Over the course of his illustrious career, Ted Nugent has carved a permanent place in rock history. To date, the guitar legend and Motor City Madman has sold more than forty million albums and performed just shy of seven thousand shows.
On Nov. 9 Nugent, along with bass virtuoso Greg Smith and drummer Jason Hartless, will release a brand-new album, aptly titled, The Music Made Me Do It. As an added bonus, each CD will include a full-length concert DVD, “Live At Freedom Hill,” captured at the Freedom Hill Amphitheatre in Sterling Heights, Michigan in 2017. To tease the new album and raw energy of his live concert experience, Nugent has also released a video for the album’s title track that was shot at the Canyon Club in Agoura Hills, CA.
AXS recently spoke with Nugent about The Music Made Me Do It, his career and more in this exclusive new interview.
AXS: How did this project come about? What inspired it?
Ted Nugent: It’s not about spurts of inspiration. It’s about constant inspiration. I’m inspired every day I grab a Gibson guitar and go into uncharted territory. I figured out my American freedom and individuality a long time ago. When I’m outdoors and removed from music and the clusterf#ck of politics it cleanses my soul. We all need to escape, but that’s not to say we need to abandon responsibility. I’m so engaged in this beloved experiment in self-government and I raise as much hell in this guitar playing, we the people as I possibly can. I fight for the Constitution, Bill of Rights and freedom, and to raise the battle cry of “America First”. That’s why my music is the most soul cleansing, nature-is-healer, rhythm and blues, rock and roll groove fest.
AXS: What’s your writing process like?
TN: I’ve never in my life sat down with a pen and paper and said, “Hmm. What shall I write a song about today?” [laughs]. F#ck that! I just pick up my guitar and start pounding and create more bastard children of honky tonk and boogie-woogie. My hands start moving and I sing lyrics that are my life. It’s almost out-of-body. I’ve never contemplated chord structures or lyrics. I just love to go on adventures on the guitar neck.
Guitarist, hunter and American advocate Ted Nugent is certainly no stranger to the backwoods of northeastern Pennsylvania. In fact, a recent stop at Penns Peak in Jim Thorpe a few years ago became the setting for Nugent’s 2011 live CD/DVD Ultralive Ballisticrock. Yeah, folks around these parts know that when Uncle Ted’s in town (like he was last night at Penns Peak) – attendance is mandatory!
Nugent’s live show is one part sermon, one part history lesson and one part spiritual revival. It’s a line drawn in the sand where (like most things) Nugent is either admired and solidified for the attitude, or despised for it. But Nugent says let the chips fall where they may. He believes in focusing on quality of life in all of those arenas, because quality of life comes from all of those issues.
Together with his killer band made up of Derek St. Holmes (guitar/vocals); Greg Smith (bass) and Mick Brown (drums), Nugent infused the senses with an arsenal of material at The Peak. Channeling the same blues masters that inspired his own guitar prowess, while continuing to wave the flag for a love of God and country.
In addition to giving the audience a master class in virtuoso musicianship, Nugent thanked the crowd for making his “Spirit of the Wild” the #1 hunting show in the world; took credit for being the most hated man in America by a President; instructed the crowd that the biggest duty of any American is to raise hell and even called upon the spirit of his longtime mentor and blood brother Fred Bear before launching into what Nugent calls the “greatest guitar riff of all time”- “Cat Scratch Fever”. Nugent even gave his fellow hunters and NRA members a dose of “Shut Up & Jam!” – the title track from his new studio album released earlier this month.
Ted Nugent is on the verge of playing his 6,500th live show. To put that into perspective, that would be like playing a concert a night (every night) for almost 18 years. But Nugent himself will tell you that every single one of those shows is the most important show on Earth. It’s why he continues to surround himself with others who are also masters of their craft, and why fans like me are so grateful.
Driving down the long hill that leads from Penns Peak back to the Pennsylvania Turnpike and to my home, I realized that even though the world may be in rough shape, our future is in good hands.
Ted Nugent Set List: (Penns Peak)
Just What The Doctor Ordered
Free For All
Turn It Up
Wang Dang Sweet Poontang
I Can’t Quit You Baby (Otis Rush cover)
Live It Up
Queen Of The Forest
Need You Bad
Shut Up & Jam
Cat Scratch Fever
Great White Buffalo
One could certainly find better adjectives to describe Shut Up & Jam!, Ted Nugent’s first studio album in seven years.
