Former SCORPIONS drummer James Kottak says he’s in discussions with singer Lenny Wolf for a reunion of the original lineup of ’80s rockers KINGDOM COME, a band perhaps best known for its uncanny musical resemblance to LED ZEPPELIN. Kottak played on the band’s first two albums, 1988’s “Kingdom Come” and 1989’s “In Your Face” before leaving the same year. Kottak went on to play on MCAULEY SCHENKER GROUP‘s 1992 “MSG” album before joining SCORPIONS in 1996.
In a recent interview with Jade from Shut Up & Rock On, Kottak was asked how he got to know the members of SCORPIONS before joining. “KINGDOM COME, when our album came out in 1988, we got on the ‘Monsters Of Rock’ tour,” he said (hear audio below). “That was VAN HALEN, SCORPIONS, DOKKEN and METALLICA. We were the opening band. We went on about 1:45 every day. KINGDOM COME and SCORPIONS were on the same record label at the same time, so we always stayed at the same hotel with them. We had quite a few dinners together. The ‘Monsters Of Rock’, we only played three days a week, so there’s a lot of hanging out time so you get to know each other quite well, that was over a three-month tour. Then we did an indoor arena tour, KINGDOM COME opening for SCORPIONS, for like, twenty shows. You get to know people and blah, blah, blah. A couple of years later, I did an album with Michael Schenker and Robin McAuley, the ‘MSG’ album, and rock and roll is a really small world. Years went by and one day the phone rang in 1995, it was their manager going ‘So, James, I manage the SCORPIONS and they’re interested in seeing if you want to come over to Germany and have a play.’ I went ‘Sure!’ I went over and we picked up where we left off. Also, the producer, Keith Olsen, I did probably fifteen, sixteen albums with him as a drummer appearing on other people’s albums, plus he produced KINGDOM COME. SCORPIONS did ‘Crazy World’ with him, so I’d drop by the studio and visit with him. I said to the manager, ‘What made them think of me?’ He said ‘They remembered you were a very nice guy. And also you were a very good drummer.’ I go ‘That’s great to hear, man.’ So you never know. I played on some tapes and stuff and I flew over. The rest is history. I was so fortunate, so lucky, so thankful for the opportunity. Twenty-one years I was with SCORPIONS. I have no regrets. I’m still really good friends with them.”
Kottak was then asked about his time in KINGDOM COME, which was highlighted by singles “Get It On” and “What Love Can Be”, catapulting their 1988 self-titled debut album to platinum status in the United States:
“I’m so proud of those first two albums,” said James. “I co-wrote on both of them on a few songs. They’re just great albums. The songs are great. Lenny‘s incredible. We just killed it. On that note, I’m actually talking to Lenny in hopes we can, next year, do a KINGDOM COME — I don’t want to call it a ‘reunion,’ but a KINGDOM COME ‘regroup’ because it will be the thirtieth anniversary of our debut album. I know we’ve never done this. The original five [members] are available and we were actually going to do this around 2012-13, but as you know, SCORPIONS said farewell and changed their mind and we continued on. So I had to put that on the backburner. Now, we’re talking and we’ll see what happens. I love that. I love the music and the people. Lenny‘s great, the whole band is great. We’ll see what happens.”
Kottak was asked what he had in mind for a hypothetical KINGDOM COME reunion. “We would definitely do some shows, maybe do as many festivals and in between the festivals, do some House Of Blues [shows],” he said. “We’ve never toured in this capacity. There’s been a lot of demand for it. Especially when you have the original five, that’s what special about it. You have interchangeable people all the time in all these bands, so we’ll see what happens. We’re just in the planning stages. Hopefully it happens and maybe it won’t. You never know.”
The LED ZEPPELIN comparisons dogged KINGDOM COME throughout their ’80s peak, in particular, Wolf‘s vocal resemblance to ZEPPELIN singer Robert Plant and the band’s penchant for blues-based hard rock, a style ZEPPELIN helped pioneer. Kottak was asked how he felt about these ongoing claims. “If you’re going to be accused of something, at least rip off the best,” he said. “It was just great music. My drumming compared to [legendary ZEPPELIN drummer] John Bonham? Thank you, I’ll take it. I think some of the responses from a couple of the guys in the band maybe misled people.
“The press is so funny when a band comes and they get huge really fast. They love to knock them down, some press people do. Sometimes the press won’t. It’s like, good news travels fast, but bad news travels faster. That’s what happened to KINGDOM COME. The same thing happened to QUIET RIOT in the early days. It’s what it was. I’m super-proud of this stuff. I never had a problem with it. Call us ‘ZEPPELIN rip-offs.’ Who cares?
“Before I even went to audition, I got this tape and these four songs were on there. It was just Lenny with his drum machine and him singing. I went, ‘Oh my God! This is phenomenal.’ I listened to the tape three times in a row. It was ‘Get It On’ and ‘What Love Could Be’ and ’17’ and some other song. I was just going ‘This is great!’ If anything, ’17’, if you listen to STP‘s [STONE TEMPLE PILOTS] ‘Vasoline’, it’s a complete rip-off of ’17’. It’s the exact same riff. It goes round and round. Who cares? It’s just rock and roll.”
After its early run of success in the ’80s, KINGDOM COME released several albums, with Wolf remaining the only constant member of the band. The group’s most recent effort is 2013’s “Outlier”.
Last September, Kottak was dismissed from SCORPIONS during his well-publicized battle with alcoholism and was replaced by former MOTÖRHEAD drummer Mikkey Dee.