By Jeb Wright
I have done many interviews with Ted Nugent over the last 18 years. He is always fun to chat with. I’ve been a fan of his music since I was 11 years old and heard the now iconic album Double Live Gonzo. That album inspired me to pick up a guitar for the first time.
Nugent is a rock ‘n’ roll maniac, a political activist, a gun toting hunter, a bow shooting fool and one well rounded son of a bitch. He speaks his mind like he plays his guitar, loud, fast, powerful and with precision. Some hate his politics, some hate his lyrics, some hate his music and some just flat hate him. Ted’s okay with that. He gets it. He’s not trying to please everyone…no, Ted is making Ted and those he loves happy on this go around. He is doing it his way, he’s learned from past mistakes and he is moving ahead into a successful future…despite his detractors.
Okay…I don’t match his political stances 100% but I understand what he is trying to do. I am more in the middle and Ted is in a world of his own! When we are together we tend to chat mostly about music…as you will read below. We can’t help but discuss a touch of the current political climate as 2016 will be a year to remember once either Trump or Clinton is in the White House. But…mainly…we talk about Ted Nugent…and his band…and his last tour…and the 40th anniversary of the Free for All album…and Meat Loaf.
For me, Ted Nugent always will be a rock ‘n’ roll guitar player first and foremost. He’s that guy on his knees with his hands on his head with a Gibson Byrdland guitar draped off of him on the Double Live Gonzo album cover. Now, 18 years, and a couple dozen interviews later…I consider him a rock ‘n’ roll friend, or as Nuge refers to me…a rock ‘n’ roll blood brother. Much to the chagrin of my liberal friends…Hey…I like the guy. And man…can he still play guitar.
Before doing this interview I was told by everyone in Camp Nugent, including Ted himself, that I should go see this band in concert. They all claimed the Sonic Baptizm tour rivaled any he had ever done. Those are big words. Nugent is now a three-piece. His band consists of bassist Greg Smith, a guy who has toured with everyone from Wendy O. Williams to Rainbow, and 21-year-old drummer Jason Hartless…a kid with a huge heart and a giant batch of talent.
In the interview that follows Nugent finally talked me into witnessing this band for myself just a few days after this interview was conducted. I’m glad he did. They were on fire the entire night. Nugent is playing like a man a third of his age with a giant hard on in a room full of pinup girls. His passion for his music, his riffs, his solos and his attitude remains Nuge Huge. Oh…and just in case you’re wondering…yeah…he’s voting for Trump .
Jeb: As always, I like to start off by thanking you for the legacy of music. You changed my life when I was around 11 years old when I heard Double Live Gonzo. I have never ever been the same… plus my voice changed.
Ted: Well, Jeb let’s dwell on that for a moment, shall we? I’m up on stage every night thanking people just like you and me who know the creation and the musical moments in our lives are not recreational, they are not just spectator sport, they are not just give or take it, they are powerful driving forces in our life and when you say that, it touches me deep to the core because that’s what motivated me to play this music. That’s what Chuck Berry and Bo Didley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and certainly all the masters and all the founding fathers, that’s what they did to me. I know that’s what you believe; I know that’s what you feel. I know you are sincere because I see it in teeth and eyeballs and clenched fists, laughter, smiling and dancing every night all these 50+ years later. So Jeb you and I, we have legions of blood brothers across this vast country where the music is cherished, it’s not just listened to in the background like country music is in pickup trucks that are tuned to this station turned up to almost inaudible levels. I swear to God that’s an epidemic in this country. With all due respect to my country friends out there, that’s what country music is supposed to be: it’s supposed to be background music. This kind of soulful rhythm and blues, gospel, blues, rock ‘n’ roll inspired music, it’s at the fore, that’s why Les Paul electrified this instrument, because it means so much to us.
Jeb: Amen… Derek St. Holmes is off doing his thing with Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, so you’re a three-piece rock act. Tell me about the new drummer, Jason Hartless.
Ted: I’ll bet you’ve been hearing about him. You better keep your ears open too, because what I did to Tommy Clufetos -and I don’t take credit for it- I was the vehicle, according to Tommy Clufetos. I had the ultimate music to play, the ultimate music to perform, the ultimate songs to swan dive your spirit into the throttle, into the groove. That’s what this Jason Hartless is doing. This guy is a perfect representation of the musicology, the dynamic soulful spirit, the piss and vinegar of musicology in Detroit Michigan. Remember the name Jason Hartless. This guy has brought an uppityness and returned the volatility, the throttle, the outrage, the groove, the grind, that motor city madhouse high-energy thing to my music like I haven’t seen in a long time.
