Ted Nugent Never Shutting Up!

By Jeb Wright
Photos: James & Marilyn Brown


Ted Nugent has released a new album on Frontiers Records titled ShutUp&Jam! The album features Nugent playing his rock and roll ass off on a set of new songs.  In fact, this is the best studio effort released by The Motor City Madman since the late 1970’s.  The songs are fresh, loud, rocking and totally Nugent-ized! 

After all of these years, after all of his rants on CNN, and after all of those dead animals he has killed and grilled, Ted Nugent is still, at his core, a rock and roll son of a bitch guitar player from Detroit city.  Nugent slays on this album, jamming insane lick after insane lick. 

The album title makes one really wonder if Ted’s really shutting up and just jamming.  Oh come on, there’s no way that’s going to happen, but the truth of the matter is that he is, at least on this album, putting aside the things in this country that drive him crazy and dealing with it all by plugging in his Gibson Byrdland guitar and cranking it up to 12—11 would never be loud enough for the Nuge!

In the interview that follows Ted sits down with Classic Rock Revisited to discuss the making of the new album, and, of course, talk about some of his detractors, the fact that he went squirrel hunting that day and what we can expect next, musically out of Uncle Ted!

Let’s just say it’s gonna be a little bit of everything!

Jeb: When I heard that opening note on “ShutUp&Jam” fly out of your Gibson Byrdland I said, “Nugent’s back!” 

Ted: You know what I think? I think that we are both on our knees, reveling in the garage band-ness. I think I know you, like you know me; I’m an easy guy to read and you’re an easy guy to read. What stimulates us, and what makes us want to dance, and what makes us smile, can be categorized as uppity, defiant, fun, tight, authoritative garage-band irreverent kick-ass rock and roll.  

Jeb:  That comes across loud and clear.  I love in “ShutUp&Jam” where you say, and I will paraphrase, that politics are fucked… the only thing that will save America is rock and roll. 

Ted: Who else could have written a song called “ShutUp&Jam” but me?  I am an organic guy.  I don’t over-think anything.  I respect, and work, on my intellect as much as possible so that I make proper and cleaver and positive decisions in life.  When it comes to music, however, I can just turn the brain off. My guitar is plugged into my balls—and my spirit. 

Jeb: Even though you write from the heart, during this time, did you ever think, “That’s almost too Nugent for Nugent.” 

Ted: No, I really don’t.  I know that anything that comes blowing up off my guitar is so me.  We’ve talked about this before, I don’t think the music loving public—I was going to say that they don’t understand the spontaneity of my career and my musical statements and visions.  Now, however, with Facebook--if you want to have the time of your life, mostly good, but unfortunately in this time of good, bad and ugly, there is also bad and ugly, there are people that want to kill me because I eat venison.  That is how sick some people can be.  But, the positive, celebratory spirit of the millions of people that I communicate with on Facebook every day is a great thing. 

What a relief that there are open-minded, educated, intellectual real rock and roll lovers, real soul music lovers and real rhythm and blues aficionados out there.  They don’t ask any questions about where it comes from or how it happens.  They know that the first Amboy Dukes album was a seventeen-year-old kid that just let it rip.  They know that “Hibernation” and “Migration” and that every record I ever made was just how I felt.  They know it is just a natural thing, and that it is just spontaneous and honest as you’d ever want your music to be.  I think the vast majority of the people who pay attention to my music get that completely. 

Jeb: “Screaming Eagles” and “Semper Fi” are my favorite two.  What did Derek, Greg and Mick think when you brought those tunes in? 

Ted:  We are all from the same soul music camp, so to speak.  In my 66 year life, I have found that you migrate towards people who are honest and friendly and good and positive.  In my music world, those attributes manifest themselves.  You only go through life once, and you end up migrating towards and attracting like-minded good, confident, intelligent, caring, positive, friendly, generous and fun people. 

In all of those categories I just mentioned are attributes of really good people.  This band has those attributes and we all have that in the music we all love, and it is very diverse and far reaching.  We are talking about everything from John Coltrane to Bruno Mars and everything in-between.  I think the tightness, soulfulness and that the band cares to play well and communicate with each other to communicate the emotion and passion of the song…I think that attracts real music lovers everywhere. 

Jeb:  Lyrically, which is something people don’t talk to you about, or they complain about what you say, the song “Never Stop Believing” is very cool.  You step down off that Nugent platform, and the real guy comes out. 

