful.
When you look back on your lengthy career, what musical memories come to mind?
A throbbing plethora that is not to be shared with an unsuspecting public. You will have to read my book.
Okay then, but how about sharing some of your earliest influences?
Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, James Brown, Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, the Beach Boys, The Ventures, Lonnie Mack, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, all things Motown, the pure, raw interpretation of American black music by the Stones, the Beatles and the Yardbirds drove me wild and still does to this day.
You've always veered away from the norm in terms of the usual rock 'n' roll lifestyle -- you don't do drugs, you're unabashedly pro guns and seemingly conservative in your political beliefs. What's more, you've never really won a whole lot of praise from the critics. How has this apparent estrangement from the rest of the rock community felt to you?
I've never felt any estrangement from anyone of merit. My time with great musicians has always been very positive and I have been treated very respectfully, especially in jam sessions with Jimi Hendrix, Rick Derringer, Johnny and Edgar Winter, BB King, ZZ Top, Cheap Trick, Heart, AC/DC, Aerosmith, Kiss, and so many others. I am good friends with Sammy Hagar, Kid Rock, Toby Keith, John Rich, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry and many other gifted and talented fellow musicians. I've been having the time of my life brutalizing my guitar for more than 50 years now, and having more fun and creating more intense music in 2010 than ever in my life. The positives obliterate the negatives and its getting better all the time. Trample the weak, hurdle the dead will be the most outrageous rock out of my life. Know it.
Detroit has been such a hot bed of great music for the past 50 years - you, the Stooges, the MC5, Bob Seger and the Motown sound all hail from Motor City. Is there still a tight musical community there that you're a part of? And why do you think Detroit has had such an impact on popular music?
Amen! The mighty Motor City has gushed energy, soul, piss and vinegar forever. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels, Billy Lee, Johnny Badanjek, Jimmy McCarty, Earl Elliot and Joe Kubrik laid down the gauntlet for high energy, ultra tight, defiant R&B and rock 'n' roll for all of us way back then. By the time we were exposed to the mighty Funk Brothers of Motown, we knew we had to be absolute animals on our instruments or forget about it. That pride and spirit is alive and well today with Kid Rock, Eminem, Jack White and a whole gaggle of intense, defiant rockers all over Michigan. I am their Godfather and proud of it.
Do you still live in Michigan? If so, why have you never left and moved to the bigger markets that would bring you closer to the center of the musical mainstream?
I lived in my beloved birth state of Michigan until 2002 when my family moved to Texas due to health problems and the destruction of our Michigan home due to mold contamination. We love Texas and feel heartbroken that such a wonderful state like Michigan has gone to hell at the hands of unaccountable liberal Democrats who have systematically de-souled the state. It is tragic.
We have to ask -- what happened to the loincloth and the high boots?
I ate them. Killing fresh ones this week.
It's said that you weren't aware that "Journey to the Center of the Mind," the song which you recorded with the Amboy Dukes and brought you to national prominence, alluded to drugs. Is that true? And when did you find out that the song did have drug references?
It is amazing but true. I was tuned into the music and the masters of music. I was aware that hippies were drooling, puking and dying all around me from drug abuse, but I wasn't hip to the nomenclature. I figured it out soon enough. Sadly most of them didn't. Why do you think they call it dope?
You gave Meatloaf one of his earliest breaks when he sang with your band back in the mid '70s. Have you kept in touch with him? What were your impressions of him back then?
Another Michiganiac soul brother for sure! We run into each other on occasion and I consider him a great man and a friend.
Why didn't Damn Yankees last longer? Did egos play any part in its disbanding?
Healthy egos created the monster talent and energy of the Damn Yankees. Being the driven adventurers that we are, we all sought new mountains to climb and it appears the Damn Yankees ran its course. But you never know! Those guys deserve me.
What bands and/or other artists entice you these days?
A Saskatchewan Canadian babe named Val Halla who I am having open for me on the current tour. She reeks of soul and spirit! And anything Joe Bonamassa does thrills me!
Are you still doing your radio show?