God Bless Mick Brown, he’s a stone-cold motherfucker. I love this guy, but when you hear Tommy Clufetos, or when I play with Anton Fig, or when I play with Denny Carmassi, or when Chad Smith got up on stage with us in Spain and played “Motor City Madhouse” and “Stranglehold”, there’s an uppityness. Of course with Cliff Davies, did all the time. Tommy Aldridge and Carmine Appice, my God, look at my drumming lineage, are you kidding me?
Jeb: Not shabby… not too shabby.
Ted: It’s the world’s greatest; it’s the top .0001% of drum gods, and this young 21 year old Jason Hartless from Detroit… Jeb, I know I always speak in superlatives, because I have to, this is the greatest tour of my life; it is the most fun performing these songs. I never had to look back at the drums, he is my right hand. I mean literally, he is the pulse of my guitar riffs which makes my music on the upbeat, it makes it on the forward edge of the beat and so… Great music is on the backend of the beat, ZZ Top is slightly on the back edge and that’s how it’s supposed to be. AC/DC’s right in the middle of the beat, when Aerosmith does “Train Kept a Rolling” the best they ever do it, Joey’s [Kramer] on the front edge of the beat. This guy is like Cliff Davies, like Tommy Clufetos, like Tommy Aldridge, like how I push and push my musicians; it’s got to be on the front edge. We are snapping it. Watch Chad Smith, he is a human dynamo, an unleashed tambourine idiot; every movement of Chad Smith’s body personifies the part of the song they’re performing and that’s what my best guys have done, and in 2016 Sonic Baptizm, Jason Hartless, none have ever done it better.
Jeb: Well, your assistant Linda was trying to get me to drive in to Oklahoma to see the Nugent band in concert later this week.
Ted: Oh Jeb, you’ve got to witness this son of a bitch, you’ve got to feel what’s going on in music… and you read the reviews. You go to my Facebook, people who have been to over 200 of my concerts are going berserk, going this is the greatest concert I have ever seen from anybody and there are thousands of people saying that, not just a couple, not just a few dozen, thousands of people who have been to upwards of 200 of my shows, whether they’ve been to 20 or 50 or whatever, they say this is the greatest tour of my life and they are absolutely right. There is a fire this year that just keeps getting hotter and the flames are getting bigger and I know I’ve always had hot flames, I’ve always been outrageous. It’s always been high energy and my worse gig is the greatest concert in the world. But every night these guys, they force new uncharted guitar outrage from my fingers and my soul and my nuts and that is so gratifying and the people are picking up on that which brings me to your opening statement: music lovers, real music lovers fill my concerts every night and I cannot put into accurate words how fulfilling that is, I’m the luckiest guitar player in the world.
Jeb: This gives you a lot of freedom.
Ted: Well the way I play guitar, it’s bigger. I play all the strings most of the time; a lot of guys just stay in the bottom end keeping heavy. I muffle that bottom end depth that the Byrdland already has with the meat as my right hand. I showed you this before, and it allows the top strings to ring just ridiculous. I got to tell you as a guy who never gives up experimenting I’ve discovered some Blackstar stereo amps this year that gives me such a response. I know I’ve always had the greatest killer guitar tone in the world, but this year it’s even better. Jeb this tour is insane… saying it’s stupid powerful. It has to do with us not settling for amps, not settling for strings, not settling for speakers, not settling for cables, not settling for drum tones… we push and tweak every fucking day and every night it’s like holy-shit “Dog eat dog”… sounds even better tonight.
Jeb: Sounds awesome… seriously, you guys were good the last time I saw you and I enjoyed Derek being back in the lineup, so… just tell me for people who read this and haven’t experienced the two different types of Nugent shows, what’s the difference between just you and having the freedom with just one guitar as opposed to two guitar voices?
