Ted Nugent Interview: Guitar Legend Sends Biden Musical Message
Image attributed to Jordan A Brown
Ted Nugent is a legendary guitarist who’s best known for his '70s hard rock classics “Cat Scratch Fever” and “Stranglehold.” He is a political provocateur who boldly espouses conservative talking points with a bombastic style.
Nugent’s forthcoming album, Detroit Muscle, is a vehicle for his right-wing views. The album, which features the anthemic gun rights stomp “Come and Take It,” drops on April 29, 2022, via Pavement Music.
"Two songs on the album, “Come and Take It” and “American Campfire,” are both predictable yet unchartered. You know what I mean?"
Smashing Interviews Magazine: How are you doing today, Ted?
Ted Nugent: I’m doing so good, it’s stupid. I’ve got three beautiful dogs, and they’re completely worn out laying under the bed with me. So what more happiness is there to mankind than happy, worn-out dogs, and you and me talking about my music? (laughs) If I’m above ground with my dogs, my bow and arrow, my guitar, my machine gun and my beautiful sexy wife, nothing else matters. Last night, we had this outrageous weather. My favorite thing in life is a blizzard, but in Texas, there ain’t gonna be no blizzard today. Have you ever been in a real blizzard?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: In Alabama, the worst snow blizzard that I can remember was in 1993.
Ted Nugent: Melissa, listen to my music. There’s an instrumental titled “Winter Spring Summer Fall,” because I’m an outdoorsy guy. Growing up in Michigan in those blizzards is directly influential in my guitar playing, my song creation and my overall attitude because Mother Nature’s a bitch, but I still love her. Camping out in a tent below freezing in a snowstorm is one of the most sensually stimulating occurrences this side of one of my concerts. So with weather, I’ll take whatever the good Lord throws my way.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Let’s talk about the new music on Detroit Muscle. What was the general idea behind the album, and what can your fans expect from the music?
Ted Nugent: I’m 73.4 years clean and sober, so all my shit works pretty good (laughs). My radar picks up accurate information, and my brain processes it. I then act upon it with reasonable reasonability.
I started in 1956 really playing the guitar, and I had a little combo. I think it was me and a drummer back in 1957 in Detroit. So the obsessiveness and the total immersion into my musical adventure has never changed. As an old man, I’m even more intense than I was back then because I’ve been clean and sober, and stuff still works properly. The album happened to be recorded in the sacred part of Michigan right in the middle of a beautiful fen. How old are you, Melissa?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I’m a very young 66-year-old.
Ted Nugent: Alright. Well, you are a young lady, so my references of life won’t be lost on you (laughs). At our age, we know pretty much everything we need to know.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Yes, indeed, but rarely ever fooled and always still learning.
Ted Nugent: (laughs) The most important thing we know is we never stop learning. The point being is that my music is such a force. My music has inspirations from Chuck Berry and Little Richard, Bo Diddley and the Motown Funk Brothers, James Brown’s intensity and the soulfulness of all these black heroes. I’ve always been fascinated by that soulfulness and that defiance. Little Richard. I mean, come on. How about the punk bands? I’m sorry, you guys weren’t punks! Little Richard established that bar! You guys didn’t even come close.
My point is that in 2022, this is the most important thing. Jason Hartless was on drums, a 24-year-old animal from Detroit, and Greg Smith was on bass guitar. Greg’s been with me for 15 years. These guys are such musical beings. They’re a musical force. There’s something innate and instinctive in their living, breathing musicality that, when I unleash one of my new songs upon them, it becomes theirs. They own it, and they put such heart and soul into everything. This goes all the way back to the Amboy Dukes and Damn Yankees and all these incredible musicians I’ve always been surrounded with. That’s really the force of my music all these years.