But that’s exactly how the Motor City Madman himself would describe this new collection of blues-inspired songs. Say what you will about his choice of words; it’s safe to say Nugent and his insatiable appetite for honky-tonk bastardization has never sounded better.
In addition to the tasty guitar work you’d expect from a Nugent album, highlights from Shut Up & Jam! include guest vocalist Sammy Hagar performing on the track “She’s Gone” and Nugent’s longtime musical cohort, Derek St. Holmes, showcasing his own soulful vocals on “Everything Matters.”
The release of Shut Up & Jam! will coincide with another summer tour, during which Nugent will be — once again — joined by Holmes plus Greg Smith (bass) and Mick Brown (drums).
I recently spoke with Nugent about Shut Up & Jam!, his Gibson Byrdland and his Kamp For Kids, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
GUITAR WORLD: The music industry has changed so much in the last seven years. What made you decide to release a new studio album?
I’m such a lucky guy, having been 100 percent in charge of my life since I was a teenager. My outdoor lifestyle so cleanses, fortifies me and inspires me that whenever I pick up the guitar, fire comes off of the neck and those killer, grinding grooves happen all the time. Because I’m so involved with so many different aspects of my life and tour like an animal every summer, I just didn’t put the logistics together to record these new songs. I finally couldn’t wait any longer. These songs have a fire in them, and I had to capture them.
Say what you will about his politics, but there’s no denying the fact that Ted Nugent has firmly solidified his place in the annals of music history. Bastardizing the honky tonk from his stints with the Amboy Dukes and Damn Yankees to his hugely successful solo career, the Motor City Madman has performed well more than 6,500 shows over the course of his career – including a recent performance at Sweden Rock Festival in front of 40,000 rock hungry fans.
Whether it’s his music or his politics, Nugent does things on his own terms, and certainly isn’t afraid to tell you how he really feels.
Perhaps it’s one of the reasons why Nugent’s first studio album in seven years, “Shut Up & Jam!” (releasing July 8th) is so powerful. Relishing his spot in the eye of the storm and being on the front lines of the culture war and scourge of political correctness and denial, Nugent once again channels the blues masters that inspired his own guitar prowess while continuing to wave the flag for a love of God and country.
I spoke with Nugent about “Shut Up & Jam!” as well as got his take on the current State of the Union.
It’s been seven years since “Love Grenade”. What was the decision behind releasing a new studio album?
It wasn’t really a decision. The fact is, I’m so involved with so many different aspects of my life and tour like an animal every summer that I just didn’t put the logistics together to record this material. A lot of the songs on “Shut Up & Jam!” are actually a few years old. I’ve been messing around with “Do-Rags and a .45” for at least ten years. “I Still Believe” and “Never Stop Believing” are at least seven years old. “I Love My Bbq” and “Semper Fi” I’ve been working with for a few years. But there are a few new songs on the album. “Fear Itself” is a brand new song and “Everything Matters” is a song that was written at the beginning of this year. These songs all have a fire in them and I finally couldn’t wait any longer. I knew now was the right time to capture them.
What’s the secret to your killer guitar riffs?
It all goes back to the Amboy Dukes and even the Damn Yankees and Ted Nugent band. If you ask any of the guys they’ll tell you. Whenever I pick up my guitar really fun, garage band variations of what Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and the original Boogie-Woogie, Honky Tonk guys did comes out – and this album reeks of that! You really feel that original rhythm and blues structure and pulse in a lot of these songs because those original black artists all inspired me with their work ethic and musical prowess.
Is it ok if we talk a little politics?
Absolutely! But first, let me make something perfectly clear. I am really let down by my fellow Americans who avoid politics or whine “Ah! Stop being so political!” Let me explain what politics are to those who haven’t been educated by our failed education system.
“Politics” in America are the responsibility of “We the People” to remain engaged and a force to reckon with as we direct and demand accountability from our PAID elected officials to adhere to their oath to the U.S. Constitution. “We the People” is not a selective, segregated vision. “We the People” is supposed to be every American who cherishes, values, respects and earns this unique freedom by actually participating in an experiment in self-government. All of us have a moral, intellectual and spiritual obligation to remain in touch with our elected officials.