Ted: Well I have to start by, as you know I’ve always genuflected at the altar of his majesty of Derek St. Holmes…The guy is one of the most gifted talented soulful vocalist and guitar players in the world. A lot of people ask who would be in your dream band? I tell them I have them in my band. Greg Smith, Jason Hartless and Derek St. Holmes… next question. But, that being said, there is also a Ted Nugent, Lewis and Clark, Sacagawea vision that I want to go on. I don’t travel the road less travelled, I go where there are no roads. In fact, I just got word from Fred Bear an hour ago, he said there is quite an argument going on in heaven with Les Paul and Jimi Hendrix. They argue whether the notes I’m playing actually exist.
I’m playing notes that are absolutely outlandish. My point being is that as much as I love Derek… he has been my band since 1973. He was there through ‘78 and he came back in ‘79 and ‘80, he came back in ‘82 and ’84. In the 1990s he was on the Spirit of the Wild tour. He was outrageous and he came back on the Crave tour with me.
The last three tours Derek was at my side and without compromising or diminishing or slighting any of my love and adoration or respect for this great musical force... I like the 3 piece better. I like when I can play an illegal note or a chord that is real dissonant that maybe Coltrane might even frown at. Wes Montgomery might be going, “I’m sorry you can’t put that note in there, that’s not legal.” If I had another guitar playing a legal chord it wouldn’t be as widespread. I got to tell you as soon as I started experimenting with the Blackstar stereo amp I was getting a resonant left / right separation, it was such a wide rich outrageous dynamic spread of tonalities that I knew I wanted to have only the one guitar in there and you know me, I never give up. I’ve also got my own Ted Nugent Sonic Baptizm guitar pickups now.
I’ve got a mad scientist out of the Illinois side of Chicago who goes to his electronic dungeon everyday and experiments with wires and pickups, pots and cables and components and magnets and just always dicking around for the last 40 some years with pickups. He loves the sound of my Byrdland… who doesn’t? He sent me a pair and said you’ve got to try these pickups, so very reluctantly I slapped them in one of my older Byrdlands and with these Black Star Stereo Amps… holy mother of God, the richness factor! You’ve got to be a music maniac to determine and understand and differentiate between the almost imperceptible subtleties of this trebly edge and that thick trebly edge, and you know what I’m talking about.
Jeb: I know exactly what you’re talking about.
Ted: You’re a Billy Gibbons fan, you know what Small Faces sounded like, and you know that Chuck Berry and Lonnie Mack nailed it in the 1950’s. You know that the Yardbirds and Led Zeppelin and Joe Perry and everybody you know and that’s what we live for. Well I’m in my own little dungeon and I experimented with this and that string and with the GHS Boomers, cause the guys who make my strings… they are mad scientists. We are constantly in the dungeon melting metal, making strings from new outrageous components. I am surrounded by the dedicated maniacs for music supremacy… band members, crew members… the guy I’m on the phone with now that gives genuine honest critiquing, the jam sessions, the experimenting I do every day on guitar, every day, Jeb... Every fucking day I’m playing with my guitar and I’m fucking with this amp and I’m tweaking with that amp, I’m trying this and I’m doing that and every night on stage you have to do whatever you need to do to come and witness this. The sound of this guitar is what God intended and every night is a total orgy. I’m playing shit that I get goose bumps on my goose bumps, I tingle all over. Go to my Facebook and read the unsolicited testimonials from these guitar guys; they’ve never heard anything like it. There’s never been anything like it, and to say that in 2016 is astonishing because what haven’t we done, and tonight in Kalamazoo I will do what no one has ever done.
Jeb: So Ted, with the three piece format and especially what sounds like the energy that the band has, is it leaving you a lot of room for more improv that we’ve seen for a long time?
Ted: Well, I’ve never been short on improv…
Jeb: Yeah, but you’ve had times where you… I mean, there’s times when you and I have argued about this… that there’s places like Double Live Gonzo, or like on “Hibernation” that ‘improv’ goes above and beyond… it’s insane.
Ted: It’s an outrageous musical adventure, isn’t it? I’m going places with standard choral arrangement that just go from position to position that make them sound different, and the rhythm. On “Hibernation” there is no real new territory if you’re aware of Bach or Beethoven and the classics and Howlin’ Wolf… Howlin’ Wolf and Beethoven should have jammed and didn’t, so I’m covering those grounds.
