As a Texas resident for the past six years, a diehard conservative and a personal friend of Gov. Rick Perry, there's no question where Ted Nugent's loyalties will lie during the 2012 presidential campaign. His capacity to be vocal about his candidate, however, is still up in the air.
"As dear a friend as I consider Gov. Rick Perry, I won't be surprised -- and he and I have talked intensively -- if I'm not given an authorized position in the campaign because I'm too divisive," Nugent, who moved from Michigan to the Crawford, Texas, area in 2005, tells Billboard.com. "I don't know if I'll get a stamp of approval because I am so volatile and because the line in the sand in a political campaign can be so ambiguous -- and I'm anything but. The reality is that Perry must penetrate what is presumed to be the non-Perry demographic, and if I scare them away so he doesn't get their ear, then I'm being counterproductive."
Nevertheless, Nugent plans on being part of the discourse, even if he functions as "just a 'We the People' guy." He is, in fact, "already booking next year's tour to be the most effective in it's geographical impact and its statement," and he's confident he can straddle a line between political rabble-rousing and rock 'n' roll irreverence.
"That bully pulpit can also have a serious tone to it," Nugent explains. "But on a rock 'n' roll stage, I can tell Hillary Clinton to straddle my machine gun. The more something causes problems with people, the more I'll say it 'cause it's rock 'n' roll and you can eat me. But that's a rock 'n' roll show. I know how to change the tone. If you can differentiate between what goes on on a rock' 'n' roll stage and a dialogue... then we can actually move forward."
Music will be occupying Nugent's time in addition to politics during the coming year, too. He toured this year with Derek St. Holmes, the singer in his original band, and he also has a new song, "I Still Believe," available on his website. The song was inspired by the charity work he does with children and injured military personnel -- "People who are stronger than me," Nugent notes -- but he considers it more of a demo than an actual single.
"It's doesn't have the big, musical sound I'd normally get," he explains. "The guitars aren't what they need to be. The drums aren't what they need to be. But I'm not going to spend $100,000 to give something away. I'll spend $10,000 to give something away, and I wanted to get that song out there."
A new album, meanwhile, is also in the offing, with a batch of songs written that include "Trample the Weak, Hurdle the Dead" and "Never Stop Dreamin'."
"It's monster stuff," promises Nugent, who's also working on a "tell-all" memoir to be called "Stranglehold." "The challenge is to find that one hour's worth of 10, 12 songs that are the baddest... of all. We're so on fire with this band that we keep coming up with another, then another, then another... At some point you gotta say, 'Stop with the new ones! Let's stick with what we've got here.' But there's such a growing fury in my music that it's hard to stop, so I'll keep going 'til they make me."