The fact that Barack Obama, Eric Holder, John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi all hold the most powerful positions in the world is insanity. These are strange creatures that are attempting to fundamentally transform America into a SHIT HOLE! But I (as a “We the People” participant) will not let them do it without warrior-like resistance. I am a political animal because an American is supposed to be one. People who avoid politics are avoiding their duty and responsibility as a good American to demand accountability from our employees in elected office.
If you had Obama, Clinton and Holder all in the same room with you, what would be the first thing you would do?
I’d probably pace back and forth and then start off by saying “What in God’s name are you people doing? Why are you lying?” Then I would play them tapes of all of their lies and show them the historical evidence that shows how their fundamental transformation vision has destroyed every society it has touched.
The statistics are irrefutable and inescapable. Whenever liberal democrats run things, it’s a WRECK! It’s like their dream of having a gun-free zone – it already exists! It’s Chicago. And since you and I have gotten on the phone James, twenty people have been shot! Why would you want more of that?
What are your thoughts about what’s going on in Iraq right now?
It’s a perfect example of what I’ve just outlined. The insane community organizer rules of engagement. The fact is, the Middle East is a series of training areas for people who want to pull off another 9/11. You don’t reasonably secure the nucleus of terrorist training and then just leave. You don’t abandon them and let them use all of our equipment and have it eventually find its way into the hands of the enemy. Why do you think there are still American forces in Germany and Japan? Because the Japanese empire and the Nazi’s were PURE EVIL! We’re there to keep our eyes on them, and if we ever see any more of that Japanese empire or Nazi bullshit – we will nip it in the bud. But we didn’t do that in Iraq? That’s insanity!
Do you think something like term limits for all members of Congress would help?
In a world with this course of apathy and where people are not paying attention term limits is a good idea. But that’s not going for the real cause. That’s going for one of the effects. The real cause is that “We the People” don’t monitor the activities of our elected officials. My problem with term limits is that if citizens really monitored their congressmen properly, they would know if he’s not doing a good job or less than a good job. And if he’s not doing a good job you don’t need term limits – you vote him OUT!
But what if he’s doing a great job and he’s steam rolling the status quo? What if he IS getting accountability and IS cutting the waste, corruption and fraud? Well then you don’t want to term limit him out – you want to keep him IN! I think term limits are an escape hatch for a nation of wimps. If we can’t monitor them like we’re supposed to, it’s counter-productive.
Do you think there’s hope for America?
Absolutely. I travel and hang out with people everywhere. I don’t just rock and roll and then order room service. I’m on the phone with people and meet with working class people and community leaders and get a pulse of every city I’m in. I meet with these people and hear what they’ve witnessed and what they believe and I know that they’re getting fed up. I think we can take this country back and stop the hemorrhaging debt atrocity and teach people to instead being blood-suckers waiting for a hand out to be productive. I really do believe that.
Since REO Speedwagon’s arrival on the scene 40-plus years ago, the band has seen a lot of musical changes. Touring relentlessly through the Midwest in the 1970s, they finally broke through, scoring a pair of No. 1 hits in the 1980s. They also had the bestselling rock album of 1981, Hi Infidelity.
Some might even say they were the originators of the term “power ballad.”
And although the band also has gone through a few personnel changes over the years, they never cease to bring their lineup of hits to eager fans every year.
The band, which includes Kevin Cronin (vocals, rhythm guitar), Dave Amato (guitars), Bruce Hall (bass), Neal Doughty (keyboards) and Bryan Hitt (drums), performed 96 shows last year and are on pace to do an equal amount in 2014, including a summer co-headlining tour with Chicago.
I caught up with Amato, who recently celebrated 25 years with REO Speedwagon. I asked him to reflect on his career with REO and his affection for guitars and vintage gear. He also told me about an important lesson he learned from his early years working with Ted Nugent.
GUITAR WORLD: Twenty-five years with REO Speedwagon. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think about that?
I think brothers. We’ve been together for 25 years, and these guys are my friends and my brothers. It’s great playing with them every night.
Can you tell me the story of how you joined the band?
My friend Jesse Harms was a keyboard player in Sammy Hagar’s band and was also writing songs with Kevin [Cronin]. Gary [Richrath] wasn’t with the band anymore and they were looking for a guitar player. They didn’t want to put out a “cattle call” for people in LA, so Jesse mentioned me to Kevin and they gave me a few songs to see what I could do with them. I remember I went in on a Friday around 1 p.m. We played a few of the songs together and then played a little basketball. Then we went back in and jammed again until around 5. That was when they offered me a spot in the band. It’s a good story and was just meant to be.
