The Atypical Interview: Ted Nugent | Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
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The Atypical Interview: Ted Nugent

Jul 09, 2014 Bookmark and Share

Ted Nugent has a new album coming out in July. So why would this be of interest to Under the Radar readers? Well, maybe it wouldn’t, but this is my blog post, not yours, so read it or don’t. [Seems a bit of old Uncle Ted might be rubbing off on me.] Nugent, for better or worse, is one of the most interesting people in music and has been for some time. With the extreme Native American garb, the oversexualized lyrics, and the right-wing political spewing, he’s like a gigantic id run rampant. And that’s not even to mention the guns and crossbows. That said, it’s as close to objective fact as you can get that “Stranglehold” is one of the best rock and roll songs every recorded. And if you don’t chuckle (or at least give a smirking grimace) at lines like, “You can yank me and you can crank me, but don’t you wake up and try to thank me,” you might need to, as Uncle Ted would say, “have your pulse checked.”

Since storming out of Detroit in the ‘70s, the Motor City Madman has certainly made his mark, and not just on music. [Heck, he was investigated by the Secret Service in 2012 after some of his famous anti-Obama remarks went a bit too far.] Like it or not, Nugent and his band, which since 2011 has welcomed back original Ted Nugent band singer Derek St. Holmes, sell out concerts every summer and have not stopped recording new music. The new album, Shutup&Jam!,” is as Nugent-y a collection as you might expect. Guitars wail, solos abound, Sammy Hagar guest sings, and lyrics range from typical rock and roll fare to the absurdly ridiculous.

One might assume from the album title and its namesake’s song stating “enough of that political stuff,” that Nugent has taken a step back from the arena of political commentary. Discussion with his publicist in setting up the interview included my assurance that said interview would surround the topic of the new album. And this was certainly the case prior to getting on the phone with His Nugeness. However, as is often the case with Ted Nugent, nothing is sacred, and heaven help us if anyone tries to get in his way.

Frank Valish (Under the Radar): Thanks for taking the time.

Ted Nugent: Where am I calling today, Frank?


Pennsylvania. One of my favorites. The Keystone State. Land of Fred Bear.

That’s right.

That’s right. I’m always right. That’s a problem I have to bear. I’m always right. It’s a pisser

The title of the record and the first song seem to nod to some of your political commentary of the recent past. Is this album your way of saying your stepping back from the spokesman Ted Nugent?

Hehehe, surely you jest, and I will stop calling you Shirley. No. Not a prayer. But when it comes time to enjoy life and be respectful of others’ choices in life, I recommend everybody just shuts up and jam. Because music is the universal communication. And I’ve got an awful lot of people buying an awful lot of tickets to my shows, purchasing an awful lot of my music product over the years, who are literally polar opposite of me politically. And I respect that. For example, I’ve always said, if you don’t like meat, I’ll buy you a fucking salad. And if you don’t want to own a gun, don’t. But don’t tell me I can’t eat venison and carry a gun. So I’d recommend you just take a deep breath and just shut the fuck up and jam. Because the music is so much fun. Some of my greatest musical heroes were such political and lifestyle numbnuts. Wouldn’t it be fun to see what Jimi Hendrix would be playing today? Or Bon Scott? Or Keith Moon? And they were all as left wing, Mao Tse-Tung wannabes as they’re going to get, but it doesn’t serve quality of life, for you or your loved ones, or your fellow man. Here’s a perfect example. How old a guy are you, Frank?

I’m 37.

Thirty-seven. Just a young man, but you’ve been around long enough to pay attention. And you know who Tom Morello is, one of the great musical virtuosos of our day. Tom couldn’t be more left and more opposite politically than I am. But we get along just fine. He’s a gentleman. We get together. We have fun and a little bit of jabbing, a little irreverence toward each other, a little kind of cute probing and prodding. But it’s all civil. It’s all gentlemanly. And I think that when you really step back and you go, “Okay, what does Tom Morello believe in?” Well, he obviously believes in most of the exact things I believe in. He believes in being the best he can be. He believes in providing to his family. He believes in working really hard so that he’s an asset to his family, his community, and his country. You know what I mean? So in the real pragmatic, utilitarian responsibilities of life, a guy like Tom Morello is so much like me, it’s silly. And I like him.

