If You Don't Have Fun with Me, You're Weird: REVUE's interview with The Nuge

After four decades in the rock-n-roll spotlight, Ted Nugent's mind is still an honest, bizarre and unapologetic place.

The guitar slinger, known for hits like "Strangle Hold" and "Fred Bear," never fails to unleash his right wing/conservative opinions into the open. And when the Michigan rocker isn't busy hunting animals, serving on the National Rifle Association board, acting or writing best-selling books, he continues to write new songs, record and tour.

Whether the public agrees with, or even likes "The Nuge" doesn't matter to him. The 63-year-old Motor City Madman's rebellious attitude hasn't tired since he first started rocking with his first professional band, The Amboy Dukes, back in 1965.

When REVUE talked with him, we got pretty much what we expected: craziness mixed with his blunt, heartfelt opinions. His sometimes radical sentiments often irritate his flocks of liberal protestors — who he feels must be high on something.

"If I offend you, you're guilty of apathy, of disconnect and of not being your best guilty of being solemn, glutinous and irresponsible," he said. "My critics are all stoned, recently stoned or on their way to getting stoned," then after a slight pause, he whispers, "So they don't make any sense."

While Nugent insists when it comes to his objectors he's usually "too busy choking on laughter to respond," though he did say he prefers factual debates.

"If you're going to criticize me, it should be founded in truth and evidence," he said. "There are plenty of things I could be criticized for, but they haven't focused in on that s**t. They attack me saying, ‘He believes in self-defense!' — that's a critique? I think you're applauding me."

Political mumbo jumbo aside, Nugent (along with Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, The MC5 and Iggy & the Stooges) is a Michigan rock icon. He was the top-grossing tour act of '77,'78 and '79 — today he's played more than 6,000 shows worldwide.

Nugent's I Still Believe Tour, which includes ZZ Top, hits Soaring Eagle Casino on Friday, Aug. 5. It's the tour his fans have been waiting for, the long-awaited reunion with lead singer/guitarist Derek St. Holmes, known for his lead vocals on classics like "Stranglehold," "Wang Dang Sweet Poontang" and "Cat Scratch Fever."

Also backing Nugent on stage will be bassist Greg Smith (Alice Cooper, Rainbow) and Mick Brown (Dokken) on drums. "Uncle Ted" said he couldn't be happier about his current live band.

"These guys are like the Motown Funk Brothers," he said. "The four of us are a force to reckon with. The tour, band, attitude and the spirit we reek, exude, gush and blow out the spirit of rugged individualism and the Declaration of Independence every damn minute of our lives. And that's why people come to my concerts after all these years — I'm the only one with the balls to say that kind of stuff.

"When we come to the Soaring Eagle we'll rip heads clean off," Nugent said of the upcoming show. "I'm saying thank you to Michigan with the greatest rock-n-roll concert of my entire life. My band creates a fiery, passionate, bomb-ass fun factor. We're playing with ZZ Top — those guys are an enormous power of fun, but compared to me, forget it! If you don't have fun with me, you're weird."

Nugent, who's been known in the past for his wild man, Tarzan-like stage presence, is planning to spice the night up with some twists, turns and new songs in Mt. Pleasant.

"We have a brand new one called ‘I Still Believe,'" he said. "We're playing that, and a new one called ‘I Love My BBQ' — because I do. We dedicate ‘Raw Dogs and War Hogs' to all the heroes in the military and their families. Then if we feel like it, we might break into a Chuck Berry, Rolling Stones and James Brown song."

Aside from remaining loyal to loudly supporting the second amendment, Nugent said he's also remained drug free, something he's advocated since his early days, an uncommon feat in the rock industry.

"Getting drunk and stoned — that's partying? The puking, drooling, falling down and dying, that's a f****** party? I had a party this morning — I killed a raccoon, and now I'm gonna go jam my balls off with an electric guitar and go on tour — that's a party."

Photo: Jenny Risher