Regardless of what you think about his politics, there’s no denying the fact that Ted Nugent has solidified his place in rock history.
In addition to his successful solo career and his stints with the Amboy Dukes and Damn Yankees, the Motor City Madman has performed well more than 6,000 shows and contributed some of the most memorable guitar licks the rock world has ever heard.
Nugent’s new live CD/DVD, Ultralive Ballisticrock (set to be released October 22), isn’t just a souvenir of a kick-ass rock concert. It’s an experience — a spiritual revival, sermon, history class and rally for America rolled into one.
Nugent and his band, including Derek St. Holmes (guitar/vocals), Greg Smith (bass) and Mick Brown (drums), were filmed and recorded by seven cameras in 5.1 audio mix during Nugent’s 2011 I Still Believe Tour.
I recently spoke to Nugent about the new CD/DVD. We also talk his most famous guitar licks and more.
Regardless of your own political persuasion, there can be no denying that conservative rocker Ted Nugent has firmly solidified his place in the annals of history.
In addition to a hugely successful music career that’s seen him perform well over 6,000 shows, the Motor City Madman is also a radio personality, an actor/reality star, host of his own outdoor show (Spirit Of The Wild) as well as a Washington Times contributor.
On the musical end of the spectrum, Nugent’s new live CD/DVD “ULTRALIVE BALLISTICROCK” is not just your typical kick ass rock concert. Together with his killer band made up of Derek St. Holmes (guitar/vocals); Greg Smith (bass) and Mick Brown (drums), Nugent’s live show is one part sermon, one part history lesson and one part spiritual revival. It’s a line drawn in the sand where (like most things) Nugent is either admired and solidified for the attitude, or despised for it. But Nugent says let the chips fall where they may. He believes in focusing on quality of life in all of those arenas, because quality of life comes from all of those issues.
Recorded by seven cameras in 5.1 audio mix during Nugent’s 2011 “I Still Believe Tour” at Penn’s Peak in Jim Thorpe, PA; “Ultralive Ballisticrock” captures the raw, primal essence of Ted Nugent at his musical best. DVD/Blu-Ray bonus footage includes “Spirit of the Wild” and The Making of ULTRALIVE BALLISTICROCK.
Personally, I’ve seen dozen’s of shows at Penn’s Peak over the years and thought I knew a thing or two about the venue and the people there. But as you’ll see in this interview, Nugent makes me aware of something I never knew about Penn’s Peak and his audiences.
You can say what you will about his stand on hunting and Second Amendment rights, but when you interview Ted Nugent, you can’t help but come away with the knowledge of having spoken to a man who not only is a musical legend, but one who also truly loves his country.
I spoke with Nugent about the new CD/DVD release and also got his thoughts on some of the most important issues of the day.
What made you decide to do this particular live CD/DVD?
What Greg [Smith], Mick [Brown] and Derek [St. Holmes] bring to every concert is intense. It’s so compelling and satisfying for me. I’m just proud and so moved by what these guys do that if it wasn’t me up on stage, I’d buy a front row ticket just to see them. Every concert is a musical orgy of fun and grind and funk and passion and spirit and attitude. I figured, “My God, we’ve got to capture this, right now!”
Was there a reason why you decided to film the Penn’s Peak performance?
It’s a special place. All of my audiences are the best in the world, and I have well into the 50-60 percentile of deer hunters in attendance. But at Penn’s Peak, it’s 100 PERCENT! You can smell guts in my audience. It brings an ultimate effervescence to the entire procedure! [laughs].
How would you describe your live show?
Chuck Berry meets Natty Bumppo in the bend of the Louis and Clark exploratory advance meat man point of view! I don’t think any musical force ever in the history of the world has more fun than my band and audiences. If you’re not having fun with me, you’re weird!
You take a lot of heat for some of your views. What are some of the things you think liberals just don’t understand?
It’s not really a matter of understanding. Liberalism is a cult of denial. One where discomforting information is discarded. It would be similar to having Old Yeller foaming at the mouth, and you keep telling yourself that he doesn’t have rabies; versus someone like me who would just shoot the f$cking dog! [laughs].
