National musicians from Tom Morello to Arlo Guthrie to Ted Leo supported Wisconsin's union protest movement earlier this year.
Now a musician is coming to town to declare that "government employees are rip-off artists that demand more than they produce."
Madison, are you ready for Ted Nugent?
The 1970s rock guitar god is banging out political rants as frequently as power chords these days. And you might need earplugs for some of them.
Unions? He says they've brought America to its knees.
During a 2007 concert, Nugent said then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was "a piece of shit" who could "suck on my machine gun."
Nugent, 62, is touring in support of his pro-America single, "I Still Believe." He plays Overture Center's Capitol Theater on Aug. 21. Joining him is Derek St. Holmes, the rhythm guitarist who played with Nugent's band in the mid 1970s.
Nugent declined a request for a phone interview last week but said he would welcome an email exchange. I thought that meant his managers might soften his replies. Boy, was I wrong.
What's it been like to reconnect with Derek St. Holmes on this tour? What does he add to the shows?
Having this incredibly talented Detroiter in the band full-time is wonderful. He has always joined us over the years here and there to sing the classics he originally sang, so we decided to do it all summer long. To hear and feel the original vocal identity to "Stranglehold," "Just What the Dr. Ordered," "Hey Baby" and others is a killer throttle down memory lane, with increased fire and intensity this year more than ever.
How has your relationship with the guitar changed with time? Do you feel like you play differently than you did 10 or 20 years ago?
I crave the purity of my musical primal scream, but always push myself into uncharted territory without losing the ferocity of my original black influences. My musical cravings are so pure that I never overthink or second-guess my natural impulsive, garage-band irreverence and spontaneity. I play my guitars all the time, so I have surely penetrated new territory every year.
What do you make of dance pop being more popular than guitar rock among most American youth these days?
America has been trading in her gold for turds for a number of years now, so this is simply another manifestation of embarrassing cultural deprivation. I believe soulful music will return to the fore when America wakes up from her soulless slumber of apathy.
What's your take on the way the Internet has changed music? Do you see it as generally positive or not?
It is a catastrophe, in that it inhibits wonderfully creative people from investing time and hard-earned money into producing brilliant new music, because there is no way to pay for its production when the world can steal it for nothing. I find it tragic.
Tell me a little bit about how the song "I Still Believe" was written. What was the inspiration?
I beat on my guitar daily, and my incredibly exciting life provides way more inspiration than I could ever harness into song, but I do so anyway. The Nugent family is involved in nonstop charity work with special needs and terminally ill kids, and with heroes of the U.S. military and their families. The spirit and inspiration we get from these very special people is incalculable. The undying spirit, courage and attitude I witness from people in dire circumstances humbles me beyond words. The "I Still Believe" song is my statement that I indeed do still believe in the human spirit of redemption. I still believe in America.
Why did you decide to make that the theme of your tour?
The level of corruption and criminal abuse of power in our government is completely unacceptable, and I know that the vast majority of caring, productive Americans are heartbroken at what our president and his gang of thieves are doing to us. The best rock 'n' roll is defiant in nature, and I have created the ultimate soundtrack for American defiance.
On the topic of politics, this year Wisconsin substantially limited the collective bargaining rights of public employees. There were intense protests against this at the state Capitol in February and March. Do you think public employees should have the right to collectively bargain, or do you see unions as too powerful a force in the public sector?
Overall, unions in America have brought this great country to its knees. The NEA has seen to it that American kids are the dumbest kids ever, the auto industry was raped, and government employees are rip-off artists that demand more than they produce. What's not to despise?
Wisconsin also just passed a law to allow concealed carry of handguns in the state. Do you think concealed carry makes communities safer or less safe?
It doesn't matter what I think. Every study ever conducted concluded that violent crime is reduced and neighborhoods are safest when gun-free zones are eliminated. Who doesn't know this?
Madison has a reputation as a liberal town. Given your own politics, what's your take on Madison? Do you like the city, or is too lefty for your tastes?
I have been rocking and hunting the great state of Wisconsin for over 45 years and connect with the good people of the Badger State. There are great Americans all across Wisconsin, including Madison, and I get along just wonderfully with all of them. People that hate America hate Ted Nugent, and I couldn't be more proud.