10 Questions with ... Ted Nugent
August 12, 2014
All Access Exclusive - 10 Questions with Ted Nugent
Ted Nugent recently released a new album "ShutUp & Jam," his first release in seven years. Mark Capuano is one of my colleagues here at All Access and a huge Ted Nugent fan, so when he had an opportunity to interview Nugent, I didn't want Mark to miss this chance.
Here, in Mark's own words were his thoughts after the interview:
"I truly believe, in many ways, Ted Nugent is completely misunderstood. I was warned by countless numbers of people not to take this interview, not to talk to him, he was crazy, he was out of control, he was an extremist, he would bite my head off and spit me out, he would tear me a new on, and so on. Nothing could have ever been further from the truth. Though he is very outspoken and married to his convictions, the man is entitled to his opinions – even if people object to them or the ways he expresses himself."
1)You now have your first album coming out after seven years. I like a lot of these songs. I like "Never Stop Believing" and how you did a rock version and a ballad version.
Isn't that great? It's a different touch! But what you really have to focus on is my team. I have been the luckiest guitar player ever in the history of noise in that going all the way back to Detroit, when I was a kid with the Lourds and the Amboy Dukes, every Ted Nugent outfit and the Damn Yankees, everything I have ever done, I have always been surrounded by world-class virtuosos. And not just incredibly gifted musicians Mark, but gentlemen, hardworking dedicated gentlemen. Fortunately, I think this is always going to be the case.
The best musicians in the world were raised on the same kind of music I was raised on -- and that is black, soulful, authoritative, ultra-tight, ferocious, uppity, defiant music that from the Howlin' Wolf, the Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, the Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Little Richard. Are you kidding me, Little Richard? I want to be Little Richard when I grew up ... and Jerry Lee Lewis ... and I know I am naming black guys, but I will let you tell Jerry Lee Lewis he's not black, LOL ... and right into James Brown, Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding and certainly the Motown Funk Brothers.
So everybody on this record and all my records, again going back to my beginning, we were all possessed and motivated and aspiring to, in our best attempt, to reproduce the authority of those black original founding fathers of the best music in the world. And on this record, it is even more passionate and focused because even Michael Lutz who co-produced with me from Brownsville Station, "Smokin' in the Boy's Room," Andy and Tim Battalion, Alyssa Simmons who sang that incredible Gospel in the Blues version of "Never Stop Believing," with the new drummer Jon Kutz from Waco and certainly Greg Smith on bass guitar (God Almighty), and Johnny B Binary from Mitch Ryder playing with me and Sammy and Greg on "She's Gone," with what Derek St. Holmes did on "Everything Matters," and it is just the greatest team and the musical freedom of American rhythm and blues orgy that erupted every day as we were turning sacred flesh on the grill and laughing and thinking about the early days.
2) I can't imagine you and Sammy in the same room together. So you guys are good friends? Is that how you got together on the song "She's Gone?"
Oh Yeah, Montrose opened up for us a lot in 1974, '75, '76, and they were raised on that same black music. You can tell by the Montrose music, you can tell by Sammy's heart and soul ... it's more Wilson Pickett and James Brown than anyone else. So we always had a musical connection. Plus he's a hard working guy, he's a dedicated guy, he's passionate about the music, so he deserves meJ. We have always jammed onstage together – hell, dozens of times with Van Halen, the Sammy Hagar Band and others. So we have always shared a musical connection and a hard working American family man connection. I have always just yelled at him that we have to do more than just jam, we have to make music together and I knew that "She's Gone" was a perfect vehicle for Sammy's talents, so I sent it to him, he loved it and here we go.
3) Now do you and Sammy intend to do more music together in the future, or was this just a sample test run for us all?
Well, you know, I'm a lucky MF and I don't plan anything. I have been so lucky that my dreams and my musical visions they are a force to be reckoned with, and just like making "Shutup & Jam" it had to happen. I had written most of these songs, or at least half of these songs, in the last seven years. Hell, "Do Rags and A .45" is 10 years old. "I Still Believe" is six or seven years old. "I Love My BBQ" is five or six years old. But it was time and it was just shit-luck that the planets aligned because I had both of my knees replaced in February. I was immobilized, literally immobilized and my life is anything but immobile; I am very mobile. So I was forced to sit down, thank God, literally thank God that all this incredible team was available. They brought all of this state-of-the-art equipment into my little neighborhood outside my ranch near Waco, Texas and we all got together, barbequed, shot machine guns, and just raised hell and celebrated the music that we love and you can hear that energy and positive spirit I think in every song.