So what they can expect from Detroit Muscle is more of the same but just new. It’s new but it’s reminiscent, it’s historical, and it’s forward thinking. I’d like to think that my music is like sex. You should not get into a routine (laughs). You should be able to expound your adventure in every endeavor, and certainly my music is the epitome of that adventure expansion. Two songs on the album, “Come and Take It” and “American Campfire,” are both predictable yet unchartered. You know what I mean? We like new music, but we want familiarity at the same time, but we don’t want routine. So that’s what they can expect, I think.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: “Come and Take It” is about the Second Amendment to the Constitution. Did you actually send a copy to President Biden saying, “If you’re gonna infringe on our Second Amendment, start with me?”
Ted Nugent: Yeah. I sent a copy of “Come and Take It” to Beto O’Rourke and Joe Biden. Yes. “Come and Take It” is a political middle finger. Of course, it is, because a political middle finger is way overdue, and a political middle finger has always been the impetus for the destruction of evil forces, corruption and criminality. Joe Biden. But also, equal to that is that it wouldn’t matter what the content is in the message of the song. It’s just a great piece of music. With Greg and Jason, the energy and the love of the groove, the conveyance of the spirit of the chords and the pulse of the music, it could be a song about planting trees, I suppose. Maybe that wouldn’t be quite as sexy, but the music itself is like “Street Fighting Man” by the Stones. It could be about a number of subjects because of the pulse of the song and the rhythm of the song.
All our favorite songs have those components. That’s why they become our favorite songs. But in this day and age of just runaway corruption, abuse of power and threats against our freedoms by this rotten, soulless government, it’s even more appropriate. So we’re very, very proud that it’s a sold piece of music, groove and pulse but that it also has a very important and long overdue message.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You obviously have problems with President Biden. But do you actually think that the government would confiscate all of your guns without cause or that it would be easy to repeal the Second Amendment?
Ted Nugent: Look at New York and the Gun Safety Act. It turned millions of New Yorkers into felons because they own a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds. First of all, limiting the rounds in your magazine is an infringement, and they already did it. I’ve got to tell you. There is no Second Amendment right now.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: (laughs) It’s still there.
Ted Nugent: Well, let me explain that. By the way, as I speak to you, you’re obviously a journalist, so that’s covered by the First Amendment. You and I have been speaking freely, so that’s the First Amendment. The truck convoy is doing a peaceful protest against government intrusion. That’s the First Amendment. You and I can choose our own religion or not. That’s the First Amendment. So we’re living our first Amendment right here today as you and I communicate. Can you show me the license that gives you to the right to your First Amendment? I know your silence is appropriate because you’re going, “I don’t need no damn permit.”
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Of course, not. It’s part of the Bill of Rights that was added to the Constitution.
Ted Nugent: It’s from God. The founding fathers wrote it down because it’s a self-evident truth. Are you still with me? Where is your First Amendment good? Let me answer that question. Everywhere! Is there a street corner in America where you don’t have a First Amendment right? It applies to everyone.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: But there are certain exceptions to freedom of speech like defamation, true threats, fraud, inciting imminent illegal action, etc.
Ted Nugent: Oh, okay. But in my life, it’s good everywhere, in every building, every street corner and every field. It’s good everywhere without paperwork. Let’s go to the Second Amendment now, shall we? How could anyone attempt to rationalize another man would issue paperwork for my God-given right guaranteed by the Constitution? I don’t want to argue. I don’t want to debate it. Let me just make an emphatic statement of self-evident truth. God gave me the right to keep and bear arms on planet earth withoutgovernment paperwork. Case closed. Now, you and I could debate that if you wish. You would lose. But that’s the reality of it.
Our founding fathers wrote that stuff down in case some horrible human being wanted to play King George. Joe Biden. So it’s a declaration. I have these self-evident truths, freedoms and rights from God as an individual while I am alive on planet earth. That’s my stand. That’s the stand of conscientious, non-shackled, non-brainwashed human beings. Because of the infringements, which are an oath violation by every bureaucrat, it currently doesn’t exist, Melissa. Some man has declared that there’s a building or a street corner or a jurisdiction where that man has somehow determined wrongly, so that he can make the judgment of what, how, when I might defend my life. I dismiss that out of hand. I am in charge of defending my life, and that’s why I get to keep and bear arms. And if they would quit releasing violent monsters into our neighborhoods, my premise would work just fine.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Who is unleashing “violent monsters” into our neighborhoods?