Ted: Be very careful there, Jeb, as the real guy is always there.  When life’s adventures, especially in this culture, I am lured by the civil rights heroes, and I am lured by others complications and compromises in life. I want to celebrate that you’re not alone, and that I really do hear Martin Luther King, and I do believe that you should judge by content and character and not by the color of skin. 

I am afraid that America is being led by a guy who is being voted in by the color of his skin rather than by his character.  I don’t have to presume that, as I have heard the man-on-the-street interviews with Howard Stern where he went down to Harlem and asked people why they voted for him and they all said, “Because he’s black.”  Really?  Why don’t we just go down to Martin Luther King’s grave and piss on it?  

Jeb: Damn.

Ted: That’s not why he died.  He wanted his children to be judged by their content and character and not by the color of their skin.  Good God in heaven!  I am sure someone reading that statement right there will, once again, dig a hole so they can get below humanity and claim that it is racist.  You know they will, and that’s insane.  I am not afraid of exposing my beliefs even in a world of political correctness, dishonesty and denial. 

Jeb: That said, it’s a great song!

Ted: I think the song is a monster.  I think it is a beautiful song.  It is as honest and sincere as anything in the human experience, and I am very, very proud of it.

Jeb: Let’s not forget that opening guitar riff either. 

Ted: It’s a monster.  My guitars have a life of their own. 

Jeb: Talk about “She’s Gone” which Sammy Hagar sings with you.  You and Sammy go way back. 

Ted: Montrose opened up for us in ’74 and ’75.  I will never forget that I would see him on the side of the stage---we all of course loved Montrose because they came from that same black school of rhythm and blues.  “Bad Motor Scooter” is a rhythm and blues song, except that it is uppity like a rock song…“Rock Candy” my God, almighty. 

Anyway, every night after they opened, on the side of stage would be Sammy, Bill [Church], Ronnie [Montrose] and Denny [Carmassi] watching our entire show every night. We became good friends because we all came from that school of black soulful music.  We all come from the same work ethic that you practice and make the music tight and authoritative, honest and sincere.  I’ve been onstage jamming with Sammy dozens of times.  I’ve jammed with him, and he with me, and I’ve been onstage with Van Halen, the Waboritas and even with Montrose.  There is a mutual admiration society between us.  We have the same work ethic and the same musical ethic. 

I just insisted that Sammy and I make music together and we did.  Sammy and I talk often. We bullshit and keep in touch, we’re just buddies.  I told him over the years that there would be a day where we would make music together.  I wasn’t available for Chickenfoot, and I don’t even know if they were considering me.  Joe Satriani does not need to be replaced, as he is a guitar playing motherfucker. 

I knew we were getting older and I know that Sammy has expressed in interviews that he doesn’t want to write pop songs or make Top 40 records.  Instead, he wants to jam with people he respects.  I knew “She’s Gone” was a Sammy Hagar style song, so I sent it to him. 

“She’s Gone,” even though it was written a long time ago…Jeb you need to Google “Ted Nugent Charlie Daniels Volunteer Jam ‘She’s Gone.’”  I wrote that song twenty some years ago, thirty years ago maybe.  I got onstage with Charlie Daniels and I said, “You know that song ‘Going Down’ that Freddie King and Jeff Beck did?  I’ve got a song called ‘She’s Gone’ and instead of going down, it goes up.  It’s ‘Going Down’ upside down.”  We played it without rehearsing and it is a motherfucker. 

Jeb: You’ve got balls, man. 

Ted: [laughter]

Jeb: You were voted the greatest guitar player from Detroit.  I believe that, but I have feeling you don’t. 

Ted: I was really surprised.  I have something I need you to investigate.  You need to check this out.  It should really offend you, because it really offended me.  Everybody is raving about the new record and, yes, I was voted the all-time best guitar player from Detroit, which is just an honor beyond a dream, but here’s a media hate-attack on me from my own hometown of Detroit.  I have my laptop here, so let me get to this right now.  This just shows the insanity of the left-gagged media. 

There was a press release about the 25th anniversary of my Ted Nugent Kamp for Kids.  Some guy named Brett Callwood from the Metro Times Detroit…just listen to this:  “Ted Nugent’s Kamp for Kids.  It just needs one more “K,” doesn’t it?  Remember that old Simpsons gag, where Bart goes to the “Krusty Komedy Klassic”? Sometimes the truth is stranger than fiction.”   This motherfucker is equating my Kamp for Kids, with a lot of Black kids, Hispanic kids and Indian kids in it, as a Klan event. 