I do love it and I don’t hold anything back, I’m not afraid to take chances or risks musically, but on “Hibernation” it’s basically A and G for 7 minutes, but I go to all different moments, all different positions of those chords with some faster notes thrown in, and some semi tones and of course the feedback is unprecedented in the history of sound and I’m getting those feedbacks now on stage, not just from the Byrdlands but my Les Paul and my PRS.
Jeb: You have a PRS?
Ted: Yes, I use a PRS on “Fred Bear.” I’m playing shit during that song that is insane. You know you have to see it to believe it, because everybody goes, “Aah, Nugent just thinks everything he does is just perfect…” You’re fucking right I do! Because I demand it from myself, I challenge myself and my band and the people that I see in that audience, they inspire every fucking night.
Jeb: Again with the freedom of the 3 piece, have you changed the set around a little bit? You have a lot of songs you have to play, I understand that… but you know rock nerds like me, we want to hear “Queen of the Forest”
Ted: In 2014 we played “Queen of the Forest” every night, it was awesome!
Jeb: I saw it!
Ted: We played “Working Hard Playing Hard”, that’s another gem.
Jeb: Yes it is…
Ted: If you’re going to battle or if you’re going to the race track you tweak your racecar and you tweak your weaponry, your strategies to win and once you’ve decided your series of strategies to win, you stick to those strategies, and I wanted, number one, to satisfy me as a guitar playing music creator, and I know that music lovers like you and everyone who bought a ticket to my concert, if I make me happy, I am going to make you delirious because I force myself to the upper limits. That being said, we do “Gonzo”, “Free For All”, we do “Snake Skin” extended, an outrageous jazzy “Snake Skin” middle, we go right into “Yank Me Crank Me” which goes off the charts, we haven’t done “Yank Me Crank Me” in a decade.
We go into “Wang Dang” where I unleash Jason and Greg and you’ve got to witness what these mother fuckers do. I can hardly remember to come back in… I’m watching them! And then after “Wang Dang” we do “Hey Baby” and I know that’s Derek’s baby and I introduce it as a state-home Motown-classic, because it is. But Greg sings it phenomenally, the way the Les Paul resonates and the way he sings “Hey Baby”, its better than it’s ever been, it really is, and then we do “Dog Eat Dog” which has never sounded better.
We do “Stormtroopin’” which is more outrageous than ever. I do “Fred Bear” for myself and for those people who are so touched by it. The thousands and thousands of communications I get, like last night in Lima, Ohio there was a family where their grandpa died and “Fred Bear” was his soundtrack. They contacted me after he died and wanted to know if I would write a statement because he taught his grandchildren to watch “Spirit of the Wild” and to be clean and sober and be like Uncle Ted. I wrote a statement and it was nothing but tears and emotion but fortifying tears and emotion. But they came last night and when I played “Fred Bear” last night, ahh with all of Denny’s family there, it was touched by the hand of God and there are those people every night. I have to play it for me and for Fred, but for those people who that song is more than just a song, it’s the sound of their heartbeat… and so I play “Fred Bear” every night. We play “Cat Scratch”, we play “Stranglehold”, we played “Motor City Madhouse” like you’ve never fucking heard before in your life! We played “Crave” on this tour; we played “Paralyzed” on this tour. Then we do “Great White Buffalo”… I mean, I got to get off the stage, I’m ready to blow up! There will be guts everywhere!
Jeb: You got me excited… you got me leaning toward making a road trip!
Ted: I’m telling you! Tell me which one of those you want to hear and we’ll play it for you.
Jeb: All of them! Ha ha ha! You know, what I want to do -if you would bestow me the favor- there’s something else… I know you look forward, but at the same time there are anniversaries...
Ted: Absolutely, it is the 40th of Free for All.
Jeb: It is the 40th of Free for All, the album. Now I’m 50, I just hit the 5-0 in July.
Ted: Well congratulations, young man!
Jeb: I’ve entered the club, I’ve got my AARP card in the mail the other day… so here I am, but literally in ’76 I was a kid, I was a 10 year old kid. I had older sisters and that’s how I really got introduced to the Nuge and this album to me is just phenomenal. I want to start with a story you’ve never told me and it’s what got me hooked on this record in the first place. It didn’t have a fucking thing to do with music, I looked at the cover and you jumping like that… where was that, and what do you remember?