Ted Nugent: (laughs) The engineered recidivism. The democrats are releasing stabbers, shooters, rapists and carjackers every hour of every day, and then they blame the knife or the gun. Actually, they’ve never blamed the knife. They’ve only blamed the gun. When people shoot at people, they should never be let out of their cage ever again. If real justice existed when some bad guy shoots at you, you could shoot back and kill him, so he doesn’t ever get to shoot at anybody ever again. Pretty strong premise, isn’t it, Melissa? (laughs) By the way, now you’re witnessing why the Left is scared to death to debate me because they always lose. Go ahead and review the Piers Morgan attempt on two occasions where I handed him his ass.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: It’s not my job here to debate you during an interview. However, another person reading your words here may want to take you up on the challenge (laughs). I will say that the Second Amendment was ratified in case civilian forces had to come together to fight a tyrannical federal government. Do you really believe that will happen one day?
Ted Nugent: You are absolutely correct. That was the foundational premise, to make sure old King George’s men could never come to Concord Bridge again and disarm us. But it’s the general overview. It is a blanket statement. The people have the right to keep and bear arms, and it does specify it for a well-regulated militia. But then, there’s a comma, and then it says, “the people’s right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” So that covers all uses of firearms in an instinctive and responsible fashion.
Unfortunately, engineered recidivism is infesting our lives, our neighborhoods and our communities with evil, violet, vicious criminals who can get any knife or any gun they want. In every instance, where the Democrats succeeded in creating a gun-free zone, statistically and irrefutably, that’s where the most innocent lives are lost.
Anyway, it isabout the music. That’s why my music is so much fun because it’s uncompromising, it’s verocious, it’s energized, it’s authoritative, and it’s defiant. I think all the best music in the world has an element of defiance.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Speaking of music again, I went to school with Tommy Shaw, one of the core members of Damn Yankees with you, Jack Blades and Michael Cartellone.
Ted Nugent: Tommy’s awesome.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Are the Damn Yankees finished forever?
Ted Nugent: I never liked the word “finished” or “forever,” though some things, I guess, willcome to pass. But what a great musical era that was! What a great monstertalent. I would like to jump forward that inquiry by you to go, why in the living hell isn’t Styx in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Now, we can definitely agree about that particular question.
Ted Nugent: Yeah. You know, Tommy, Jack and I keep in touch, and we’re very proud of the music we created. We’re certainly a music-loving force to be reckoned with who just happen to deliver the music we love. There’s a very talented work ethic in those guys, just really a force to be reckoned with. But you never know. Tommy is so busy with Styx, and then when he’s not touring like a maniac with Styx, he needs a break! Jack Blades is busy with all kinds of music and with Night Ranger, and when he’s not touring with Night Ranger, he needs a break! Mike Cartellone is touring with Lynyrd Skynyrd, and when he gets a break from Lynyrd Skynyrd, he needs a break! I’m so busy with so many things and with making my music, and when I’m not busy with many things, I need a break!
So it’s a matter of whether we all get a break at the same time, get an adequate break, so we can recharge our batteries and then leap into the Damn Yankees fray. It’s highly unlikely but more than unlikely, it’s highly desirable. We all want to make it happen, but there’s only 12 months in a year, dammit! I think we can agree, Melissa, that the greatest philosopher ever was Dirty Harry when he said, “A man needs to know his limitations.”
Smashing Interviews Magazine: (laughs) I thought you were going to say, “Make my day.”
