You don't so much interview Ted Nugent as jump in and hang on tight.
It's a lesson that has been driven home in recent years even to old pros like Piers Morgan on cable news, where the fiery Detroit-born rocker increasingly has become a go-to conservative panelist and debate opponent.
Nugent is long known around these parts for his no-holds-barred takes on guns, hunting, the military and American red-white-and-blue.
But the gun-control debate that flared up after December's Sandy Hook shootings became Nugent's news media moment. His head-to-heads with Morgan, in particular, turned into YouTube sensations, tallying hundreds of thousands of views. Nugent's fellow gun-rights defenders cheer his rambunctious happy-warrior approach (for his part, Nugent has come to call it "going Piers Morgan on somebody"). Detractors dismiss him as an oafish loudmouth, and try to look away.
That's been hard: As the gun-control debate has gotten louder, so has the 64-year-old Nugent, and his public profile has been higher than ever these past couple of years. He even attended February's State of the Union address, the guest of a Texas congressman.
"Don't think any of this is removed in any way from the music," says Nugent. "This kind of passion is the source of all my best music, for sure."
The guitarist, back in the headlines recently in the wake of the Trayvon Martin case, talked with the Detroit Free Press about his growing role as a de facto conservative spokesman.
Question: What was your emotional response to the Detroit bankruptcy news?
Answer: It's a tragedy, but I think I was over it a long time ago.
I visit Detroit every year, I spend half of my year in Michigan. I'll always be a Michiganiac. I'll always be a Detroiter.
I take my kids and my grandkids downtown and show them this magnificent architecture, and this beautiful river _ the No.1 walleye and bass fishery on the planet _ and I show them the glow of my old neighborhood that doesn't glow anymore. But I try to tell them how perfect it was when I was growing up, and show them this idyllic _ what was that movie with Jim Carrey, where he was fooled into thinking his world was perfect? ("The Truman Show.") I really did live a Truman thing. It was awesome. And then Mayor Coleman Young pulled down the screen.
Q: Where do you see things headed for the U.S.?
A: I'm afraid we have not seen the lowest of lows yet. ... Not only don't those liberal Democrats live within their means, but they'll probably punch you right in the nose if you recommend saving for a rainy day. ... I'm fearful it might erupt into '67 type riots, '68 type riots. I pray it doesn't, because for an American to attack a fellow American is the epitome of insanity, when we really are the last best place. We really have unlimited opportunities. ...
Like I tell my guys in my band: "You better not drink and smoke and get high, because you know what your sick day is? Your sick day is me taking your paycheck and hiring someone who's not sick." (Laughs) Because I've got to play that night. Because I've got a crew and drivers and overhead, you know? This is how real productive entities grow _ hire more people, generate more revenue, grow.
We're doing a rock 'n' roll interview, and I have to say this kind of stuff in 2013. Isn't that a tragedy?
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