Ted Nugent Interview: Killing Animals Helps You Play Guitar

By: Rob Cavuoto

Be prepared and forewarned before you join me on an amazing adventure into the heart, the soul, and the mind of a legendary guitarist, singer and songwriter of our generation – Ted Nugent. The man who brought us such heartfelt and tender love songs such as“Wang Dang Sweet Poontang,” “Stranglehold,” and of course the beautifully touching little ditty, “Cat Scratch Fever.”

Uncle Ted may boast that he has been on some amazing adventures, safaris, and hunting expeditions, but today he has nothing on me as I’m the one going on the adventure of a lifetime. That adventure is into the mind of Ted Nugent, and my tour guide is none other then Ted himself. For this adventure I was instructed to be vigilant and bring the following items that would ensure my safety and survival. 1) A recorder to capture the spoken word of this fast talking caveman brave man. 2) Questions designed to tantalize and excite the heart of my prey. 3) Plenty of time to meet with this fearless creature as Ted does not do anything quick or half-assed. I only pray that I don’t get pounced on, chewed up, spit out, and left for dead.

So buckle your seat belt, secure your safety harness and kiss your ass goodbye as we embark on this journey with Uncle Ted as he shares his views on music, playing guitar, hunting, and political rhetoric. Be sure to catch him live as he throttles relentlessly across American this summer for the 2011 I Still Believe Tour.

Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent Photo: Wikipedia


Robert Cavuoto: I heard your two new songs, “I Still Believe” and “I Love a BBQ”. Both great American anthems. A lot of fun with positive American spirit. Are we going to see these on CD any time soon?

Ted Nugent: Aren’t they fun? They’re available for free download at my website. People are doing it that way now. I’ve got so many new songs, but we’re so inebriated with the rehearsals for the tour. We’ve have so much fun rehearsing the songs and getting ready for this tour that I haven’t had time to get in the studio and actually make an official record. I love these two songs and at some point in time, I hope to have a collection of new songs on a CD. I’ve got 20 killer songs like these, but it’s just a matter of finding time, making it happen.

Robert: Your musical career spans four decades. How do you stay current yet keep true to your musical style and integrity?

Ted Nugent: I’m an adventurous guy and I change a lot on every LP. Let’s take my first classic solo album. I had “Stormtroopin’” and “Stranglehold,” “Just What the Doctor Ordered,” “Motor City Madhouse.” Definitive guitar lick theme songs of unprecedented energy and authority, dare I say, because of the unprecedented energy and authority of my band.

On that same record there is “You Make Me Feel Right at Home”, where I played the Gibson Birdland Jazz guitar as a Gibson Birdland Jazz guitar, even paying homage to the great Wes Montgomery tone and style. Cliff Davies played brushes on his drums for that song.

Nothing is sacred. I seek to blow the living shit out of any paradigm or any rules or any presumptions, and I continue to do so. There’s a song called “Never Stop Dreaming” that I imagine you might be able to find somewhere on the Internet because I performed it at some NRA events, and I play it at a number of military charities. It’s a gushing, ballady, high-energy song. Nothing is off limits to me.

I was born at point A, and I’m gonna die way down the road at point B. In between, I’m climbing every mountain I run into and going across every valley I encounter. So, nothing is sacred and I’m surrounded with such incredible virtuosos. What my musicians inspire me to do is virtually unlimited. There’s nothing we can’t do, so we do that.

Robert: Your resume is extremely impressive: rockstar, reality show star, writer, and political activist. Where do you get the energy and time to do all this? Most people cant do one of those things, let alone all of them. How are you so successful at all of them?

Ted Nugent: You forgot hunter! [Laughs] I’ve been clean and sober my whole life and when you’re clean and sober; your spirit drives you to uncharted territory. When you respect your sacred temple and you intelligently and conscientiously manage your mind, body, spirit and soul, goodness gracious, there’s no limits to what a guy can do. You forgot to mention that I was a professional off-road racer and sheriff’s deputy. I can conduct federal raids. I was father of the year for being a room dad at my kid’s school.

The awards are cute, but what they really represent is that we celebrate engagement. I’m engaged. When I sleep at night, I’m dead. I’m resting, because the next day I’m going to engage shit. So I’m alive, and when you’re clean and sober, this is how you live. And I really mean that. If you really examine other human beings, they get drunk. They think that marijuana is a recreational drug. It’s not.