Even Bono [he initially pronounces, intentionally or not, with two long o’s, before correcting himself], or Bono, of U2. He just in the last couple years said that the only way you can possibly help underprivileged and poor people is through capitalism. Because without the incentives to maximize your productivity and compensation thereof-i.e., capitalism-there’s no money to help feed people. There’s no money to help house people and get them water. The poor people ain’t gonna get poor people stuff. That’s Bono. That’s a Ted Nugent mantra.

Here’s the beauty. I don’t have many opinions. I really don’t. It’s not my opinion that Chuck Berry created this stuff. He did. It’s not my opinion that venison is food. It is food! It’s not my opinion that god gave me the gift of life and I have the right and responsibility to defend it. It’s not my opinion. It’s a self-evident truth. It’s not my opinion that dope is a victim crime. Dope makes you less capable of helping your family. Dope makes you less capable of being an asset to your neighbors or your fellow man. So dope is a victim crime. That’s not an opinion. The statistics don’t lie. Gun free zones don’t reduce crime. They’re the source of all vicious crime. Every mass shooting is taken place in a gun free zone. These aren’t my opinions. I know how it works. I see Chicago. A gun free zone. Since you and I got on the phone I’m sure some numbnut shot some other numbnut in a gun free zone in Chicago. So yeah, shut up and jam. When it comes time to just get together around the campfire or wherever you are, backstage, or wherever you might want to gather with your friend and family or fellow man, we can have a political discussion or we can not have a political discussion. But at the end of the day I’d recommend everybody just shut the fuck up and jam. Hallelujah.

This is the first you’ve recorded with Derek St. Holmes in almost 20 years, which also was at the time the first you recorded with him in some 13 years. Do you feel like you’ve buried the hatchet, or will there always be some tension between the two of you?

Oh no, I don’t think there ever was a hatchet. Derek left he band to pursue his own musical statement. Godspeed. I shook his hand, gave him a big hug, and wished him the best of luck. Unfortunately, there’s nothing to show for that. He made some great music with Brad Whitford, Whitford-St. Holmes, and, god, he’s a musical genius. Some day people have got to wake up to Derek St. Holmes the guitar player. He’s one of the greatest guitar players that ever lived. If I cut him loose on stage, it’s unnatural. The guy is a masterful guitar player. Of course, the voice is a gift from god, whether it’s “Hey Baby” or “Stranglehold” or “Just What the Doctor Ordered” or “Lovejacker.” Especially “Everything Matters” [from Shutup&Jam!]. My goodness, what a masterpiece song and vocal that is. It’s so soulful.

So no, there never was a hatchet. He was pursuing his own music and I was pursuing my own music and I made all those record and I’ve sold, I think, since Derek left the band, I don’t know, 20 million records, and yes a lot of those were records he sang on, but I also sold about 12 million records that he didn’t sing on. In fact, it’s more than that, because the Damn Yankees sold 5 million, so it’s probably more like 15 million. And I’m not really bragging or trying to compete with Derek, because he’s an incredible singer. He’s an incredible songwriter. He wrote “Hey Baby,” you know. That’s his composition. But I know of his talents and I know of his musical sincerity, and that’s all that really matters to me.

And not only that, but it’s kinda cute, because Derek and I get along on the life level like brothers. We believe in all the same things. So it’s always good to have him around. On this record, it was just a matter of logistics that kept him from singing more songs. I wanted him to sing more songs but we just couldn’t put the timing together. Because I was kind of in a whirlwind. I had both of my knees replaced on February 26. I just couldn’t live any longer with the pain, so I had both of my knees replaced and then experienced even worse pain. In fact, right now, because we’re talking about my beloved music is the only reason I’m not writhing in agony, because my knees hurt like a motherfucker. Because we were under the gun to fulfill a contract, I actually recorded the album just right after the surgery, and it just turned out that Derek wasn’t available a lot. But I did whatever I had to do to get him to sing on “Everything Matters,” because I wrote the song for his voice. And I think you can hear that. It’s just a great, great song and a great, great performance.

I saw you at Penn’s Peak last year…

How ‘bout my band?! Isn’t my band the best? You like this kind of music? Fucking a!

But there are guns and you’re talking about Obama. I wonder whether you feel like people have an inaccurate view of who you are.