Ted: That was in New York City and Epic -they were really focused on my music and the energy and my stage show, the athleticism of what I exuded every night, jumping where nobody except Gazelles would go- and they loved that and they were all big fans of the sincerity of the music and the authority of the music. I think those two words -not everybody can use those words to describe their music, a lot can, I’m not taking away from anybody that has sincere authority in their music and we can name all our favorites and they have it- but to have the record company identify the sincerity, authority of your musical vision and statement is a teamwork that is not -I don’t think it is- alive and well today?
Ted: It diminished after the 70’s and 80’s, the corporate started focusing on genres instead of sincerity and authority.
Ted: I don’t have to explain that to you.
Jeb: Not at all.
Ted: What you heard on Free For All, what you saw on that cover is a record company that goes, “Somehow we have to depict this energy that you have on stage… so can we get a photographer and can you do some of your stage leaps and shit?” Yeah sure, where do you want me to do it? We got a studio and just start leaping like an idiot.
Jeb: Dude, it worked though!
Ted: It worked well… during the leaping I broke the bridge off the Byrdlander I was using; there was no bridge on the guitar.
Jeb: No shit!
Ted: Yeah, it was authentic, it was sincere and it was really how I play guitar.
Jeb: Now you talked earlier about how you play all six strings and keeping with the “Free For All” theme, the main song, that’s a perfect example. A lot of people play that song wrong, man.
Ted: Well you got to strum all six strings, your right hand has to have an animal groove to it. You’ve got to come and hear the 40th anniversary of that song; it’s never been more insane! It’s a fucking pulsation; a country band guitarist would hurt himself, he wouldn’t know what to do with that!
Jeb: That is true, man. That is one thing, with the Byrd, with you at the time… I mean the ringing strings fit with that type of hollow body guitar.
Ted: Well the Byrdland makes you play a certain way.
Jeb: It does.
Ted: There’s a whole bunch of guys on my Facebook that have bought Byrdlands because of what we’re talking about: sound. The first person that goes, “Why you chose a Byrdland?” I go, “Listen to one of my records.” What the fuck kind of question is that? Listen to that, mother fucker. Listen to the opening of “Stranglehold”, tell me where you’ve ever heard that tone before? The Byrdland, because it’s so responsive. In fact, the reason nobody else plays the Byrdland is because it’s too responsive. You’ve got to position your body in a unique safe zone, you’ve got to place yourself in front of your amps where it won’t eat your face; it just starts to feed back. It’s such a low threshold because of the spruce breathable porous spruce top and it’s arched hand carved and the hollowed-ness… it’s a true hollow body, so I had to learn to control that at the volumes that I was experimenting with back in the 1960’s, when I first got it in 1965 from Lyle Gilman at the Rose Hall School of Music just outside of Chicago… and it makes you play a certain way. You’ve got to muffle those strings, and I’m the only guy I know of who puts the toggle switch in the middle position playing both pickups flat out because it gives both the highs and the lows and if you play it just forward of the bridge pickup you’ll get it and on the Byrdland more than any guitar you’ll get that percussiveness where my string, where my pick… I hold my pick so shallow that I’m strumming with both pick and thumb meat and it makes it fatter.
Jeb: That’s a cool explanation… now here’s one I’ve never asked in our million interviews: with regard to the compositions on Free For All, were all of the tracks new songs written specifically for that release, or was some of this material left over from your self-titled effort?
Ted: No, they were songs that I just kept squirting out every time I pick up the guitar. I played some licks this morning, just stupid grind. It’s like “Paperback Writer” meets “Free For All” Gonzo… da da da da… Get the fuck out of here, how can you not play that lick on a guitar! I play every day and it’s a stream of consciousness, there are no inhibitions, I’m 100% “Free For All” uninhibited. The beast flows as soon as I get close to the guitar and my guys will tell you that every time I get close to the guitar, ‘wow what the fuck, what lick is that?’ I don’t know, I’ve never played it before, but it’s a mother fucker. So all those songs were fresh as we wrapped up the Ted Nugent solo tour… it never wraps up, hell I’m still on it. But yeah, we get in the studio… bang bang bang and Derek had that Bo Didley riff for “Live it Up”, but he didn’t have any lyrics and “Turn it Up”, that just blows up at the sound check. That’s how I test my amps, and all the guys around me go, “That’s a mother fucker, that’s got to be a song…” and I go, “It will be in four minutes!”
