Shut Up & Jam! Ted Nugent Talks New Album, Musical Influences, Gear and More
Ted Nugent isn't one to keep his opinions to himself.
His persona has made him a larger-than-life and polarizing media figure. Peel away the political opinions and you find the “Motor City Madman” who has been cranking out hits since his debut with the Amboy Dukes in 1967.
The title of Nugent’s latest album, Shut Up & Jam!, is more than just an album title. It's a mission statement.
GUITAR WORLD: It has been seven years since your last album, Love Grenade, was released. What made 2014 the right time to put out a new record?
Wrapping up the greatest, most fun tour of my life in 2013 and then enjoying the greatest hunting season of my life with family and friends, it put me in such a wild-eyed, glowing, positive, happy place, that these songs simply erupted off my guitar neck unto themselves every time I cranked up the mighty Gibson Byrdland through my amps in the living room of our little Texas ranch house! Positive, uplifting motivation was everywhere. I am a very, very lucky guitar player.
Listening to Shut Up & Jam!, it seems as though the album really encapsulates your personality. When you wrote for the new record, was that a conscious effort?
My musical adventure has a life of its own, mostly an out-of-body experience every time I grab a guitar. Because of the earthly lifestyle of my hunting, fishing, trapping, ranching, outdoor fun, I believe I escape the music totally when not actually playing it. I've never planned any song or any record. Being an addict of groove-oriented R&B and rock and roll, my fingers immediately start dancing on the fretboard with variations of honky-tonk, boogie-woogie and every guitar lick you can imagine that I have absorbed throughout my music-drenched life.
Licks just come, chords just come, lyrical cadence just comes and pretty much immediately, the lyrics themselves just come. I'd call my musical creativity is more subconscious than conscious.
Your guitar sound on the record is instantly recognizable as classic Ted Nugent, but still sounds fresh. Aside from the obvious Gibson Byrdland and Les Paul, what are you using on this record in terms of gear?
A couple of my killer PRS's show up here and there, but the Byrdlands and Les Pauls mostly dominate through a new Peavey 50W and 6505 as well as a vintage Fender Bassman. I give a lot of credit to my cohort in soul music crime, Michael Lutz (producer and founding member of Brownsville Station), who has a very capable and demanding ear for those magical, original, classic, Lonnie Mack glowing tones.
How special is it after nearly 40 years to still be going into the studio with Derek and at the same time to work with friends like Sammy Hagar?
With the soul music masters of Derek St. Holmes, Mick Brown, Greg Smith, Jon Kutz, Johnny Bee Badanjek and Sammy Hagar, as well as Michael Lutz and Tim and Andy Patalan, the mighty Funkbrothers will live on in infamy as we carry the torch of the tightest, most fun garage band in the world. All my guys were raised on the magical grinding of black American blues and R&B, so it is always a soul music orgy and celebration of the sounds and grooves that we all love and crave to reproduce. These guys are the best.
At 65 years young, you show absolutely no signs of slowing down. Do you see a point with the music industry where there might come a time to walk away?
I think we can all agree that the greatest philosopher of all times, Dirty Harry, said it best when he stated the ultimate guiding force for quality of life: "A good man has to know his limitations."
And I figured that out many years before he made that statement. I rock ferociously hard every song, every gig, every night, every year for 50-plus years. As I approach my 6,500th ultra-rockout this summer, I attribute my longevity, overall health and youthful craving for the music to the definitive balance in my life that my hunting, outdoor and quality family time I orchestrate every fall and winter between tours.
Such a quiet, down-to-earth lifestyle literally cleanses my soul, clears my head, relieves my ears and fortifies my spirit. My life is literally perfect. So no, I don't ever consider "the end" but am more than aware of its necessity when the conditions arrive.