How insane can a society be to use the word recreation to a mind-reducing, not a mind-altering, a mind-reducing drug? When the term recreation means to escape the pressures of life and refortify your spirit and your energy level and your physical capabilities. How could you attribute that term to a procedure and a commodity that specifically reduces your level of awareness and your health? You’ve got to be kidding me. So that is a manifestation of the cultural swan dive that we are currently into. I sit back and I look at this, and I don’t really sit back, but I regroup and I observe my fellow man and I go, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

So you’ve watched all the people jump into that little puddle. Every one of them have broken their neck and ended up in a wheelchair and you’re gonna jump into that puddle too? A little word to the wise: I’m not an aqua master, but I think the puddle’s too shallow to dive into. I’m not diving into it. And guess what? I know everything I need to know about that puddle without diving into it.

So I’m telling you, you meet a guy like Gene Simmons, clean and sober, and here’s a conscientious and productive monster because his stuff is working good. So if your stuff is working good, which means clean and sober!

There have been a lot of creative people that of made gazillions of dollars while smoking dope. I’ll bet you some of the richest and most productive people in the world, but I attribute that in spite of the chemical warfare they fill themselves with. So that’s my system and that’s why I danced on Piers Morgan’s skull last month, but I did it all positive. I was friendly. I was polite. I was always smiling, because the left, i.e. Piers Morgan, CNN and them that I referenced last night, they would call me hateful, tried to identify me as homophobic, as a coward, as a racist, and that is so typical of them.

The thing is it’s because I am having so much fun, they hate me, and that’s beautiful, because there’s always gonna be good, bad and ugly. I’m the good; the left is the bad and the ugly. Just like Ian Winter with his top 100 guitarists. I’m not slighted and it’s not sour grapes. I’m just a man addicted to honesty.

So let me get this right, Joan Jett is on the fuckin’ top 100 guitarists list in Rolling Stone magazine, but I’m not? What an insult to Eddie Van Halen and Chris Duarte. Is Chris Duarte’s even on there? What an insult to Billy Gibbons and Chuck Berry and Jimi Hendrix. What an insult to Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, to have some of these little noise punks on that list with some of the greatest guitar players that ever lived not on the list?

So if that’s the world we live in, one of brain dead denial, political transparency, and I don’t mean being honest, exposing what you believe, but there’s nothing there. It’s transparent. It’s nothing but air, presumption, fantasy and denial, so I get a real kick out of that, and it inspires me to continue with what I know works best, and that is put your heart and soul into everything you do. Be the absolute best that you can be. Challenge yourself on a daily basis and have the American dream and no one can stop it.

Ted Nugent

Ted Nugent Photo: Wikipedia

Robert: What about playing guitar turns you on?

Ted Nugent: You know, there’s so many things that it’s impossible to nail it down. Obviously just the noise, the electric guitar, what Les Paul did, and the way the pickups capture the sounds and project the clanging, electric, metallic, vibrating, feedbacking, edgy, animal breeding sound. The first time I heard Lonnie Mack play “Wham” or Chuck Berry play “Johnny B. Goode” or “Maybelline” or Bo Diddley pounding out that sexual rhythm, I just identified with it. Now you take that to the next level of hands-on pursuit and grabbing an instrument and attempting to emulate then surpass. To go where no one has gone before, which I’ve done and which I continue to do.

It’s unlimited in its dynamic and exciting. It’s virtually unlimited as the expression of every human emotion, every human fantasy, and every human reality and beyond the human into the spirit world, into the animal world, into the mysticism of folklore. The guitar is the most expressive individual voice available to mankind.

And it’s a big, big thrust in my quality of life and expression on the guitar is what I did this morning; I just came in from checking my trap line. I killed a big ass raccoon. I guarantee my land and wildlife is healthy by maintaining a balance of all the different biodiversity, so that rabies, distemper, mange and destruction of habitat doesn’t take place. I’m the original Natty Bumppo. I’m the original caveman brave man. I got stung by a scorpion yesterday. As I picked up a damn log, a scorpion nailed me right on the tip of my right hand middle finger. And I’m telling you, my knees went out a couple of years ago, so I know what pain is like, but this…it’s got to be 20 hours ago and it hurts like a motherfucker.

