Whether you love him or hate him -- and be assured that there are folks who veer towards each extreme -- no one can deny that Ted Nugent makes no apologies. To say he’s passionate about his beliefs -- whether it’s in defense of the NRA, his repudiation of the political left or even his disdain for President Obama himself -- is like saying it sometimes snows in the Arctic. In other words, it would be a gross understatement. Animal lovers beware; having started our conversation by explaining how he killed a squirrel on his property earlier in the day, Nugent made it clear that hunting was something he relished and killing, albeit for the sake of furnishing his food, was a bloodsport he enjoyed .
Of course Nugent’s also known for the music he’s made over the course of nearly 50 years, starting with his underground hit with the Amboy Dukes in his native Detroit, a song that swept underground radio in the late ‘60s called “Journey to the Center of the Mind.” However it’s been the solo career that followed, punctuated on occasion by his bond to the supergroup Damn Yankees (which also included bassist Jack Blades, an ex member of NightRanger; guitarist Tommy Shaw, formerly of Styx; and drummer Michael Cartellone), that helped establish his reputation as the self proclaimed Motor City Madman. More hard rock than heavy metal, his onstage antics and catalog of standards have made him a prime draw and the very image of a crazed guitar welding rocker.
Nevertheless, prompted perhaps by a presidential campaign more freewheeling than any in history, Nugent seemed most interested in talking politics, gleefully expounding on his basic beliefs about where the country was headed and what’s needed to be done to wrest control from the party in power. Despite his adamant views -- some of which have drawn accusations of racism and abject extremism -- Nugent can be a surprisingly charming fellow, one who’s easily able to engage and entertain while still punctuating his point of view. So if you decide at the outset you absolutely hate all he stands for, at least by the end of the conversation you still feel like you can like the man himself. Maybe...
Hello Mr. Nugent. How are you today?
I’m so good it’s stupid. (laughs) I’m continuing throttling the bad and the ugly -- there’s more bad and ugly than there ever has been in our lifetime -- but if one priortizes intellectually, there’s more good as well. I already killed a squirrel this morning, fixed a gate and a fence. We found a bird that had a broken neck, so we killed her and preserved her precious protein. The dogs are happy. They’re laying there chewing on bones. They’re looking so happy it’s insane. I’m getting ready to do the greatest tour of my life. I’m getting ready to go to a turkey hunt and a Ford Bronco rally. Is there something I’m missing here? And I practiced guitar this morning. Prince danced naked in a sea of purple rain. I promise you that!
Wow. Will you do a Prince tribute in your set?
I will not. I’m sure I will acknowledge the loss of Lonny Mack, however. He was one of my huge influences. He is in the top one percent of the founding fathers of electric guitar. Bowie died, Glenn (Frey) died... I’m 67.4 years old. I’m a little older than most of those guys and I expect they respected their elders. It’s a great loss. With the rumors of Prince’s drug abuse, I’m ignoring all the things that are against my self evident truth quality of life and I don’t criticize the fact that Glenn Frey viciously attacked me from the stage for the last five years. So when I pay tribute to Glenn, I don’t even acknowledge that. I just thank him for enriching our lives with his brilliant, genius, groovin’, Motor City R&B/rock ‘n’ roll. I always take the positive side.
You also seem to have no worries saying exactly what’s on your mind, no matter how controversial it may seem. You don’t make any attempt to hold back.
You noticed that? I think honesty is always the best policy. If honesty ruffles your feathers, then your feathers needed ruffling.
The concept of adhering to political correctness may be somewhat alien as far as you’re concerned...
Here’s a great quote for you. The concept of political correctness rolls off my back like hygiene off of Michael Moore.
What do really think, Mr. Nugent?
Political correctness is a lie. It’s just the cult of dishonesty. Some words hurt feelings, but there’s no pressure to get a hero Marine, a warrior, new legs because the VA is corrupt and criminal? Some words are worth a protest, but not in support of all the heroes of the military that provide you the freedom that is unique to America? That doesn’t offend you, but the words do? See what I mean? That’s bizarro world. Alfred E. Newman wouldn’t include this in Mad Magazine. This one would fly over the cuckoo’s nest. I’m an old guy and I’m having the time of my life because I’ve always prioritized, and I’ve always tried to make the best the best of honest and pragmatic and intellectual decisions based on honesty and truth. One and one are always going to make two, no matter how many people are offended by the number two. And that’s really how simple and stupid and pathetic political correctness is, so I dance on its skull on an hourly basis and it’s a joy for me.