Let’s start right at the tip of the culture war spear: gun control. How can you possibly deny, when the irrefutable facts from every major source (United Nations, FBI, Scotland Yard) has concluded that a gun free zone (where liberals have accomplished their dream of banning guns) has become the number one murder zone in the world? Columbine, Virginia Tech, Aurora Theater, Sandy Hook – all of them, gun free zones. So, now that we all know that the most innocent of lives are lost in gun free zones, how can you begin to explain why someone would want more of them? An intelligent, caring soul is aghast at such a mind-set where you’d want to increase injurious conditions.
Another example of the anti-gun insanity revolves around my lifestyle of eating venison. Wherever liberals have succeeded in banning a certain type of hunt (California mountain lions for example), they’ve actually increased the killing of them. But, only after the mountain lions have either killed people, maimed people or destroyed millions of dollars worth of livestock and personal property, and then your tax dollars go to help clean up the mess you didn’t allow to be cleaned up before the mess happened. If there had been a hunting season, all of those alpacas wouldn’t have been eaten.
Then we’ll move on to the whole welfare thing. Who can deny that the big lie of entitlement has actually brainwashed people into celebrating dependency? How about not giving a bonus for being non-productive and instead chiding people into getting an alarm clock and being productive? You’d be much happier and more self-sufficient if you were independent. These are good things.
The bottom line though is that liberals are crazy, deranged people and I’m always right! It’s pretty simple, actually. [laughs].
Having now seen the effects of what’s happened in Michigan, do you ever lament not running for governor?
Occasionally. But the suicidal death march of Detroit actually began back in the early 1960’s when the most positive, productive, proud Detroit was strangled by liberal democrats who chastised them for being so positive and productive. They engineered the greatest city in the world to stop caring. But let’s look beyond that. The entire state of Illinois is more bankrupt than Detroit, and the entire state of California is more bankrupt than Detroit. They’re just living on a lie.
What are your thoughts on what’s happening in Syria?
That’s a cluster f$ck if ever there was one. I’ll go with what the military pros that I speak with say and suggest that we should just let them kill each other. Both sides are our enemy. One side is basically the Taliban and the other is basically Al Qaeda. They all want to kill us and anyone who’s not a member of their gang. They both preach that. It pains me to have to say that because there’s untold number of innocents involved in the crossfire, but I don’t believe America can be the world’s cops. But I do believe that any enemy who can metastasize to have the capability of a 9/11 we must obliterate.
Those that hate freedom and America and Christians will do anything they can to destroy us and the sad part of it is our President is basically feeble. He’s not a force to be reckoned with and I thought the President of the United States should be the definitive force to reckon with. How ugly is it that a guy who loves his country so much has to say that about his President? I’m surprised I’m not playing the blues.
Do you think the real plan of the enemy isn’t so much about having us invade countries or fighting skirmishes, but rather the notion of having us spend untold billions of dollars endlessly fighting them until it inevitably bankrupts us from within?
All of the above. I’ve got it from inside authority. Are you aware of the Department of Defense’s recent summit? There was a debriefing recently where they identified that OTM’s (Other Than Mexican) are coming in through our porous borders and are slowly bankrupting us. They’ve identified that 90% of the wild fires in America are purposely set by either Taliban or Al Qaeda operatives. And why? Because it costs us trillions of dollars to fight these fires. There’s a lot of stuff going on that America doesn’t know about.
Have you given thought to running for President yourself?
God, wouldn’t that be awesome? Just the debates alone. Everyone gathering around their televisions to watch me gut my opponents! [laughs]. I doubt it. Although I am in communication with some of the most dedicated, patriotic statesmen in the country. I’m in touch with people who really care. I don’t think I’m going to run, but boy am I going to put pressure on those who do.
Do you have any advice for us as human beings?
God Almighty, take better care of yourself. Think about the precious gift of life and don’t allow poisons into your sacred temple. Look around you and ask honestly if your conduct is beneficial to your quality of life and the quality of life of your family and fellow-man or if it’s detrimental. That’s the mantra of the Nugent family.
There’s always going to be hate, but I’m dedicated to always conducting myself in such a way to benefit others. If more people would be conscientious about the effect of their cause, America would be a much better place.
ULTRALIVE BALLISTICROCK will be released on October 22nd and be available in three formats including a 2CD+DVD deluxe edition, DVD, Blu-Ray as well as digital download!
For more on Ted Nugent check out his official site by Clicking Here