I do numerous radio interviews literally every week of the year but a fulltime radio gig is much too geographically anchoring for me. Someday, probably.
Let's talk politics a bit. You've never been afraid to express your political views. What do you think of the rancor and division in our nation today?
It is heartbreaking and totally unnecessary really. The line drawn in the sand is a direct result of the curse of apathy and the cluelessness that results from intentional, lazy disconnect. Those who are not interested in doing anything for their country, but rather demand a shopping list of bloodsucking demands from America have the perfect president and gang of czars for their sheep-like, self-imposed dependency. It's embarrassingly soul-less really. On my side of the line drawn in the sand are ass-kicking, hard-working American families who don't want the government to do anything besides protecting our borders and enforcing our laws, and to basically get the hell out of our way to be the best that we can be. The criminality of the Mao Tse-Tung fan club in the White House will go down as one of the most bufoonish, ignorant crimes in the history of the world. Damn shame. Sadly, we get what we ask for. I fight it every day of my life. And I shall win.
You were Tea Party before there was a Tea Party. Have you interacted much with this group or have they urged you to get involved? Have you ever considered a run for public office?
Thank you for noticing that. Yes, thank God, the so-called Tea Party movement is simply "we the people" waking up that this glorious experiment in self government, by all considerations, demand all Americans are duty-bound to actually participate. The Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights, Ten Commandments and Golden Rule are still the guiding lights for this amazing and unique American Dream, and the Tea Party is simply demanding a return to these pillars of freedom. I like it. I am as involved as anyone can be. Godspeed the Tea Party.
Why do you think most musicians tend to lean more towards a liberal point of view?
I'm not so sure they do, but those that do, do so due to substance abuse that rots their minds or a fantasy- driven life that's due to their self-imposed insulation from discomforting reality, both pathetic conditions for pathetic people.
Your involvement with the National Rifle Association is well documented. You've served on their board, but have you ever been nominated as president of the NRA? Or ever asked to do public service announcements or lobby on their behalf?
The NRA is surely the most powerful grass roots family organization in the history of mankind, standing up for the irrefutable self-evident truth that free people have the right from God to defend themselves and have the individual right to keep and bear arms in order to do so. Unarmed helplessness is a soulless and irresponsible condition, and only a fool would allow it. I will do all I can for the NRA in any capacity in which they wish me to do.
Have you ever met Sarah Palin? Ever thought of going hunting with her?
I have met the great lady, and yes, I would love to go hunting with her. I hunt the magnificence of Alaska nearly every year and would certainly enjoy a Palin campfire anywhere anytime.
We have to ask -- are you against gun control in any form. For example, do you favor a waiting period, limiting the accessibility of assault weapons, keeping guns out of the hands of children or those with criminal backgrounds and the mentally ill? What limits would you put on access to weapons, if any?
Children and violent criminals should never have access to chainsaws, blowtorches, wood chippers, gasoline and matches, tire irons, ball-peen hammers, Buicks, pit bulls, coping saws, steak knives, firearms or flamethrowers. I think intelligent people can agree with that. Other than such logic, no other restrictions need be placed on any tools in America.
You're about to take off on a bear hunting expedition. Where are you heading?
I killed stunning black bears in New Brunswick and Alaska so far this spring, and hope for another magnificent rug steak with my bow and arrow in Quebec next week. Killing bears with sharp sticks makes for some mighty fine soulful, intense Rock 'n' Roll guitar noise, I assure you.
Your love of hunting is well known of course. But what do you say to those who deplore hunting because they say animals are defenseless against modern weaponry, and that it's a cruel sport that gives man an unfair advantage? Do you think hunters would be as enthusiastic about the sport if animals could fire back?
I say nothing. I simply go hunting and kill things. It is perfect.
What is one question you've never been asked?
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Why I haven't been asked to be the master of ceremonies at the Pink Pistol gay rights events... ever. Life ain't fair.
Trample the weak hurdle the dead. Godspeed.
Ted Nugent, 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 29, at Revolution Live, 200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $32. Call 954-727-0950, or click here.