4) There are times in my life I get to a point where it is just enough talking, let's shut up and get this done. Is that what Shutup & Jam was all about? Enough talking ... time for action?
Yeah, I think anyone with any brain whatsoever can admit that the greatest philosopher of all times was Dirty Harry. When he said, "A good man has to know his limitations." You know I am a political animal, because for God's sakes I think "We The People" is a job. I think experienced self-government demands on all levels intellectual, moral, historical and spiritual levels. That we are supposed to be engaged and give directions to our elected employees, but are you kidding me? I'm an extremist? I don't think so. People who call me an extremist are extremely brain dead and soulless.
5) Obviously you have been rocking' forever. Do you have a favorite Rock station in America?
Well, I gotta tell you I love everybody that plays my music because if a Rock radio station plays a lot of Ted Nugent music, obviously they are real Rock and Roll. There are actually Rock radio stations in the country that refuse to play my music because I am on the Board of Directors of the NRA. But those are usually tofu-munching freaks with no brain left because of their LSD experiments. It's more of a Timothy Leary shrine. The point being, the vast majority of stations across this country play my songs, they still play "Stranglehold," "Fred Bear" and "Motor City Madhouse," "Hey Baby" and "Wango Tango" -- that's always on the air. The greatest stations and I'm not just saying this because I love my beloved birth state of Michigan, but across the state of Michigan are the best Rock stations in the world. They play deeper cuts; they don't follow such a constricted list of authorized songs, and they're more experimental. So I guess the greatest stations in the world are run by people who are not strangled by the status quo and are actually playing songs off of Shutup & Jam. Those are the best stations!
6) Would be safe to say that the stations were better back in the day when there was less political bullsh*t going around?
Well, it is really important, you got a guy on the phone, the only guy Mark available who hangs out with working hard, playing hard Americans every day. Last night, like every night, we did a military charity the Semper Fi fund and we raised money for the heroes of the military and their families. I get to hang with really generous, hard working Americans from every imaginable walk of life and because they are at Ted Nugent event, obviously they love killer rhythm and blues and rock and roll. The real music and soul music and I hear it every day Mark, every F*in' day, they tell me, "Ted, what happened to radio?" I don't even listen to Rock radio anymore because I don't need to hear 'Stairway to Heaven' or 'Tom Sawyer,' I hear the same shit over and over and over and sometimes I'll turn it on and I will hear '"Stranglehold' and I turn it up."
I'm not saying that my music is the saving grace of Rock radio, but it is getting real constricted, it's getting real predictable and the beauty of Rock and Roll radio when it started in 1967 was that they played music that they loved. The disc jockey, the program director, the station owner, the station manager, everybody, they were serious music fans that loved real music. That's why you heard Moby Grape and that's why you heard Amboy Dukes and you heard Blue Cheer and you heard fun, out-of-the-box music ... and it just doesn't happen much anymore. So those that do, and I guess because it is mine it is a good indicator, but when they play new Ted Nugent Shutup & Jam music, it proves that they are not narrow-minded, they are not status quo, and they're not constricted in their musical celebration. Come on, let her rip, play some new people's music, people will love it.
7) When you are creating a guitar solo, do you generally plan it out or just rock as you go along?
I don't plan nothin', I really don't. It's so spontaneous I wish all rock lovers and rock journalists could witness a Ted Nugent recording session. It is so primal; it's like idiot kids in the garage with their first loud amplifiers. It's intoxicating, it is irreverent, it is uninhibited to the nth degree. It is just ridiculous but because we are all great players, we are all dedicated musicians, dedicated again to that black soulful motivator. It's all spontaneous.
