James Kottak says that he is “thankful” for the two decades he got to spend as the drummer in the SCORPIONS.
Last September, Kottak was dismissed from the legendary German hard rock band during his well-publicized battle with alcoholism and was replaced by former MOTÖRHEAD drummer Mikkey Dee.
Speaking to “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon”, Kottak stated about what he has been doing since his exit from the SCORPIONS (hear audio below): “The last year, I finally took… after thirty non-stop years of rock — thirty-five, actually — I just said, ‘Man, I need a break. I have to get away from this. I have to focus on James, make James healthy and get [myself] back to a hundred percent.’ ‘Cause even when you’re with a great band like the SCORPIONS, you do burn out. And I was fortunate to come out where I am now.
“The last year has been a lot of just healthy living,” he continued. “I swim, I ride my bike — that’s a bicycle — and I do walk and just enjoying life. Plus, [spending] time with the kids — that was super, mega important. They’re all grown — they’re, like, twenty-seven, twenty-four and twenty. But it was just the time to kind of reboot and figure out what I wanna do next. I did do some playing here and there, but, for the most part, it was, like, take a break and step back. And it’s the best thing I’ve done — ever!”
Calling his replacement, Mikkey Dee, “a great drummer and a nice guy to boot,” Kottak said that he is “so thankful and grateful for all the time I had with the SCORPIONS. I mean, talking about a dream come true.”
According to James, his departure from the SCORPIONS was the culmination of a series of events that began nearly a year and a half ago. “It was a funny process, because [in] April of 2016, we had to cancel some shows ’cause, unfortunately, Klaus [Meine, SCORPIONS singer] got sick,” he explained. “And then we were faced with a few months off. And I was going, ‘Jeez, what am I gonna do?’ So I started on my situation. Then there were some shows, and my situation wasn’t complete, so they brought him in, which was cool with me. And then, just time dribbles by, and next thing you know, it’s August and then September, and then they were doing South America, and I didn’t wanna do that. And then there’s only a handful of shows left, and then it was, like, okay, the year is over. So then we kind of talked and it was kind of like… It was just kind of mutual; it’s not like they said, ‘Hey, hit the bricks.’ But it was what it was, and it is what it is.”
Kottak went on to say that Dee wasn’t the only drummer SCORPIONS were considering as a possible replacement for him when it was obvious he would no longer play with the band. “Funnily enough, they also talked to Jason Bonham,” James revealed. “And I’m, like, going, ‘Jeez, the guy who’s replacing me is a Bonham?’ But that didn’t happen.”
SCORPIONS guitarist Rudolf Schenker told “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” last month that he was “very sad” about James‘s exit from the band. “I always thought that he would be until the end with us,” Rudolf said. “We gave [him] a lot of possibilities. We paid [for] his rehab and we tried to really make things happening. We tried to get James on the right track, and we were waiting for the last three years, actually — since ‘MTV Unplugged’, at least. And we couldn’t change it. To book a tour and then also traveling around the world and everything is set up, the crew, you can’t really count on somebody who is not stable.”
During his “Rock Talk With Mitch Lafon” interview, James revealed that he is working on a new album from his KOTTAK project in which he plays guitar and sings. The effort is scheduled to be completed by the end of this year for a tentative early 2018 release.