Ted: And I don’t have a pad of paper and pencil… I just go… la da da da… “What you got cooking I need it on a Saturday night!!” I mean come on, “I turn it up, make it louder than hell, turn it up, turn it up, make it ring like a bell… I know what I like...” I mean, what the fuck else would you sing!
Jeb: Hey man, the weird thing about that one is Derek -apparently from what I understand- he kind of got a little rock star-ish.
Ted: Yes, unfortunately he had a little team behind him and you and I have talked about it.
Jeb: Sure we have, and we don’t have to rehash the whole thing.
Ted: His wife was just feeding him bullshit, she was getting high and just feeding him a line of shit and his close buddies from Detroit, those Detroiters have a great attitude, but boy are they capable of a line of shit.
Jeb: Now, wait a minute…
Ted: Ha ha… now you know I’m right! I mean no disrespect young man, but Derek was going through some stuff in his life and that’s when I called my old buddy Marvin Lee Aday. I had Meat Loaf singing some of the songs.
Jeb: That’s right… Meat Loaf sang lead on five of the album's nine tracks. That is so cool, especially in historical retrospect. That was the question I wanted to hit you with and then we can move away from Free for All and wrap up our chat with some new shit. Did you know Meat Loaf before this?
Ted: Oh yeah, there was a duo in Detroit who toured with the Amboy Dukes called Stoney & Meatloaf.
Jeb: Yeah! I didn’t know you guys toured together.
Ted: Oh yeah, we did a lot of gigs together. We did shin digs and blues clubs, and Stoney, the beautiful red haired singer, I forget her real name, we became good friends and she became the background singer for Bob Seger. Just a super gifted girl and of course Meat Loaf went off on his own. I think the Free for All gave him a nice kick in the ass, he did great. He’s a great, great man.
Jeb: Her name is Shaun Murphy. Marvin was credited as Meatloaf, one word, on the "Free-for-All" liner notes. When I first heard it, I was like what the fuck is this? It is a strange mix, but it works.
Ted: Yeah… why not, man?
Jeb: Now we’re here in the present, I did want to quickly mention Shut Up & Jam! because that’s still relatively fresh… you know nobody puts them out once a year anymore, so these releases got more life in them.
Ted: I forgot to mention when I was listing our set, we do “I Still Believe”.
Jeb: I wondered!
Ted: Yes, we play “I Still Believe” and it’s a rouser, we get a bigger reaction than some of my biggest hits.
Jeb: That’s cool. Are you still a guy that says I’m going to keep doing albums, or… I mean… you know what I know -the business is fucking weird.
Ted: Oh, I know! It’s more than weird, it’s a heartbreaker, Jeb. How can you invest all that money into making a product that people expect for free? If that’s how you ran apple orchards, there would be no apples.
Jeb: That’s true.
Ted: Nobody would put the investment in the group, in the real estate and the seedlings and the equipment, the gas and the hired help to pick the apples and the heaters during the spring freeze, the investment to grow… there would be no apples if it were run like the music business.
Ted: Or if it was, there would only be a few select apples that made Saturday morning cartoon music with the properly pierced body parts.
Jeb: Ha ha ha!
Ted: I got to tell you, I’ve got to make that comment. I watch these musical shows, the Billboard Awards, The Grammys and Country Awards show… Jeb, it’s over; it all sounds like Saturday morning cartoon music, its so cookie cutter predictable, it breaks my fucking heart. Now, there are some unbelievable talents, like Carrie Underwood… I’d like to have her pick my apples; she’s not just beautiful but just insanely soulful and gifted and the Brad Paisley’s they got it and Toby Keith is a force to reckon with in that world, and there are so many I could go on and on… but so much of it sounds like… I mean The Monkees would have rejected most of these songs.
Jeb: Sadly, I hear you.
Ted: I mean, come on! What the fuck happened?
Jeb: You mentioned a moment ago that Ted Nugent, Meat Loaf and Bob Seger, you guys were all three on the charts at the same time and no one would ever confuse those three albums for the other.
Ted: No they’re soulful, but uniquely identifiable.
Jeb: That’s what’s gone!
Ted: That’s what’s gone!
