Music » Interviews

Batshit fever

Media magnet Ted Nugent is still as (your adjective here) as ever



The man has built an entire career out of the notion that he's not shy. In his younger years, Ted Nugent would jump on stage in a loincloth, swing across that stage upside down on a rope, and then lay into songs like "Cat Scratch Fever" "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang," and others that made pubescent scrawlings on the back of most junior high notebooks seem subtle by comparison.

In more recent years, he filled hours of reality programming for VH1 and CMT simply by inviting folks to hunt or be hunted on his game ranches in Michigan and Texas. He's written nearly two dozen books, appeared on The Simpsons, and stays in the press with his stance on hunting, gun issues and the political spectrum in general.

He sits on the board of the National Rifle Association, has written op-eds calling Muslims "rude" and "stupid," has toured with Glenn Beck and, just a few weeks ago at the NRA's national convention, declared, "If Barack Obama becomes the president in November again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year." That earned him an inquiry from the Secret Service.

In other words, Ted Nugent has a mouthpiece, and he's not afraid to use it. In the following e-mail interview (edited only slightly for clarity), Nugent discusses his upcoming show at Red Rocks, the quest to stay relevant, and his thoughts on hunting and preparing Colorado bison.

Indy: Welcome back to Colorado, Ted. In honor of your new song "I Love My BBQ" and your reputation as a hunter and sportsman: What do you think of our state's bison and how it ranks as both prey and a meal among the game you've gone after? Also, do you have a favorite way of preparing it?

Ted Nugent: Thank you. CO always makes my family, band and I feel welcome. We appreciate the positive energy every time.

CO has done a wonderful job managing our sacred wildlife. Hunter conservationists around the world salute you. Clearly the pure flesh of bison is one of earth's finest, healthiest and most delicious protein, and as long as you kill them swift and clean, keep the meat cold and clean, you can't really go wrong in preparing bison meat over hot coals. Seasonings and spices all work on this hearty flesh, and we enjoy bison steaks often at the Nugent grill.

Indy: You're bringing a whole lot of history into town between yourself, REO Speedwagon and Styx, but you seem to be keeping the most up-to-date both musically and culturally. What's your secret to staying relevant, and how do you keep fans as locked into your music as they were in the "Wango Tango" days?

TN: 63 years clean and sober keeps my level of awareness soaring, and it guides me to surround myself with gung-ho people dedicated to being the absolute very best that they can be. I cherish everyday of my American Dream and feel an obligation to remain tuned in to the critical issues that determine quality of life in this incredible country. Spending much of my time with heroes of the US Military who sacrifice so dearly for our freedom, I am driven to show my thanks by putting to use the freedoms they fight so hard to provide.

Indy: We realize Jack [Blades is] busy with Night Ranger and Michael [Cartellone is] off with Lynyrd Skynyrd, but Tommy Shaw's going to be on the bill with you at Red Rocks. What's your relationship with him like these days, and is there a chance we'll hear some Damn Yankees songs during the set? If so, does the zebra jacket from the "High Enough" video come out of retirement?

TN: How bout those Damn Yankees? Killer musicians and great men. I keep in touch with all of them and love the music we make together. Tommy and I are ready to rock some Damn Yankee masterpieces if time allows. Tommy Shaw is a full on Funkbrother of the highest order and when we jam, the earth moves.

I donated the zebra coat to a charity fund raiser, but I'm sure I have some killer rock-n-roll regalia to don for such an occasion.

Indy: It used to be that rock and metal bands were picking up what you were putting down with "Love Grenade," "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" but, since about the 1990s or so, hip-hop and electronic acts have been the ones carrying your torch of primal sexuality. What do you think of the evolution of sexuality in music, and does it still have the visceral core that followed from jazz to doo-wop to '60s rock and through to "Free-for-All"?

TN: With all due respect to the latest musical acts, I find very little sexuality in the non-human, soulless electronic sounds I hear. I crave and relish the human touch of emotional, defiant, pure animal organic sexuality of my music.

Nothing today comes close to the sexy soundtrack of my band, Aerosmith, ZZ Top, Van Halen, Sammy Hagar, AC-DC, the Stones, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and other high energy R&B driven rockers. I think everybody knows that.

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