Dramatic Re-enactment: As the sun finally breaks through the Michigan morning mist, Ted Nugent has already wrapped up his pre-dawn hunt. He strides through the door, barely looking at the priceless musical artifacts around him. His intimate familiarity with his surroundings allows him to navigate through an orderly maze of guitars, amps, and consoles by instinct. Nugent hangs his bow in its assigned place of honor, its work done for the day. Sitting back he swings his boots onto the desk with an authoritative thud and begins to scan the day’s work. Request after request from journalists are piled up, all hoping for a chance to glean some insight from the Motor City Madman. After shuffling through a few with a sigh he spots something new; a set of questions that zone in with laser-like precision. This interview hones in on the essence of all that is Ted, and will allow him to succinctly define his outlook and his drive! Inspired, he sets to the query with relish…*
* I made all this up. What actually happened was I asked Ted to answer some questions, and he said “sure”.
Nugent’s 14th studio album The Music Made Me Do It is yet another testament to the fact that this man has no desire to slow down. Since 1964, when he formed The Amboy Dukes, Ted has driven forward relentlessly. He is always true to his passions and philosophies. A legend in rock, he is also keen to point out those who came before him and their impact on all of us. In this conversation, we get to enjoy Nugent’s trademark verbal virtuosity, but pay attention to what he is conveying. There is universal truth in much of what he tells us.
You reference some of the fathers of blues/rock in your new song “The Music Made Me Do It.” Do you think young musicians educate themselves enough on those who started it all?
I’m afraid not. The phenomenal musical authority of our American founding fathers of blues, gospel, soul, R&B and rock-n-roll propelled all musicians and all music forever, but with the dumbing down of our society by a failed education system, a petty, biased fake news media and the heartbreaking abandonment of a music industry, those compelling details have been all but lost on predictable cookie cutter pop music and even rap and hiphop that appear clueless to the originators. Quite sad really.
Going back to Damn Yankees, was there a switch in your Modus Operandi being in a collaboration, as opposed to being “The boss”?
Like every musical adventure in my life, I have been blessed to be surrounded by world class musicians from day one, and the jam session that started it all was a fun force to reckon with that we were all excited about. I have always admired these great players so the fire never slowed down and we enjoyed every minute of it.
Do your song ideas tend to generate as physical ideas, like stumbling onto a riff, or abstract ideas, like a melody popping into your head?
Killer music erupts from my Gibson Byrdland on a daily basis, and grinding grooves and exciting guitar patterns have a life of their own. Life inspires me. Freedom inspires me. Mrs. Nugent inspires me. My dogs inspire me. My guns and marksmanship inspire me. Campfires inspire me. My trucks and racecars and trainwrecks and short skirts inspire me. My life is a purple rimmed radar. I absorb and celebrate everything.
How big of a transition was it when you first started playing solid body guitars live? Did you ever instinctively lean over towards an amp for feedback in the heat of the moment? Then realize “oops, the Byrdland is backstage!”
That’s a great, very musically attentive question, and I salute you for it, but no, at the volume I perform at, I can milk feedback from pretty much any guitar. That being said, the mighty Gibson Byrdland is my ultimate baby for full bluntal Nugity sonic bombast expression and always will be.
Are there any aspects of music after all these years that remain a mystery to you?
No. I have a reasonably well rounded fascination and grasp of all music from the very first bowstring twang and stretched skin drumbeat of the prehistorical cave dwellers, right on through the puffy ruffled shirt music of the Euro operas into the beautiful blood and guts blues, gospel, soul, R&B, rock-n-roll, the silly pop and country and right up to the most recent hiphop phenomena. It’s all good but some I crave, some I ignore.
What would you like to tell a young Ted, still in the Amboy Dukes, to do or not do?
I wouldn’t change a damn thing! The pure uninhibited animal musical adventure drove the skinny whippersnapper to such wonderful, outrageous creativity that no one would dare interfere! I am genuinely moved by the whole crazy insanity and continue to celebrate it with aplomb to this very day.
Find out more about Ted Nugent’s new album The Music Made Me Do It at https://www.tednugent.com/