Jeb: Both, the soulful and the uniquely identifiable.
Ted: I have a ‘throw up bucket’ nearby when I watch these awards show. I mean, here’s another indictment to the soullessness of our industry. So I’m watching Alice Cooper, great man, great talent with Johnny Depp, I don’t know who the fuck invited him, and Joe Perry cranking guitars on an award show and I’m watching Joe and he’s playing some killer leads -I know he is, he is a monster- and you couldn’t hear a fucking note he played. They don’t give a shit about guitar solos and as soon as you don’t give a shit about guitar solos you’re a punk, you’re a liability in the music business, you don’t have any right mixing that band. Get the fuck off the PA system and put somebody in there who gives a shit about someone who dedicated their lives to make great music and let me hear the notes Joe Perry is playing, you mother fucker.
Jeb: You said it better than I could have.
Ted: I’d like to go to those award shows with a ballpeen hammer and stand behind the mixing board and when they don’t show respect for a solo, bash the guy in the fucking side of the head… “You fuck, turn that fucking guitar up!”
Jeb: But you know they fight back… just like Gene Simmons said, he wasn’t being critical or being an asshole, he’s just saying it’s over, you know.
Ted: Well, clarify that though, it’s not over. New exciting soulful adventurous music creativity might be over, but it’s not for legions and army’s of genuine music loving ass-kickers… they are out there every night. You should see the enthusiasm Jeb; it is off the charts… and for me to be able to say what I’ve witnessed in my lifetime, the intensity of my career, to be able to say that in 2016 people are more intense than ever… Most people go, “Yeah right Ted, like that’s possible?” Oh yeah, it’s not only possible, it is every fucking night.
Jeb: Here’s a misconception about you that I hear, and I get in anyone’s face that tells me stuff like, “Nugent doesn’t care… he’s just doing that so he can go hunting” and “he’s just this and that... “
Ted: Oh my God!
Jeb: I’ve known you for 15 years… you do play your guitar, you do practice, you do still create, so… that is the biggest falsehood, I think that any of the ‘other side’ has about you.
Ted: Well, when the media runs crazy everywhere that I told Native American’s to go back where they came from -and sheep repeat that lie- well sure, there’s going to be people that just pull such insanity. To claim that Ted Nugent doesn’t believe in the music… ha ha ha, you guys, you’ve got to be fucking kidding me. That’s like saying my dick is only for peeing!
Jeb: Ha ha ha ha!
Ted: How retarded, how mentally ill, how soulless, how dishonest, how clueless can a fucking person be! And I’ll tell you how clueless; they’ll probably go to a Clinton rally and cheer on a criminal! They’ll probably go cheer on the woman that caused the death of four Americans in Benghazi, didn’t give a shit, could have saved their lives but refused to, etc etc etc., who has lied to the F.B.I. and got away with it, where you and I would both be in fucking solitary confinement. I mean I could go on, but those are the people that say that.
Jeb: Yeah, I know.
Ted: We’re a divided nation, but when honest, caring, intelligent people and freaks, ghouls, weirdoes… I mean I don’t know what makes them tick. How the fuck can the Huffington Post and MSNBC and CNN and even FOX run the lie that the greatest friends the Native Americans have ever had, told them to go back where they came from, especially since they’re from here?!
Jeb: Good point!
Ted: What the fuck!! Are you kidding me??
Jeb: I remember a long time ago in an interview, “My Bow and Arrow” we were talking about that song, we used to play Cowboys and Indians and I was the Indian.
Ted: Yes!! I exemplify the Native Americans rustic conservation spiritual lifestyle my whole life and then Huffington Post and others say, “How can we hurt Ted Nugent the most? Let’s turn him against the Native Americans and hope there are enough dumb ones to believe it.”
Jeb: The thing is you’ve got guys like me in Kansas -just regular guys who live in a regular place- we just wonder why people would really do that...
