Interview with Ted Nugent, Bruce Hall and Lawrence Gowan
“My 2013 Tour with Mick, Greg & Derek and the hardest working crew in the business is more fun today than ever, so when we team up with fellow dedicated musical madmen like these, the intensity level is ferocious. What’s not to love!?” Those are the words of the “Motor City Mad Man” Ted Nugent on fellow touring acts REO Speedwagon and Styx as the “Mid-West Rock ‘n’ Roll Express Tour” makes its next stop in East Rutherford, NJ on April 26 at the Izod Center.
The “second coming” of these three ’70s and ’80s iconic rock bands began only as a handful of shows out in America’s heartland but has evolved into a full fledged national tour. “We started this tour last year,” said Styx keyboard player Lawrence Gowan, “We weren’t sure if the combo of the bands would work but the audiences are really eating up the different styles; we’ve added twenty four or twenty five extra dates. We are winding down now actually, we’re due to wrap the tour up in May and it’s been fabulous.”
REO Speedwagon bassist Bruce Hall echoed those sentiments as well, “It amazes me, yea, yea, some of the songs from us and the other bands are still standing up. We are so excited to see the crowds still showing up, appreciating our music; we know how hard it is for folks to come out after working hard all day, money, getting baby sitters and the such, yet they are taking the time to come see us, we love them to death and appreciate them for it. Can you make sure that they print that, because we really feel that way.”
The groups all agree that although their music has remained pretty much the same, that they have grown and changed immensely over the course of their careers. “Clearly I defined adorable, precious and pure animal intensity in my teens, and have improved upon it every year since,” said Nugent, “But quite honestly, if young Ted showed up today, we would kick his ass up one side and down the other on our stage of fiery soulmusic celebration. And that’s REALLY saying something. The focus and increased soulfulness of what we do is immeasurable.” Gowan was a bit more reflective, “This is my fourteenth year with Styx and it’s every bit as enjoyable now as it was from the beginning. I mean we have a whole new audience now who weren’t even around when we first came about, it’s a great feeling.” Twenty five year REO member Hall recalls the difference between then and now, “When the guys called me to join the band I only had a week to learn all of the material before we went on the road. “High Infidelity” was big for us, touring then was fun. We were a bunch of knuckleheads trying to make music back then, now we all get along much better; we’ve definitely learned how to tour better (laughs).”
The bands rotate the headliner position so that not one act gets the same slot consistently, sometimes even joining one another on stage as well. “Towards the end of the last tour, Ted would join us on stage and he’d play a few,” said Gowan. “He’s never too happy to see keyboards though (laughing) but he warms up.” “The bands interact well,” said Hall. “Ted is a rock and roll phenomenon; he’s so much fun!”