Ted Nugent: Well, that’s certainly one of them or, “Well, do ya punk?” There are so many great philosophical moments. But the most important one is, “A good man knows his limitations.” Tommy, Jack and I and all of our favorite musicians put so much heart and soul into the musical creativity and delivery that we need more than most people. Everybody needs recreation. We need to recreate our spirit and get our batteries charged. So all that taken in consideration, I just don’t know if we can wrangle a few days in the same room together. Let’s hope and pray that we can. But at this time, it’s kind of on standby.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: There have been some crazy stories circulating about you over the years. Which one that is untrue bothers you the most?
Ted Nugent: Oh, how about everything from the media about me is untrue! (laughs) Number one, I’ve never adopted a girl. Number two, I’ve never said a bad word about the Native Americans. Number three, I did not avoid the draft. I never shit in my pants since I was potty trained at age one. Let’s see, what else. Oh, I’m not a racist. I’m not a homophobe. Maybe you could ask my gay friends. Maybe you could ask my black bass player or my Mexican bass player. Since they can’t debate me, they always go back to the hate and the lies. So all those nasty, nasty things are 100% false.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You have also endured many attacks over the years about having sex with underage girls.
Ted Nugent: I’ve never had sex with underage girls since I was underage (laughs). The only underage girls I had sex with was when I was underage (laughs).
Smashing Interview Magazine: You know, the song “Jailbait" you wrote probably didn’t help the narrative.
Ted Nugent: Melissa, the first verse is about stealing a purse. Do you think I’ve ever stolen a purse?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I don’t know. Maybe that should be my next question (laughs).
Ted Nugent: Well, let me make it perfectly clear. The first verse is about stealing purses. I’ve never stolen a purse. The second verse is about stealing cars. I’ve never stolen a car. Are you kidding me? Do you think AC/DC really used strychnine in “T.N.T”? Do you think that Mick Jagger’s a “Street Fighting Man”? Here’s a good one, Melissa. Do you think Eric Clapton shot the sheriff? (laughs) How fucking stupid can people be? It’s a fucking song! It’s a parody!
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I read about a story that involved the mafia in New York City and your concert tee shirts. Is that one true?
Ted Nugent: That is a true one. Ted Koppel and ABC did a story where he interviewed one of the mob guys that kills people, and they said they were really impressed with me and my brother, Johnny, God rest his soul, when we went out and grabbed these guys that were selling my bootlegging tee shirts. We took the bags of tee shirts, and we kicked their ass (laughs). The mob actually appreciated that. That was all around Madison Square Garden with the mob control thing. Little did they know why I was called the Motor City Madman because the mob’s got nothing on me.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Are you still in contact with Donald Trump?
Ted Nugent: Off and on, yes. I keep in touch with Don, Jr., and I certainly support the great man. I really like, no matter what his name might be or what his attitude might be, if he secures the borders. I love that. When he reduces the flow of Fentanyl killing Americans, I love that. When he renegotiates the Paris climate accord so we don’t have to pay for Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and China pollution. I like that. When he makes NATO pay their fair share instead of American taxpayers covering their failing ass, I like that. Should I go on?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: It’s up to you, Ted. I’m here for the duration.
Ted Nugent: I mean, everything he did was so wonderful. I cannot adequately express my love for the man. He held a firm handshake with the Chinese communists, with the Russians and the North Koreans. My God, what a godsend Donald Trump was outside of the corruption of the political infrastructure. What a godsend this man was.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I take it that you aren’t bothered by the fact that Donald Trump was twice impeached?
Ted Nugent: (laughs) They impeached him because he was interfering with their deep state corruption.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: (laughs) What are your feelings on Russia invading Ukraine?
Ted Nugent: Well, you know, I could wax poetic about the corrupt child trafficking and money laundering epicenter of Ukraine, but it’s not a good country, not a good government. It’s pretty ugly, but instead of me worrying about that, I’m worried about my country. I’m worried about a government that is orchestrating the invasion to my southern border of military Jihadis, Somalians and Syrians and MS-13 and orchestrating the importation of Fentanyl Meth that’s killing Americans by the hundreds of thousands. I think that’s a propriety.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: Does it seem believable that you’ve been in the music business about 60 years?
