Ted Nugent, Interview – The ‘Defiant, Fun-Loving Spirit’ of ‘Detroit Muscle’


Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent – Story by Anne Erickson, photo by Brown Photography

Ted Nugent joins Anne Erickson to talk about his new album, “Detroit Muscle,” and the state of rock ‘n’ roll today

Many know Ted Nugent as one of the most proficient guitarists of his era, but most should know him by one simple moniker: Motor City Madman.

Nugent, undoubtedly, is proud of his Michigan and Detroit roots. Even though he lives in Texas, Nugent – speaking on the phone from his current residence in the Lone Star State – talks passionately about the Mitten. That said, it’s no surprise that Nugent’s upcoming album is Motor City tribute of sorts, named “Detroit Muscle.”

Nugent tells Audio Ink Radio that the new record is a “manifestation of my ‘We the People’ insistence.” As he explains, it all comes back to his Detroit roots and the rich Motor City music scene.

“The energy and the p*** and vinegar of that Motown fury of Ted Nugent music or Damn Yankees music or Amboy Dukes music or all of our favorite music, it comes from that wonderful, defiant, fun-loving spirit of everything that was music in Detroit,” Nugent said. “It’s driven by Motown masters Funk Brothers and the mighty Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels and Bob Seger and the MC5 and Brownsville Station and Grand Funk Railroad. I could go on! Now, continuing with Kid Rock and Greta Van Fleet.”

He added, “So, that music on my ‘Detroit Muscle’- it’s not just about my wonderful, fire-breathing, 840-horsepower Dodge Challenger Redeye super-sport Widebody. What a car. My God- the greatest car on in the history of the world. But, I celebrate Detroit iron muscle and the great horsepower legacy of Detroit, and also the unbelievable, swaddling horsepower of the great musical monsters that still celebrate that energy and attitude of Detroit.”

Nugent’s band on “Detroit Muscle” personifies that hard-won charisma and electric energy. The album features Greg Smith on bass and Jason Heartless, the latter of Detroit, on drums. “I’m the luckiest guitar player in the world,” Nugent said. “What a riot we had creating it.”

The album’s lead single, “Come and Take It,” is described as an “all-American defiant battle hymn from we the people to punks who dare tread on us.” That said, it’s still a really fun song.

“I have this real real problem,” Nugent says. “I’m addicted to honesty and truth, logic and common sense. It seems to be misinterpreted as baggage in this sacred experiment of self-government. So, when I pick up my guitar, you’re right. Good identification, Anne! Every song I’ve ever created is mostly about fun- even defiant songs identifying the corruption, like ‘Dog Eat Dog’ or even some of the impulses of ‘Stranglehold’ and so many songs. It’s always fun.”

Nugent believes that music is timeless. The songs on “Detroit Muscle,” he says, could have been smash hits decades ago. Similarly, hits from yesteryear still pop today.

“When it comes to music, wouldn’t ‘Johnny Be Good’ be a smash song today?” he said. “Wouldn’t ‘Long Tall Sally?’ If all of a sudden, it’s the first time you saw Little Richard, in January of 2022, you see Little Richard singing ‘Long Tall Sally’ and setting his piano on fire, it would be a smash hit. And nobody’s playing ‘Long Tall Sally’ and setting their piano on fire anymore. So, that kind of intensity and that kind of passion, it’s still alive and well in the world of real music lovers.”

He says when it comes to musicians, they don’t make them like they used to. “…Musicians aren’t as dedicated today,” Nugent said. “I know there’s a bunch of great ones. Joe Bonamassa is a young guy, and Kid Rock is not a young guy, but he’s now. I love what Big & Rich do. I love the sincerity of Blake Shelton and Toby Keith, though I can’t stand most country music. Greta Van Fleet does a great job, and everything the Foo Fighters do is awesome.”

He added, “But, it’s not like Ted Nugent or Bob Seger or The Amboy Dukes or ZZ Top or Cheap Trick or Montrose or Van Halen. You know what I mean? We just practiced more. We loved it more. So, that’s why ‘Detroit Muscle’ is going to be really significant to people who love that fire and that defiance and what you said as soon as we got on the phone: fun. Music is supposed to be fun. Even when you articulate corruption and ‘Dog Eat Dog’ sabotage on the downtown streets and police cars overturned. Yeah, I’m identifying social conditions, but I’m also a master at escaping social outrageousness and replacing it with fun, defiant, ‘We the People,’ middle finger on fire, grinding Motown Funk Brother outrageousness.”

“Detroit Muscle,” will arrive April 29, 2022. Nugent and Michael Lutz produced the set. For more on Ted Nugent, visit his official website.

Anne Erickson
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Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Interviews, Music, Rock