Ted: Well your brain is tested, because our life means something, respect means something. I would never force a law that demands everybody own a gun, but the Clinton and Obama people would pass a law that would forbid anybody from owning. If you don’t want to own a gun, here’s a good idea: don’t own one! But don’t tell me I can’t. You don’t think medicine is food? Well, you’re wrong. But if you don’t want medicine, here’s a good idea: don’t eat it. But that’s not what the other side says. They want to ban me from hunting; they want to ban me from owning guns. They want to ban my speech, they put quotes around words that never came out of my mouth and are diametrically opposed to my life and get away with it. So these are tragic times, but that’s the bad and the ugly. The good is that Donald Trump has gained more response from an otherwise sleepy nation than any Republican has in a long time. I believe Hillary Clinton’s criminality will be over in November and will surface even to the point where the zombies and sheep will have to admit she’s the enemy of America and couldn’t possibly become their Commander in Chief, and that the Ted Nugent concerts are sold out every night with the most enthusiastic real soulful music loving people the world has ever known. So there is lots of good, and as always there are lots of bad and ugly, but our responsibility as ‘we the people’ is to maximize the good will fighting against the bad and the enemy, that’s what I do.
Jeb: We can wrap it up on a lighter note… Jokingly, I told my wife several times, I said, “You know if Trump wins there will be no one better to play the inaugural ball than Ted fucking Nugent… and I’ve got to get myself in on that gig somehow! I’ll carry an amp, tune a guitar… I’ll do something, ha ha ha!
Ted: My emotional version of the “Star Spangled Banner” right into “Great White Buffalo.” Above the canyon walls, strong eyes did glow…
Jeb: Dude, I’m going to check with my wife, make sure I have permission… I’m may have to road trip Friday.
Ted: Well, I’d love to see you witness this, because I know you live for real music, not just Ted Nugent real music, but people who put their heart and soul into that, and I know you’ll just love witnessing this Jason Hartless. God almighty, what an animal! The guy’s only 21 playing professionally; he tutored under… oh, I’m going to forget the name, the phenomenal drummer from Mountain. What the hell was his name?
Ted: Yeah, Corky Lang. He was at our gig in New York last month.
Jeb: Oh, I’ll be damned.
Ted: And so Jason goes right to the core of the music that we love since he was 8, 9 years old.
Jeb: I saw the original band, I’ve seen damned nearly every Nuge line up there is, and your guys are playing all over the place. You’ve got Dave Amato in REO, you’ve got Clufetos with Ozzy, Marco Mendoza and Tommy Aldridge everywhere, Ricky Phillips in Styx, Charlie Huhn in Foghat… I mean we could go on and on and on… BUT… the two line ups you’ve had that just sonically sent me through the roof, of course, first the original lineup back in the day…
Ted: Yeah, Rob Grange, Cliff Davies… yeah, are you kidding me? Wow!
Jeb: But also the ‘Marco Mendoza / Clufetos’ Nugent.
Ted: No doubt. Mendoza… he’s doing the Thin Lizzy stuff, he plays with the Dead Daisies. We’re mentioning names here of the greatest talent that have ever walked the earth. Marco Mendoza is some strange music species; I mean, stuff that he can create! When he played the intro / outro on “Earthtones” for example, the guy is a monster and that’s what was on Jimmy Kimmel Live when we played “Rawdogs” and “Cat Scratch”, the 2007 show with Clufetos and Mendoza, and it was a monster. Yeah, what great guys and I keep in touch with all of them… Amato and Clufetos, and I keep in touch with all of them, even Rob Grange, who’s got a bit of a burr up his ass, I suppose, if he quit in 1978 because I was holding him back. I guess I was holding him back from selling real estate, I don’t fucking know. But being that as it may, I respect all those guys and you know I’ve never had anything but total respect and admiration for those talented monsters, whether they like me or hate me, it doesn’t matter because their musical genius has to be respected.
Jeb: And this three piece rivals any of the other ones I just mentioned?
Ted: I’m telling you, it surpasses any of them.
Jeb: Now that’s a Nugent thing to say, now I know you mean it.
Ted: I absolutely mean it. I can feel it, every song, every night there is an uppitiness, there’s a savagery to the passion that Jason and Greg pile on these songs. No, this is magic stuff.
Ted: Magic stuff.
Jeb: Well my friend, thank you again for the time and the content and we’ll get this going. I might check back with you about the gig… the only thing is I don’t think I could get down there in time, but let me see if I can move some stuff around.
Ted: Hustle muscle, make it happen! And at any rate, God bless you Jeb for always being there and being a real music conveyer and lover; anytime you ever want to talk about any of this wonderful American music, you call me anytime.
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