No, not at all. I think that even the haters, they hate me because they really believe that Obama is the savior. And the people who hate me really believe that socialism, even though it’s failed and destroyed every life it’s ever touched through history, they for some strange reason think that Obama’s version of socialism might work this time. So yeah, they know exactly why they hate me. Because they’re not independent. They’re not individuals. They really believe in the sheep-ing of America. So someone who fights to keep us from becoming sheep, they hate me for that. So there’s no confusion. The people who love me, love me for the same reason. Because I stand up for non sheep-ing. I stand up for rugged individualism. I stand up for self-defense. And what’s in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I stand up for logic and common sense and self-evident truth. So the people who hate me, hate me because I stand up for common sense and logic and self-evident truth. (Laughs). The people who love me, love me because I stand up for common sense and logic and self-evident truth. There’s no mystery here.

But you tend to get caricaturized. And I wonder whether that is something that bothers you.

You know, in the big world of what bothers me, that’s not even a blip on the radar. What bothers me is crime and the abuse of power in our government. The indecency of a veteran’s administration purposefully murdering the heroes of our military. So in the world of what bothers me, people’s attitude toward me just doesn’t mean anything. Well, it means something. I get on Facebook and see people who want to kill me and my family because we eat venison. Now that’s sad, and it’s demonic, but in the world that we live in, I laugh so hard I can hardly see straight. That’s funnier than Richard Pryor’s afro catching on fire. So let me get this right. There’s over 4 billion people in the world. All but a million of them eat meat. So you’re against mankind. You hate mankind. Really? That’s some funny shit. I think it’s hysterical. It’s so sad that they’re still slaughtering each other in Chicago, but we know why. Because they keep letting murderers and rapists and carjackers out. It’s a gun free zone, so only bad guys have guns, which forces all other citizens to be unarmed and helpless, and they slaughter each other at will. And then we have an attorney general and Rahm Emanuel, the mayor, and all the leftist, liberal democrats actually want more gun free zones. Now that’s heartbreaking in reality, but it’s also hysterically funny that man can be that stupid. So you’ve got to laugh at these twits. It’s a great source of inspiration to me.

And that’s always been the case for you too, right. I read a book on the history of Detroit music [Detroit Rock City: The Uncensored History of Rock ‘N’ Roll in America’s Loudest City], and it painted you in a similar kind of light from the beginning in terms of your peers.

Well, number one I don’t have any peers. I guess it can be epitomized in the book, in the Detroit musical history book, and Frank if you don’t get a kick out of this, you need to have your pulse checked. What the fuck was this guy’s name, he was the manager/guru/dope supplier for the MC5? What the fuck was his name? It’s right on the tip of my tongue. Dammit. Just a complete loon. I don’t even think he ate food. I think he just ate dope, and he said in the book, and this is it in a nutshell, be sure you get this quote accurate. The fuck. He goes, “Nugent is an asshole. He always was….How could you trust a guy who didn’t get high?” There it is right there. You gotta be kidding me. That’s exactly right, how can you trust anybody who doesn’t get high, the only guy in the room capable of saving life if a fire broke out, how can you trust him? John Sinclair. Fucking John Sinclair.

So if John Sinclair and Michael Moore hate me, two perfect examples of hygiene-challenged chimps, I must be the coolest fucking guy in the world. You see what I’m getting that? If you just listen to my critics. My critics want to kill my family because we eat venison? Really? No wonder I’m so fucking cocky and confident, because what more stamp of approval do you need that you must be really on the right track if those kind of people hate you. That’s why I think in the intro of my book Ted, White, and Blue: The Nugent Manifesto, I wrote, “I’m a black Jew at a Nazi Klan rally.” The Nazis and the Klan don’t like me, because I’m a black Jew! So if you find a Nazi and a Klansman, they probably hate Ted Nugent, almost as if I was a black Jew. So God is really setting me up for just the most wonderful life. And my confidence cup runneth over, because John Sinclair said I was always an asshole; how can you trust somebody who doesn’t get high? Oh that’s right, because when push comes to shove, everybody looks for meaningful advice in life, from stoned people. What the fuck? See what I mean? So that’s why just shut up and jam. And if you listen to “Fear Itself,” and even “Do-Rags…,” Who else on planet earth, Frank, would write a song called “Do-Rags and a .45?” What a masterpiece.