My point is, how much further from electric guitar creativity can you get than running a trap line? And killing a raccoon and humping four tons of feed this morning. This is physical, independent, rugged individualism at its finest. So when I live this earthly, hands in the dirt, hands in the scorpion’s ass, cutting my own wood and I planted a whole bunch of trees. I’m out there hacking away with a pick axe because the ground is so hard and I’m working up a sweat. Sweat’s pouring off me and I’m laughing and the dog’s around and I’m throwing the ball, and I’m working on 63, pounding these big holes in the ground so I can plant my fuckin’ trees.

I’m building these fences, enclosures around them so the deer don’t eat them and I sit back and I’m watering them and I’m just exhausted. Then I pick up the guitar and fire comes off the end of my fingers because I was so far away from electric guitar playing, when I come back, it’s like my first piece of ass all over again. That’s where these unbelievable licks come from. Its like “I Love My BBQ” [humming chords and instrument sounds] comes pounding out because I just planted some fuckin’ trees.

People have always pooh-poohed what I do. All the guitar magazines go, “As if killing animals helps you play guitar.” Killing animals helps you play guitar, because killing animals is the purest, most perfect form of environmentalism a man could possibly partake in, and that fills your spirit with confidence and fortifcation that you’re a natural asset to the good Mother Earth. That’s why I wrote “Stranglehold,” and no one else could.

Robert: What is it about the Birdland Jazz guitar, that does it for you? You basically own that big rock sound.

Ted Nugent: My god, that Birdland…how special is that? There’s no other sound like it. Check out CNN.com and they have a whole bunch of outtakes from me testing their amplifier. It was just a little 112 Custom with its own little delay setting, its own little reverb. And it’s in the CNN Studio. They were filming me testing the amp and filming me doing everything, and I just started blasting. Dear god in heaven. It reminded me of hearing “Suzie Q” by Lonnie Mack, or “Walk, Don’t Run” by The Ventures, or the first time I heard Jimi Hendrix. I was in a nice suit jacket, that Mrs. Nugent made me wear, and I’m playing these licks on this jazz hollow body guitar at CNN Studios. It’s unbelievable. It’s as inspiring as the first time I grabbed a guitar and plugged it into an amp, and here I am 63 years later. That’s unbelievable.

Robert: Tell me a little about the Talkback section on your site?

Ted Nugent: More gun talk than the NRA website. More trapping than the National Trappers Association. More fine-ass bitches in little underwear than any Playboy. My world is so unlimited, and the people in it are maniac passion. Guys like you that love guitar, love music, love the passion of a great American dream.

You’ve got to come to Talkback. These guys are guitar maniacs. I whip out a guitar and show guys how to play “Crave Man” or “I Still Believe” or throw them some of those “Free For All” guitar solos, whip it out there every once in awhile. But it’s fascinating, because we still love this music.

Last year I set attendance records in 10 states. The most important gigs in the world, things like RibFest: 40,000 people at a RibFest. Mississippi River Days, Frontier Days, Stampede Days, RibFest here and Barbecue Fest there. We’re talking huge crowds and I haven’t had a hit record in 30 fuckin’ years…well, I guess “Damn Yankees” we sold five million records.

The industry won’t admit this incredible gravity-defying career. My career continues to defy gravity, but they’ll do some great thing about Tom Morello playing Che Guevara song in Madison, Wisconsin union rally, when Tom Morello, who I really like – he’s a good friend – but you’ve got to be kidding me. The first person Che Guevara would have killed would have been Tom Morello! And this guy’s pretending to be a fan of his. What happened to us? How stupid can you get? That’s like ‘Jews for Hitler’. You’ve got to be kidding me. [Laughing]

And singing protest songs so we can be more like Che Guevara, and if we’re lucky, maybe America will be more like Cuba in the future. Are you fuckin’ kiddin’ me? These are the kind of observations I make that keep me on the straight and narrow and keep me defyin’. My music, like the original electric guitar music by Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Howlin’ and Lightnin’, Mose Allison, Muddy Waters, my music is the definition of defiance. “Stranglehold” is “Fuck you. I’m rockin’. I like feedback. I like rhythm and blues. I despise fashion. I laugh in the face of the lie of peer pressure. This is what’s coming out of my soul. I’m gonna record it and you can’t stop me.” 40 million records later, suck my dick. How beautiful is that? I think it’s originally what rock n roll was supposed to be.

