Rocker Ted Nugent Talks New LP ‘Detroit Muscle,’ COVID-19, Guns, America and More: “I’m a Lightning Rod”

Rocker Ted Nugent has a new album out on April 29. That LP, Detroit Muscle, showcases the musician’s signature hard-pounding, frenzied songs buoyed by his guitar prowess and gravely voice. But these days, Nugent is more than a musician. He’s a social media presence, an outspoken, often harsh voice in the face of what he perceives as right and wrong in America today.

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Here, we caught up with Nugent (of “Cat Scratch Fever” fame) to ask him questions about his new album, his relationship to Detroit rock and roll, his thoughts on COVID-19, Kyle Rittenhouse, the past three American Presidents, and much more. (Hint: he doesn’t hold back.) So, prepare yourself, dear reader, for all that is Ted Nugent.

American Songwriter: What was the influence of Detroit and the Detroit rock sound on you?

Ted Nugent: There has always been a powerful, ferocious energy everywhere in Detroit music. The intense soulfulness of the mighty Funk Brothers and the animal intensity of Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels continues to permeate my every musical moment, which happens to erupt on a daily basis to this very day. Surrounded by the phenomenal rhythm gods of Jason Hartless on drums and Greg Smith on bass guitar, my every musical guitar grind explodes into killer, fun, throttling songs with a life of their own. It remains a raw, instinctive craving to continually make new music as if Chuck Berry and Little Richard are standing at my side. 

AS: To what do you attribute your success—you’ve had tens of millions of albums sold, thousands of shows, a number of hit songs?

TN: Indefatigable spirit and insatiable cravings for exciting musical adventure surrounded by gifted musical forces that share my Herculean work ethic. We simply love the living shit out of this stuff.

AS: You have been involved in many controversial moments, from comments by Courtney Love to your stance on drugs, guns, politics, gay people, animal rights, Islam, COVID-19, Kyle Rittenhouse, and the past three presidents. Why do you think your life is such a lightning rod?

TN: It’s all so simple, it’s stupid. Courtney Love is a drug-abusing liar, guns and the 2nd Amendment are perfect, drugs are for weak losers, politics are supposed to be driven purely by the U.S. Constitution, gay people are just people, the very concept of animal rights is a dirty scam, too many Islamists are murderous, homophobic devils, Covid-19 will go down in history as the biggest scam known to man, Kyle Rittenhouse displayed the perfection of good over evil, Obama was an America hating prick, nearly everything Trump did benefited America and mankind, and Joe Biden is the manifestation of cultural deprivation. I’m a lightning rod because truth, logic, and commonsense is Kryptonite to the politically correct, braindead, soulless cult of denial fleebs. Could I be any cooler?  

AS: What do you get out of or enjoy about being on social media often in 2022?

TN: Communication is the key to quality of life and I communicate unafraid, unapologetically, and honestly with the world every day. Critical thinking turns me on.

AS: What was the genesis of your new album, Detroit Muscle—how did you write it, record it?

TN: I don’t write songs, I ejaculate them. My American musical heartbeat is a formidable force to reckon with that I take great effort to manage and harness, which actually is best achieved and appreciated by zero harnessing. It’s quite the metaphysical balancing talent. I live such a dreamy, happy life that it inevitably saturates my guitar playing and song unleashing creations. I’m surrounded by such loving, kind, giving, talented, dedicated, positive people that a soundtrack representing that positive spirit and energy literally has a life of its own. I thank those people and God for such a gift every day.

AS: Can you talk about the meaning or origin of a couple of songs on the new album: “American Campfire” and “Alaska”?  

TN: My entire life is literally a series of campfires enjoyed with amazing, good people, including in the wilds of Alaska for more than 45 years. There is a pure, openness, and uninhibited honesty around a campfire that is very inspirational and can cleanse the soul. As a lifetime hunter, these campfires remind us of the priorities in life and the primal scream that is alive and well. If nature heals, campfires heal definitively.

AS: How are you thinking about the future today, personally or professionally—is there an upcoming tour?

TN: Approaching my 74th glorious year, thank God, I am on course to fulfill my every dream with my amazing family, band, crew, team, and great friends from all around the world. That right there is the ultimate inspiration for fun music and fun times. With Greg and Jason, I am certain our Detroit Muscle tour will be the best ever as the band is insanely tight, energized, and in love with the music. The hunting is the best ever, and the culture war for the soul of real America keeps me focused and dedicated to fight evil and stupid stronger every day. This American Dream stuff is very inspiring. 

AS: What do you love most about music?

TN: The goosebumps and skinny girls dancing.

Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images

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