Here is what he says, “Yep, Ted Nugent wants to teach your children morals. So who’s game? By the end of the Kamp, your kids will be (allegedly) aware that their candy is their own and shouldn’t be shared, that the weak children should be killed and eaten, and that the Amboy Dukes are the greatest garage rock to have ever come out of Detroit.”  What a prick.  That is the kind of hate I deal with.  My Kamp for Kids is a charity.  The parents get gushy and emotional on how it has saved some of their kids’ lives and how it has given their kids an ultimate positive direction in their life, and this guy compares it to the Klan.  I am used to that.  I guess there is good, bad and ugly in life.  Thank God there is still more good than bad and ugly.  I couldn’t hire a comedy script writer to write dumber shit than that.  Isn’t that something?  

Jeb:  At least he knew of the Amboy Dukes. 

Ted:  I think the Amboy Dukes certainly qualify in the top one percent of the all-time best garage bands. 

Jeb: I am very good friends with Roger and Linda Earl from Foghat. 

Ted: I just saw them in Sweden.  We spent some time with them, and of course their singer, Charlie Huhn, used to be in my band. 

Jeb:  They had people angry because they put up a picture of you with the band.  What is wrong with the world?

Ted: It’s wild.  It’s crazy.

Jeb: I don’t agree with everything you say.  You don’t agree with everything that I believe.  But this is America.

Ted: Hello? 

Jeb: You tell your opinions, but because of that, you put up with a lot of crap.

Ted: Here is the thing: I don’t want everybody to own a gun.  I want to own guns.  The people who hate me don’t want to choose not to own a gun; they want to choose for me not to own a gun.  I don’t want everybody to go hunting, fishing and trapping, but the haters don’t want to choose not to hunt fish and trap, they want to demand that I don’t hunt, fish and trap.  It’s a big difference.  So, shut up and jam motherfuckers!

Jeb:  You don’t need any more awards, or money or fame.  Why not just chill out?  You’re 66 and you’ve done your part.  Take it easy.  Why keep putting out albums?  But you are still putting out quality music.   

Ted: I am taking it easy!  This is really easy for me.  My work ethic makes this easy.  I am sitting here with two tired Labradors from a squirrel hunt this morning.  I played some licks on my guitar that are going to become monstrous new songs.  I’m getting ready to go on a monstrous tour with the greatest musicians who love the music like we do.  Why would anybody put a halt to that? 

Jeb:  You are playing at a high level.  I heard mostly Gibson Byrdland all over this album, which is that classic Nugent guitar sound. 

Ted: There is a lot of Byrdland on this album.  There is Byrdland on every song. 

Jeb:  This is the most Byrdland guitar on a Nugent album than even Spirit of the Wild, back in 1995 or 1996. 

Ted: I think you might be right.  I played some of my old Les Paul’s on Spirit of the Wild.  That was another Michael Lutz project.  I love that record. The songs on that album are monster songs.  I am a whimsical guy as well.  I am going to grab the guitar on a whim.  I have so many monster guitars that have such a monster voice and killer unique sounds.  I grab what I want, but I usually go for the Byrdland because it has such a unique voice.  I grabbed it for this record because I think the songs demanded the Byrdland. 

Jeb:  The rumor is that there are more songs than these in the can, and that another album will be soon. 

Ted: They are not in the can, but they are certainly in my mental repertoire.  I have a whole bunch of killer licks.  The next album, I suppose we can talk about it, may even happen in 2015.  As of this moment in time, this is what I believe: the next album will be called Ted Nugent: EverythingEverything will be about everything.  One will be called “Sex is Everything.”  We will have “Freedom is Everything” and “Attitude is Everything,” “Spirit is Everything,” “Guns are Everything,” “My Dogs are Everything,”  “Guitars are Everything,” “Music is Everything.” Every song is going to say that something is everything.  It is a cranker.  It kind of offshoots from the song “Everything Matters,” that kind of honey talk, grunt and grind stuff.  I have one that is the Godfather of Motor City Madhouse, so God help us all. 

Jeb: Last one: Bless you Uncle Ted for keeping this kind of music alive, as it keeps me young.

Ted: Jeb, thank you for celebrating it with me.  It’s all about sharing it with the masses.  Music is the ultimate communication.  For me to be able to communicate it through guys like you that help me do that…I love ya, man.  I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it.  On behalf of the Nugent band, and the crew, and certainly my family, and all music lovers everywhere, God bless you Jeb.  You’re doing God’s work there, and it’s good to have you as a musical blood brother.