Is there ever a time where you think, “I better not say that? I better hold back?”
No. No never. Let’s put it this way. I’ve been training with the U.S. Marines for 45 years plus. I’ve never been an official Marine, but the way these guys embrace me, I’d rather have this than officialness, than government officialness. The battle cry of the Marine Corp is “Improvise, adaption, overcome.” When I speak every year, as I have for 27 years at my Ted Nugent Camp for Kids charity, for kids between seven and seventeen, I don’t exactly do the same introduction to “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang” I would do at a Ted Nugent concert. Are you with me? I spoke at a Republican luncheon yesterday here in Waco Texas and I never said “fuck” once. How about that? So I improvised. It wasn’t a conscious decision that, gosh, I should avoid these words. I embrace the environment that I’m in and conduct myself accordingly.
Well, you have made some disparaging comments about President Obama that some people have had some a problem with.
Some people have a real problem with that as the threats against my life would indicate.
The Secret Service paid you a visit, did they not?
Well, the Secret Service was forced to, because they were embarrassed to have to spend time with the most law abiding American in the history of the world, while some of their own agents were committing crimes. (laughs) They didn’t express in our little meeting what was alluded to, but I have nothing but respect for those great warriors of law enforcement -- the majority of them anyway -- but that moment was a manifestation of political correctness. How stupid do you have to be to misunderstand my clear statement, my unambiguous irrefutable statement that I was in fear of my government, not that I was threatening anyone. You have to genuflect at the altar of buffoonery to twist the meaning of those words to that degree. And it was Nancy Pelosi -- you remember old Nancy -- who said (adapts the tone of a cackling witch) “You don’t need to read this! You need to sign it!” So when those kind of freaks emphasize their freakishness, the media reports of the Secret Service are as serious as a heart attack, but boy... when these heroes of law enforcement come and check out Ted Nugent with the terrorism running muck around, I don’t think I’m in the top million to have the Secret Service, with their limited resources, spend their time with.
You’ve made some other comments about Obama that raised some eyebrows. You referred to him as a “subhuman mongrel.” That could be construed as racist, no?
Yes, a subhuman mongrel. That was in response to his daily violations of constitutionality and his oath to the office...his present hatred for America and freedom and our way of life. The guy was raised by communists. He was tutored by communists. Who doesn’t know where this guy came from? This is going to go down in history that Ted Nugent was right all along,and if you think it’s wrong to call a guy that is intentionally dismantling the greatest quality of life that’s ever taken place in the history of humankind -- i.e. mental transformation -- if you don’t recognize that and that my condemnation in street terminology was right on the mark, then you are an #enemy# of America. If you support this president who is the enemy of America and find fault with those of us who are criticizing this enemy of America, then you’re an enemy of America.
Okay, I understand where you’re coming from here, but...
Well you do, because you’re not on acid. (laughs)
But let’s play devil’s advocate. Some people might say that referring to a president who is African American...
Let’s stop right there. When you say “some people” let’s really examine those “some people.” They are consumed with hate. They really believe that people who refuse to be productive deserve some of your wages. The length of their anti-logic, anti-American, anti-human atrocities is really unlimited. And if those people find fault with me, you know what it does? Not only does it please me immensely, but it encourages me to stay on the path of logic, truth and common sense. And so when those “some people” find fault with me, it proves that I’m on track. And if you really examine where the hate and the threats against me and the condemnation of those terms that describe pure evil and anti- Americanism come from, then identify the source. You have to be honest with yourself. They hate you because you’re productive. You’re a chump. Because they can make more money than you by not even getting out of bed. Those are the people who hate me.
Okay, but still... saying subhuman in the context of an African America individual...