Robert: What do you want to be remembered for long after you’re gone? The musician, the hunter…how do you want you life to be summed up?

Ted Nugent: I will be remembered by my family, my friends, the people in my hunting camps, my bands, the people who actually know me, as a supremely conscientious guy, who always thought of others’ situations before my own. That I put my heart and soul into everything I do and my unbridled enthusiasm and passion for life is misinterpreted by the lesser amongst us as somehow violent and offensive. By the people who don’t know me, like Piers Morgan who continue to try to pound me, force me into the homophobic, sexist, racist, hateful kind of guy which couldn’t be more opposite of what I am.

I’m just a simple man who knows you have to put your heart and soul into being the best that you can be, so that at the end of the day or at the end of the life you have been an asset to your fellow man, an asset to America, an asset to good over evil, an asset to law and order over crime, and an asset to the environment and the good Mother Earth, partaking in her renewable, sustained yield conservation perfection. That’s what I am. That’s what I will be remembered by, but in this cultural war, the haters will continue to hate me and that makes me even more proud. If the assholes don’t like you, it proves you’re not an asshole.

Robert: I saw you on a Piers Morgan last month and though you handled yourself extremely well, great show.

Ted Nugent: Yeah, that was pretty easy stuff. If you’re gonna argue with me, at least bring some fuckin’ info. He’s arguing entrenched, irrefutable reality, especially regarding the guns issue and what a 17- and 18-year old kid might do versus a 60-year old guy. That was the leftist agenda, which is why I’m not on the list of greatest guitar players in Rolling Stone and they don’t mention that my tour is the baddest motherfuckin’ tour every year, but not compared to their dope-smokin’, Marxist, Che fan club. It’s just unbelievable how braindead my critics are, and Piers was perfect example. Nothing, they got nothing. Meanwhile, I’m having the time of my fuckin’ life.

Robert: You look like you were having a great time on the show.

Ted Nugent: You noticed that. That’s what happens when you’re clean and sober and you have your faculties.

Ted Nugent White Buffalo

Ted Nugent White Buffalo

Robert: You are known for being outspoken and your name alone is synonymous with controversy. Do you feel that people are always looking to baiting you to get you to say something wrong or put you on the spot to see if you will crack? Do you find that’s what it’s all about for you?

Ted Nugent: It’s certainly what leftist-controlled media is all about. Piers Morgan is going back to things that happened 45 years ago, but not a word about my annual, multiple charitable events where families of terminally ill little boys and girls seek me out to take their little boys and girls on their last adventure in life. That’s not important? But going back to the claim that I avoided the draft 40-some years ago…THAT’S what you want to talk about but not that every year for 30-plus years, I’ve done more charity events and more benefits for special needs kids and the heroes of the military than all the others combined, but that’s not on your list of things to talk about? Or that I continue to defy gravity with my career, the incredible power, authority and buoyancy of my music. That’s not on your list of things to talk about? Ted Nugent 2011. That’s phenomenally inept.

They can have at it, and I know it’s a culture war; so do I want to talk about the fun of the music and the glow of the charity work? Of course I do. But I also want Piers Morgan to bring his best game, which he did, because all I brought was rope. I only put it on the table. I didn’t wrap it around his neck. He did. I didn’t throw it over the rafter. He did. I didn’t put him on the chair and make him jump. He did. I just provided the rope for him to hang himself with.

So in a culture war, where they’re literally trying to define the greatness of America as ‘evil Satan’, I am so pleased and so dedicated to confronting these idiots that I welcome debate, because when he debated me last night, who ended up eating it? He did.

Robert: It was good TV, though.

Ted Nugent: It was beautiful. It was good TV. That’s what I do, entertaining and hugely educational. You should see the tsunami of emails and text and communications we’re getting right now from people who tuned in because they hate me, tuned in because they hate the NRA, tuned in because they hate conservatives and you can’t believe how many are going, ‘Wow. I actually looked up some of the things you claimed about guns and you were right. I had no idea.”