That leads me to another question. On “Never Stop Believing,” you sing, “I have a dream like Martin Luther King.” How much thought do you put into lines like that that you know are going to rile people up?

Wow. Yeah. None. I put no thought into it, except that I believe that.

But you know…

Because I do have a dream. And that is a historical colloquialism that’s coined by the great Martin Luther King Jr. and I do have that dream. I do have a dream that people will judge each other based on the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. That’s all that meant. There’s no ambiguity there whatsoever. And how about that? How about your question? That in 2014, an educated man can ask another educated man if there was any intent, and I’m paraphrasing your question, that quoting of a great man, a universally acknowledged great man, would cause people to be upset. What has happened to us?

I agree with you. But I also think you must know that that statement, coming from you, is going to piss some people off.

Well only in the world where the liberal democrat driven media has repeated the lie and the nasty evil accusation of me being a racist. Yeah, in that world, sure. Here we are in 2014. That’s why the question I pose to you is absolutely undeniable. Here’s the society we live in, where people want to kill me because I eat venison. Really? And you’re in charge of my diet when? None of this surprises me. When you have such a rotten man, whose agenda has always be against America, against exceptionalism, against being the best you can be, against entrepreneurial risk and productivity, like Barack Obama. When he’s the president, the jury is not still out, that either a majority of Americans have lost their soul or the corruption in the voting process has lost its soul. So I don’t waver. I think you may have noticed that. Every word that comes out of my mouth, including Wango Tango, I believe. For all the right reasons. If you’re not having fun with Wango Tango, you’re mentally deranged. And if you question my quoting Dr. Martin Luther King you’re just a rotten person.

And don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t questioning your use…

No, no. I’m not talking about you, Frank. You’re a journalist. You have to ask these stupid questions, because there’s a bunch of stupid things going on, so we have to acknowledge the stupid arena.

And the heart of my question becomes, do you kind of get a bit of a kick out of nudging those John Sinclairs, of nudging those people who are unreasonable and irrational?

Originally I had no knowledge that there was a nudge going on. I merely stand up and say what I believe in. when I turned down the drugs, I didn’t do it to nudge someone. I did it for self-survival, to make sure that I didn’t turn into the drooling, puking, dying hippies around me. And a lot of people have taken that drooling, puking, dying hippies statement and called me violent. Wait! I’m not the violent one! I’m merely identifying that you probably shouldn’t do the things that cause you to drool, puke, and die. I’m the anti-violent guy. See how twisted things get? But on the Monday morning quarterbacking maneuvers, when I look back and see that John Sinclair makes a statement like that, What a bonus. I didn’t mean to nudge anybody, but when I do, it’s a bonus of immeasurable joy and satisfaction. Again, if you just look at and listen to my critics, not to mention the haters, they can’t even form a cognitive sentence. Their syllables are slurred, and they can’t trust people who don’t get high. (Laughs) If you and I got the greatest creative minds in the history of mankind and said create a demographic that everything they say and do makes me look really, really, good, they’d create John Sinclairs, and Michael Moores and Heidi Prescotts and Nancy Pelosis and Barack Obamas and Eric Holders.

Well look I think you probably have another engagement, so…

Constantly. Yes indeed. In fact I’m packing my bags right now. I’m making sure there’s no guns or ammo or large hunting knives in any of my bags, because I’m going to Sweden.

I have to tell you, Frank, tell everybody in your journalistic realm there how much the Nugent family and my band and my crew and my whole team appreciate all these unbelievable nonstop years of support and unified celebration for the music that we love. I cannot thank people enough. And especially, like the “Shutup&Jam!” song indicates, those who may not agree with my politics or my choices in life but who are still there, still having a good time with the music. I really salute those people for making the right choice when it comes time to enjoy the universal communication of music. You know, shut up and jam. You know who I am. You know where I stand. Hallelujah.

Thank you again.

Alright Frank, live it up.



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July 14th 2016

Je les trouve particulièrement incompétents. J’ai trouvé de la moquerie et non pas de l’humour dans leurs propos. J’ai l&8o;#17;impressi2n qu’ils débarquent d’une autre planète. Vraiment désolé pour ceux qui les apprécient.

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October 1st 2018

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October 1st 2018

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