Ted Nugent: Yes, a little over 60 years. How cool am I? Isn’t that awesome?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: If you could go back and give 16-year-old Ted some advice, what would it be?
Ted Nugent: Number one, trust nobody. Trust but verify. As a journalist, you have to almost weep tears of blood with the universal tragic stories of every artist being ripped off by conniving management, record companies, accountants and lawyers. That’s what killed Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and the Motown heroes were ripped off. In every instance, it’s happened to all of us because when we graduate from the American anti-education system, we have no idea in hellabout the foundational premise of capitalism, that a service is worth X, and the creator of that service should get the majority of X. With the hiring of Doug Banker almost 40 years ago, I finally have been getting my just due of X income. All of these poor musicians that have been so viciously and criminally ripped off is just a tragedy.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: You’ve been married over 30 years. How does she do it? (laughs)
Ted Nugent: (laughs) I can’t imagine. I think Mrs. Nugent is an angel that God sent to control my ass. She does a fine job. It’s like when I do interviews about the mandates, the masks and the Wuhan weaponized virus experimental shot. I dismiss out of hand anybody who thinks they can mandate anything to me except Mrs. Nugent. Whatever she mandates, I obey (laughs).
Smashing Interviews Magazine: On tour, are you still avoiding venues that have mandatory Covid-19 regulations?
Ted Nugent: Yeah. I will not perform at any anti-American facility or entity that thinks they can demand paperwork for weaponized experimental shots or the absurdity of the meaningless masks. I so want to tour. I so love my music. I so crave what Jason and Greg do to my songs and the energy and love from the music lovers that have attended my concerts over the years. I so adore and cherish that. Very few things in life motivate me to plunge in totality that compare to my love of music, and I want to go out and play my classic and new songs. Have you heard any other songs off of Detroit Muscle other than “Come and Take It” and “American Campfire”?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I’ve heard the entire album, and I believe that “Driving Blind” may be my favorite.
Ted Nugent: What a great song! What a great jazz song!
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I really liked the bluesy guitar riffs, really smooth.
Ted Nugent: Yes! Thank you for that! So we have that love. It has that soul, and you can imagine that as much as you loved listening to it, can you even comprehend the craving to unleash it and perform it? I play my guitar every day. I’m playing licks these days that God hasn’t authorized yet. I mean, I go into my man cave and just ejaculate unchartered sounds (laughs). It’s so much fun! But to do it in front of an audience that has that equal craving and love of the music with Jason and Greg, I want to do it so bad! But if somebody illegitimately mandates abuse of power in a facility or entity, they can kiss my ass. I’m not going to do it.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I remember when you caught Covid-19 last year, and you said that you felt like you were dying. So you really should take every precaution, don’t you think?
Ted Nugent: Well, I’ve got antibodies. Even when I got it, I had antibodies, and I took that. Here’s another example. Even if there’s somebody you really disrespect or don’t like, would you want them to get sick? Would you rejoice in their sickness?
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I really wouldn’t wish Covid-19 or any of the variants on my worst enemy.
Ted Nugent: Then why did so many do that when I got the Wuhan virus? People say the country is divided. You’re damn right we’re divided because I’m divided from people who are that cruel or hateful. I don’t even know anybody like that.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: I do. As a journalist, one must have a very thick skin and lots of persistence.
Ted Nugent: Isn’t that a shame? Even if they were my enemies, I would never wish suffering on anybody.
Smashing Interviews Magazine: These are scary times. Millions of people have died in this pandemic. I truly hope you stay safe and well out there.
Ted Nugent: And you, too. There’s so much we could talk about. But number one, Melissa, great talking to you. I love Alabama. I love real America. I love you because you’re talking about the things I love. Thank you very much!
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