I don’t mean to cut you off, but you know what Ted Nugent doesn’t say? I see no color. I see no ethnicity. I don’t know what your ethnicity is and there’s nothing in life I could care less about than someone’s religion or color or way of life choices, or gender alignment. None of that means #anything# to me! I refer to Nancy Pelosi and Diane Feinstein in the same way, but no brouhaha occurred because they’re white, which shows that those attacking me are the real racists.
Okay, we’ll take you at your word.
Well of course you will. So does anyone who has a modicum of education and is honest. Ii’s the evil, rotten, strange... I use the term “subhuman” because I know how subhumans act. I’m surrounded by real humans every day. And they work hard, live within their means and earn their own way. They give and give to every children’s charity, every military charity. They’re kind and thoughtful and have goodwill. So I know humans. From my band and my family, the guys I go hunting with, my crew. The people I’ve done charity work with, the people I’ve worked with for 50 some years, the people I’ve done bookings with...the entourage of a gravity defying musical career. I know what human beings are, and I don’t recognize people who say #on the house floor#, you need to read this enormous document and you need to sign it! That’s not human. Maybe Martian. Where does that work? Where could that work? Where is that legal?
Okay, well we get where you’re coming from then.
Of course you do! Because you have to get up in the morning and go to work. You and I have a great connection. We actually feel accountable for our own productivity and benefit to our fellow man and America and our neighborhood and our family and the good mother earth. You go to my facebook and there are eleven million people on there. I always share my writings and my interviews and comments, and it’s all loving. Tens of millions of people get on and comment that “That’s what I would have said, you said it exactly that way I believe.” Then some come on and say, “Fuck you, Ted Nugent, you murderer of innocent animals. I hope you rot in hell.” Jeffery Dahmer lives. That’s going to be from all the John Wayne Gaceys out there. They’re never going to like Ted Nugent.
Okay, let’s talk about another comment you made recently, that Jews are responsible for gun control?
What I did was a posting on my facebook where it listed a bunch of people that are on record to ban private firearms ownership, and they’re identified as pure evil. I identified them so someone can know to keep an eye on them. They are in elected positions and they must be voted out of office. And if they have any influence on policy making in America, they must be stopped. I had no consideration for their religion, because I’m surrounded by Jews. In fact, when I wrote that I was adjusting my yamaka. I had just dived into some kosher venison. I’ve performed at bar mitzvahs! Give me a fucking break! What kind of freak would say that age 67 Ted Nugent became a Jew hater.! You got to be kidding me!
But in your comment you attributed this stance to Jews.
They happen to be Jewish people, which is even more astonishing because that’s how Hitler forced them into victimization. By disarming them. How could a Jew or anyone not know that the battle cry of freedom, to save our Jewish friends is “Never again!” And what does “never again” mean? It means that we will never again let anyone disarm people and take control and then send us to the gas chambers. Is my interpretation pretty good there?
So Ted, how do these things get misinterpreted then?
C’mon. How old are you? I know these are rhetorical questions. But c’mon! Examine #The Huffington Post# and Move On.org and Media Matters and the Southern Poverty Law Center. Those are the punks that bus protestors to my gigs, my gigs all around the country, and call my promoters and all my sponsors, and claim that I’m a child molester and a draft dodger and a racist and an anti-semite and I torture innocent animals. These are actual quotes that these people constantly barrage me with. They’re a few looney fringe freaks, but because they don’t have jobs, they can still be paid by these ultra left organizations to muzzle me. Because they know if they try to debate me, I’ll eat their family tree and shit sawdust. They can’t debate me! I’ve got all the facts, all the evidence on my side and you’ll come off like Pierce Morgan, which is almost pitiful.
Are you endorsing any particular candidate?
Well my God, at this point, anybody but the communist and the felon. I think Trump and Cruz are great men. I’m not picking an individual at this time. I speak to them and their camps on a regular basis and I have declined to endorse either. But quite honestly, it’s #anybody# but a Democrat. Those two frontrunners -- Ted Cruz, a great man, and Donald Trump, a great man -- neither are perfect, but compared to Hilary and Bernie, they’re almost like archangels. I’m pushing to make sure that we stop this fundamental transformation that bribes people for votes, bribes people with the producers’ money. Those of us who work -- they’re taking our money to bribe people to vote against #us#. Who doesn’t know that?