Well, if you only watch CNN and you only watch Katie Couric, that’s right. You don’t have an idea. You have no idea because they’re keeping you in the dark intentionally. But one show on Piers, in the enemy’s camp, by Ted Nugent, enlightened millions of people. Now there’s a whole bunch of people that cannot take the truth. They hate the truth so they’ll continue to hide from the truth, just like Piers did three or four times last night. The statistics are irrefutable: where you have gun-free zones, more innocent lives are lost. Why would you want more of those? And he still came back that gun-free zones were our goal. Unbelievable.

Robert: I know you’ve always been outspoken against Obama, but now that he found and killed Osama, have your views on him changed at all?

Ted Nugent: I’ve given him a non-stop prop since that moment. I’ve done probably 100 interviews since and I salute him and applaud him and congratulate him and thank him for a job well done, both the killing of the evil Osama Bin Laden and the Somali pirates that the Navy SEALS aced here a couple of years back.

I’ve always acknowledged the good, the bad and the ugly. Unfortunately, he does not get full credit for that and I am also convinced that he is such the master of deception. He and his czars, Cass Sunstein and Van Jones, et al, they have all come in, and Rahm Emanuel and Eric Holder and Geithner…they have all showed to anyone willing to look that they are the masters of deception. I don’t trust anything they do, even moments like this with killing the enemy, as sincere, genuine or part of their agenda. I believe it is a manipulative thing where in order to get the Marxist/Communist redistribute earnings program, they will do whatever they have to do to get votes, to fool the masses, and to get in a couple of powerful good licks for their ultimate agenda.

Van Jones was a railing maniac, racist, Communist. He was the representative of the American Communist Party. Our president appointed him the czar of green jobs? Are you kiddin’ me? The enemy of America now has a green job czar? So Van Jones came right out and said it. This is what they all do: that he has dropped the rhetoric. He has dropped the radical profile for a suit and tie and the right things to say so he can get to his final goal easier. That’s what they’re doing.

The president hates productive Americans. He hates entrepreneurs. He hates wealth and success and without wealth and success, there can’t be jobs. There can’t have quality of life. There can’t be economic flow to serve everybody who puts their heart and soul into achieving a successful work ethic to earn part of that economic flow. And guess what, Robert? I never even went to some hallowed hall of learning to learn Economics 101. I just happen to know it. And the president is a deceptive, an America-hating son-of-a-bitch.

I told Piers last month. It’s not about helping needy. I guarantee you that one person out of a million, if that, actually deserve food stamps or welfare, because the other 999,999, they’re smokin’, they’re drinkin’, they’re eatin’ out. They’ve got cell phones. They’ve got microwaves and air conditioning and Grand Prixs with nice wheels and they go to the movies. You’ve got to be kiddin’ me. They’re buyin’ meth. They’re buyin’ crack. They’re buying dope and they’re gettin’ welfare. Are you kidding me?

Robert: What do you think the Navy SEALS said to Osama Bin Laden when they put the gun to his head? Do you think they told him anything?

Ted Nugent: I get to train with these guys. I do shooting scenarios with these guys. I have shooting competitions with the Navy SEALS and the Green Berets and the Special Ops. I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I’ll tell you what they said: nothin’. They shot him dead and they didn’t say nothin’. That’s it. They’re doing their job. They didn’t say, ‘Drop the weapon!’ They didn’t say, ‘Halt, police!’ They didn’t say nothin’. There wasn’t a word said except through individual communication microphones and radios between them as they cleared specific quadrants. They never said anything to anybody.

If there was a threat, they neutralized it. If there wasn’t a threat, they semi-neutralized it. [laughing] No words were discussed. You hear a lot about equality. No such thing. Navy SEALS are superior human beings, period.

They did a great job. Here’s what I said to Mike Huckabee the other night: “If we left our ultra-trained warriors to just end the war on terror, they could end the war on terror. If we just told our incredibly dedicated trained National Guard and Border Patrol and ICE and all the Federal agents to secure our border, they could secure it by noon tomorrow, but we don’t want them to because Obama and the left are allowing herds of new voters to come in as they bait these voters in with handouts and welfare. So they’ll vote for the people who hand out money, welfare, food stamps and cushions.” It’s absolutely soulless.



