Ted Nugent will always be a rock-and-roll animal - the predatory kind, that is.
The Detroit-born guitarist and hunting activist, who will be in concert Tuesday at the Stranahan Theater, turns 55 in December but is nowhere near ready to settle down. After 40 years in the business, the Nuge remains wildly passionate about his blunt-force rock music, and he speaks of his hunting with the same focused ferocity and wily determination that turned him into a rock-and-roll icon.
“I'm just wiping the blood off an arrow,” Nugent said by phone from his home in Texas. “Killed a beautiful buck this morning.”
A bloody arrow is no surprise with Ted, but what's the Motor City Madman doing with a home in Texas?
“We bought a ranch just down the road from President Bush and we're going to live here temporarily because of a condition at home I'm not allowed to talk about just yet, but eventually I shall,” he said mysteriously.
The guitarist, hunter, gun advocate, former radio talk show host, author, husband, and father of four added that he will keep his “piece of heaven,” a sprawling ranch near Jackson, Mich.
“I'm still a Michiganiac,” he said, “and Toledo is still a suburb of my barbecue zone.”
Nugent, who has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, plans to release his 31st album, “Craveman,” on Spitfire Records Sept. 24.
It's been seven years since his last studio recording, “Spirit of the Wild.” Why the long break between CDs? It seemed like a simple enough question, but the Motor City motor-mouth took the opportunity to explain a bit of his worldview and to share a few life lessons.
“I have priorities,” Nugent said. “If I'm anything, I am the master of quality life organizational skills. And I'm also spoiled rotten because I really can just call the shots. I can do whatever I want to do. I know that. I don't take advantage of that in a negative way, but rather I'd like to take it up in a positive way.
“I believe that when all things are taken into consideration, the fact is that a person only has 12 months in a year. When you are a parent and a husband, you've got to dedicate quality, meaningful family time within those 12 months. And I shouldn't have released ‘Free for All' so close to the ‘Ted Nugent' album [both in 1976]. I should not have released ‘Cat Scratch Fever' [in 1977] so close to ‘Free for All.' I think I released like five albums in four years.
“And even though there are some phenomenal pillars of musical history on all of those, there also are moments that are less than pillars of musical history. And I've learned that lesson, and the lesson is: What's the rush? What's the hurry? There should not be a musical hurry. There should never be a musical hurry.”
The exceptions, he said, are the rare moments of intense inspiration when an artist is driven to capture the muse, as he was with his song “Fred Bear.”
But back to the seven-year gap between studio releases: Nugent said he was too busy balancing - and enjoying - his jammed schedule of family life, touring, and hunting advocacy to set aside the time needed for a recording session.
“By the time I was done touring, though I had some great songs - I had some very exciting songs - I was just more excited about the promotion of conservation,” Nugent said.
Eventually, however, he felt that his band - with drummer Tommy Clufetos from Detroit and bassist Barry Sparks - had achieved such musical and artistic cohesion that it was imperative they capture their sound on disc. He said Clufetos and Sparks “could go from a Ted Nugent show right onstage with [John] Coltrane, right onstage with Sun Ra, or they could fill in for the Rolling Stones. There's nothing they can't do.”
Nugent said he may play a few of the new songs in Toledo, such as “Bridge Over Troubled Daughters,” “Bone Saw Massacre,” and “Doo Rag and a .45,” but he knows his fans want to hear the classics almost as much as he loves to play them.
In the meantime, Nugent will be joining Aerosmith and KISS in concert tonight at Comerica Park in Detroit - a show that was initially scheduled for Aug. 15 but was scuttled because of the Great Blackout.
“I don't think the unsuspecting civilian public even can begin to comprehend the complications” that the power outage caused the rock bands and concert promoters, he said.
“Good people were on site at Comerica Park for five days preparing for the concert,” Nugent said. “Expenditures exceeding $1 million had already taken place but guess what didn't happen? Income didn't happen. So they had to tear down [the staging] and turn it back into a ballpark and we have to start all over again. It is a giant black hole,” he said.
Nugent said he almost cringes - but not quite, he interjected, because the only thing that really can make him cringe is a Grizzly bear at his loins - when he hears himself, Aerosmith, and KISS described as “'70s bands” - a term he considers too “compartmentalized.”
“Because we're not. I mean, it's just fascinating to review the damage I've done starting in the '50s right up until tomorrow,” he said.
Promising that tonight's Comerica Park show will be “a monumental event,” Nugent said, “I know personally people coming from every state of the nation and probably most Canadian provinces. I'm sure all the KISS fireworks will be there. Steven Tyler will be a snarling sexpot. And I will scare all white people within eight miles.”
Nugent, who ran a Detroit radio talk show program for more than 10 years, is a member and honorary member of dozens of law-enforcement, conservation, and hunting organizations and has been active in some Republican political circles.
Is he considering a run for the governor's office in 2006?
“I don't know,” he said slowly. “What a life change that would be.”
The outrageous rocker takes his politics seriously, and he is taking aim at people who get government handouts that they don't need or deserve.
“What I represent is a pulse of common sense based on self-evident truths and the logic that real productive members of our society dedicate themselves to with great sacrifice and great heart and soul and work ethic,” Nugent said. “If you are on the receiving end of entitlements, you probably don't like me because I probably will cut you off [of government aid] if you are able-bodied.
“And if you smoke, I won't pay for your doctor bill. And if you can afford a gambling budget on your annual junket to Las Vegas, you don't get a low-income fuel subsidy, etc., etc., etc. When I say things like that I resonate with people who are fed up having their paychecks raped and pillaged on behalf of crybabies, whiners, and bloodsuckers. That's a good overview of what I represent,” Nugent said. “I want people who are truly needy to get benefits, not people who are just stupid and lazy.”
He said a poll taken last fall, shortly after Democrat Jennifer Granholm defeated Republican Dick Posthumus, showed that 91 percent of those surveyed said Nugent should run in 2006.
“That shows what a horrible condition we are in in the United States of America when the Motor City Madman and his middle fingers are invited to represent ‘we the people,'” Nugent said with a laugh.
Despite encouragement from the poll and elsewhere, Nugent said it's unlikely he will throw his camouflage hat in the ring.
“I don't think I would do any better in political office than from the streets, and that's where I'm going to stay for now.”
Ted Nugent will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Stranahan Theater. Tickets are $32.50 and $39.50 from all Ticketmaster locations and the Stranahan box office, 419-381-8851.