Some people would say the Koch Brothers do much the same with their money and their influence.
Except the premise of the Koch Brothers is one of rugged individualism, self sufficiency, freedom of choice, respect for religious decision making and support of the LGBT without compromising other people’s freedoms. So I think what the right does, what the conservatives do is just fine -- although I think the word “conservative” is hysterical, because I wrote “Wango” Tango.”So I don’t know if I would fall into the Websters definition of a conservative. But when it comes to work ethic, patriotism, good over evil, being a good law biding citizen -- all the things that make life good -- those are what I believe in. I don’t believe in Occupy Wall Street claiming that those not willing to produce deserve the earnings of those who do produce. Other than Mao Tse Tung, Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama, Hilary Clinton, Wasserman-Shultz and all the creeps on the left, where can we point to that working anywhere?
You seem to be defending a strong work ethic then.
Don’t encourage non-productivity. You can’t reward non-productivity. You can only encourage productivity, i.e. capitalism. Reward cleverness, a work ethic, tenacity, risk taking, sacrifice. That’s why they can’t argue with me. That’s not a Ted Nugent thing. It’s your stuff too. It’s people who care stuff. If we can’t keep most of our earnings, then we can’t help tornado victims and flood victims and the hungry and the sick and the disabled. The government won’t. People of goodwill and decency not only hear me, they hear themselves through me. They won’t get on the phone with you this morning. I get on the phone. I’m not speaking on my behalf. I’m speaking on working hard working, playing hard Americans’ behalf who work their asses off to be in the assets column, because we would be embarrassed and ashamed to intentionally be in the liability column. That personifies an enormous percentage of the Democrats and that is tragic! And if that offends someone, then someone needed to be offended.
It would seem that Trump is the man for you. It appears he’s unafraid to say whatever he says without fear of consequence or backlash.
I’ve heard people say that Trump is as close to Ted Nugent as you’re going to get in today’s politics. Yes, and that’s why nobody cares if he’s a liberal or a conservative or a Libertarian or religious or atheist. Nobody cares. They want to fix America. Stop and think. There’s a debate in America today over whether we should have secure borders or not. Are you kidding me? There’s actually an acceptable colloquialism in America that people have given up looking for work. (laughs) That’s not America! Or how about the list of jobs that Americans refuse to do? Those words struggle to come out of my lips because it’s so illogical. Can you imagine your kid coming up to you and saying, “Dad, I have my list of chores here and there’s a few on here I’m not willing to do.” Well, no food for you, son.
You could have been on the short list for Trump’s VP pick.
I’m not going to give you all the gory details, but I’ve been prodded for years to run for governor here or governor there, senator here or state rep there. People who aren’t afraid of the truth and they’re not strangled by political correctness, they know that I speak like the shit kickers who made America great. The wielders, the carpenters, the cops, the teachers -- the people with jobs, they rally behind me. They’re not really behind me...they rally beside me because we’re in this together. I was part of the culture wars in the mid ‘60s -- before anyone knew there was a culture war because the rock ‘n’ roll media was a minor consideration way back then -- and they immediately started condemning me for being a gun guy, and I just didn’t understand that.
Unlike many musicians, you take a strong stance against drugs and other stimulants.
Not only would I not do their drugs, but I condemned the behavior of my fellow musicians on their drugs. Who in your life do you want high? Do you want your airline pilot high? How about your plumber? You want your babysitter high? Who do you want high? Death with THC in the bloodstream in Colorado since pot was legalized has gone up 44 percent. Who likes this?
However you have come out in support of medical marijuana.
For sure. I’d put a puppy in a blender and have you drink it if it could help cure something or another. I do have a way with imagery, don’t you think?
Do you ever say things purely for the shock value?
Because I do this all the time, my vocabulary is a little more uninhibited than others, shall we say? But I write music that’s out of body, that’s stream of consciousness and so I find that certain gestures and certain words are more emphatic. The biggest problem is that political correctness came from people being cautious about what they say. But if you’re confident in your intellect and you’re confident in your goals, what your intentions are, then you don’t have to mince words. I have confidence in my vocabulary and in your capability of editing it for your nsuspecting civilian readership. Maybe I have more confidence in that than you do.