I'll never forget the "Wango Tango" session. It was in the Criteria Studios in Miami when that's when I told Bon Scott he was going to die. AC/DC was doing Highway to Hell and that whole middle ramp in "Wango Tango" was a planned dual harmony guitar solo and I didn't write it out ... just like all the harmony stuff I have ever done or all the solo stuff I have ever done. "Stranglehold" was probably the epitome example, but I knew where it was going to go just musically and instinctually. Because I had such a great night of adventures in Miami Beach the night before, I was so inebriated on the flesh aspect of life that, I just went into that insane rant on "Wango Tango" that you know holds the test of time. It's everybody's favorite insanity rant, but know when I go in to record a solo on "Semper Fi" or "Never Stop Believing," I just instinctually know where it should go and what kind of tone I have. Nothing's really mapped out.
8) It's been seven years since you last put out an album. Do you plan on putting out more albums more often or will it just be however it works out?
I think it was just shit-luck that I was able to do this record because I was immobilized by the double knee-replacement surgery. But I've got so many songs, so many killer songs that didn't make it on this record and other licks that happen every night when I am tuning up before I go on stage. So I've got dozens of just killer grinds, which of course, all my songs come from a grinding, kind of grunting, grooving, guitar lick. They all come from that and that inspires a cadence, it inspires a syllable pulse, and then the music inspires lyrics. "Trample the Weak" could only be "Trample the Weak and Hurdle the Dead;" it couldn't be any other kinda of song and that's what my songwriting boils down to. It is just spontaneous ... grabbing the guitar every day and new songs and new licks erupt. I've got so many right now, I'm hoping that maybe next summer. I'm probably not going to tour next summer, but I think I would like to make another record. But again, that's all just hypothesis right now. It's going to be based on what's going on with my family and what else is going on.
9) How has today's technology affected the way you record and play? Is it a plus? Is it a minus?
Well I will go back to the great Dirty Harry's line of "A good man knows his limitations". (LOL)
I don't know nothin' about the technology. I know that analog has a much more wide range in sonic capability and delivery. But that's why Michael Lutz co-produced it with me, because he is so tuned in to the cutting edge of tomorrow's technology that he knows the advancements or changes -- because some of the changes are not advancements. But those that do enhance the delivery in the final product of the real tone of my Byrdland, the real tone of Mick's drums and John's drums. He has an ear for that original authenticity of tone and the blend of the bass drum, guitar and vocals. He is very specific in what kind of mic and what kind of cable goes from the mic to the board. What is in the board that goes on to the analog or digital technology so I leave that to the technological guys. I'm kind of limited to guitars, machine guns, and wood chippers. I'm really good with hand tools.
I have a laptop because I write. You want to have the time of your life, go to World Net Daily WND.com located here: http://www.wnd.com/. Go to Newsmax.com located here: http://www.newsmax.com/ or even go to Deer and Deer Hunting.com located here: http://www.deeranddeerhunting.com/ and even though it is about deer hunting and conservation, it gets real political and it's really funny, I'm a funny guy. But I write incessantly, I'm very productive, I write for a dozen publications and blogs and websites. A lot of very hardcore political stuff on Newsmax.com and WND.com I write a weekly feature. So I'm busy, busy, busy, and I express myself. But when it comes time to make music, that same absolutely unleashing of total honesty zero inhibitions it just flows like a stream of conscientiousness because I will not be silenced no matter what my point might be. I think that unabashed, uninhibited honesty is appreciated by an awful lot of people who see where that is lacking it is very counterproductive. So yeah, I am a busy guy and I'm hoping to make a record next year, but my knees immobilized me in February with the perfect alignment of the planets to get me to sit down and make some f***n music. (LOL)
10) Right, so it kept you in one place allowing you to write both for the blogs and your album.
Absolutely and I am always writing music. I have got unlimited ideas because I have been clean and sober for my entire life, so everything is working pretty well. In fact, everything is working as good as could possibly be imagined for 66 years old. But the energy is off the charts, the passion for the music is more intense today than ever, it's so much fun and then I get to stop on the 18th of August and I'll hunt for seven to eight months in a row, do all kinds of charity work for kid's charities, and military charities, it's a full life. My wife is beyond the dream, my kids, my grandkids, we have an incredible life. Everybody is very healthy and productive and very conscientious, caring, loving, funny, and cocky, and we thank God every day.