  1. TedNugent.com (4 years ago)

    […] mind of Ted Nugent, and my tour guide is none other then Ted himself…Read the interview only on GuitarInternational.com! addthis_pub = 'TedNugent'; addthis_logo = 'http://www.tednugent.com/Images/share.gif'; […]

  2. brian collis (4 years ago)

    Uncle Ted is without a doubt, one the most honest, patriotic, and talented individuals that I have ever had the pleasure of listening to. His music and his love of life, liberty and pursuits are unequaled. GOD BLESS UNCLE TED!!

  3. matthew johnson (4 years ago)

    Ted—-my hero! Now there is a man’s man if there ever was one. Keep it up Ted, you ARE making them squirm!

  4. Weekend Link Jam: July 2, 2011 - Play Guitar (4 years ago)

    […] NugentTed Nugent explains how killing animals will help your guitar playing in an interview at Guitar International. He’s got lots more interesting stuff to say about guitar-playing, staying productive at 63, […]

  5. david pennebaker (3 years ago)

    i loved this interview and ted,s comments about living close to earth and obama,s lies everydayand his cohorts ecspecially cnn and the like/ i also like the guitar comments on his gibson byrdland and his distinctive sound. my mother likes ted,s guitarand she is a moral upright person, no swearing around her. my mom and dad both were born in detroit. and we lived indavisburg holly mi when i was 15. all my friends hunted or trapped fished and i watch birds building houses and homes any ways i like,love teds music and it gets me doing like 2 strong cups of coffee, thanks for the interview and place to comment. david m pennebaker

    • Donna (3 years ago)

      David M. Pennebaker – did you work in YCC Muddy and Grimes camp and listen to rock and roll records all summer in 1978?

  6. John Sorensen (3 years ago)

    The title of this article and the comments in the article presume that Ted Nugent knows something about playing the guitar, which I dispute. If there is a connection between killing animals and playing the guitar, and if Ted Nugent is the person who represents that connection, I’d say that killing animals makes you a really tedious, overrated, boring hack guitarist.

  7. JD (2 years ago)

    Rock on Uncle Ted!

  8. Ted Nugent: 'Slaughter' Medicare, Medicaid, SS, Revoke Welfare Voting Rights - Page 6 - US Message Board - Political Discussion Forum (2 years ago)

    […] For Killing Too Many Bears Ted Nugent Pleads Guilty to Illegally Killing Black Bear | Ecorazzi Ted Nugent Interview – "Killing Animals Helps You Play Guitar" | GuitarInternational.com Ted Nugent, Poacher Ted Nugent, Poaching Again __________________ Congratulations President […]

  9. Dystopian Road Mix Vol. 2: Eastern Michigan to Washington, D.C. (Part 1) | Dystopian Dance Party (10 months ago)

    […] Also developing in parallel to Motown during the 1960s was the ongoing tradition of hard-driving Motor City rock and roll. Hamtramck‘s Mitch Ryder and backing group  the Detroit Wheels infused their Detroit soul influences with a post-Rolling Stones rock sensibility, leaving their indelible mark on electrifying covers including “Devil with a Blue Dress On” (originally written and recorded by Motown artist Shorty Long). A few years later, proto-punk upstarts the MC5 would push Ryder’s full-throttle blue-eyed soul even further, with acid-fried early singles like 1968’s “Looking at You.” And the Amboy Dukes‘ lead guitarist Ted Nugent, though better known today for making thinly-veiled threats of violence against sitting presidents, was instrumental in forging the guitar sound of Detroit rock with his 1967 version of Big Joe Williams‘ (by way of Van Morrison‘s) blues standard “Baby Please Don’t Go”: raw, overdriven blues-rock, with wails of feedback typically likened by Nugent himself to the sound of breeding animals. […]

    • Guitar International Magazine (10 months ago)

      We’re very familiar with the ’60s and early ’70s Detroit rock scene….Amboy Dukes, SRC, Savage Grace, Frost, etc. In our publisher’s garage band was a bassist named Mark Gougeon who ended up playing with Mitch Ryder….Mark and Rick and other members of their band snuck into Cobo Hall where they saw the likes of Terry Knight and the Pack, Len Barry, and more….and, of course, Rick is familiar with the old Grande Ballroom and Plum Street having visited head shops and seeing Cream, Vanilla Fudge, the Psychedelic Stooges, Frost, MC5 and more….