I don’t think you want me to edit what you have to say.
Oh sure, but you have a publisher or a boss that will insist you do so.
No, not really.
Ah, then let it rip. I think the shit kickers of the world who are the best people in the world, and so the shit kickers are the people who bust their ass. They’re the people who work hard and play hard. People that won’t accept being in the liability column. Our instincts, our morals and our patriotism drive us to be in the asset column. So they don’t have a problem with my words. You know what I’m confident in telling you? You will never interview with anyone who has spent more time with dying children and with their parents and family... little girls and boys, five, six, seven years old, teenagers, young adults, old people... who want to spend their last day fishing or hunting or barbecuing with Ted Nugent. The family who is letting their five year old daughter who is dying of leukemia, if they think that I’m okay to spend that time with that little girl, well you know what, I’m okay! These families know that I say “mother fucker” on occasion. They know that I use colorful language on occasion, but not around the little girl around the campfire. I’m a smart guy, and I know when where and how. The people who have a problem with Ted Nugent just don’t know when, where or how. For me to please them would be like me trying to tell a heroin addict to quit putting a needle in their arm, which by the way I’ve done. But they won’t listen to you. They like that needle. They don’t want to be accountable. They don’t want love. They don’t want to believe in the American dream. They just want to die. And I’ve held them in my arms until they’ve cried, and I’ve begged them, and I’ve taken the needle and I’ve thrown it away, but they go and find another one.
But again, you’ve come out in favor of medical marijuana. For some, that’s seen as a first step towards all out legalization.
That’s so stupid! I don’t think so. This is the condition, this is the environment, this is the situation. The guy’s in pain. He’s got leukemia. What can we provide him that will help? Get it.
You’re a naturalist though. One would think that smoking weed wouldn’t bother you. After all, it’s a natural herb that comes from the soil. One would think that you’d find that it is okay.
Except that in my lifetime the proof that is that it’s not okay, because the people smoking dope around you are liabilities instantly. I couldn’t rely on them for #anything#. I have to babysit them. What if I needed help? They want to drop out and get high and do whatever it is that that embarrassing self-inflicted condition is. There’s no benefit to any of that.
Aren’t you just lumping everyone together into kind of a general stereotype of you’re own making?
Sure, I’m lumping the thousands that I’ve seen firsthand and that I’ve witnessed.Those are the people that I’m lumping. I’m only lumping people in the category of chopping people’s heads off in the category of chopping people’s heads off. I hear people complaining abut Donald Trump. “He thinks all Mexicans are rapists and murderers.” No, he doesn’t. Nobody does. We think that rapists and murderers are rapists and murderers. So there may be three or four percent who are rapists and murders, but the other 97 percent aren’t, but we don’t claim they all are!
Perhaps he phrased it in an unfortunate way that didn’t get that point across.
No, not at all. Perhaps in the world of political correctness if you’re stupid enough to swallow that. Nobody with an ounce of intellect thinks that he thinks all Mexicans are rapists and murderers.
We’re just trying to clarify here.
Of course you are. To counter my stand, you have to be on the devil’s side.
By asking these questions, it helps people to illuminate exactly what you mean.
Illumination is your job. Nobody appreciates that more than I do, because all those leftists gangs that I mentioned earlier -- and there’s so many of them, it goes right up to ABC, NBC, CBS,CNN and even Fox sometimes -- they’ll take a headline from the Huffington Post and rerun it as if it was true! How about the one where they said I told Native Americans to go back to where they came from? What sort of subhuman mongrel could possibly think that Ted Nugent would say that, not knowing that Ted Nugent is aware that they’re from here! If you’re going to attribute some nasty, hateful thing to me, at least make it believable. You can tell I’m chuckling throughout these things because on a personal level it doesn’t phase me a bit, but what does breaks my heart to the core is that those are fellow Americans making up the nastiest, cruelest, hateful lies about another American. Again, not that it hurts me, but I’m hurt that that kind of conduct goes on.
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