Rocker James Kottak is best known as the drummer for Scorpions, which he joined in 1996. Hailing from Louisville, Kentucky, he has certainly come a long way since his days in the land of baseball and whiskey.
Beside performing on over 130 albums and dvd’s, and numerous tours with the Scorps, he has his own band Kottak. The latest Kottak CD titled Rock & Roll Forever is out now.
Maximum Ink: When did you first know you had to become a musician?
James Kottak: I saw a cover band at my sister’s school when I was in 5th grade and they played Stairway To Heaven. I immediately wanted a drum set, got one, and was obsessed. I also played trumpet from 4th grade on thru college.
MI: Who were some of your earliest influences?
JK: Led Zeppelin of course, Grand Funk Railroad (Live album), The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper). By the way I just saw the Beatles, Love show in Vegas, Amazing!
MI: When you first moved from Kentucky to Los Angeles did you experience culture shock? What was it like in the first days there?
JK: By the time I moved to L.A in 1987 I had toured most of America several times over with Louisville based bands, so it didn’t freak me out that much. But, it was very interesting to say the least, a freakshow, but I fit right in with all the loonies.
MI: Do you ever go back to Kentucky much? Do you miss it?
JK: I try to get back to the Ville, as much as possible. My mother, brother, sister, nephews, and nieces are all there. I do miss my friends and the whole local music scene a lot!
MI: When you first began your career did you ever think it would lead you to where it has?
JK: I always had delusions of grandeur as a kid hanging around at the KY State Fair every day. What it must be like to travel the world playing Rock N Roll,etc. I visualized it and it became reality. I encourage everyone to read The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale, it works for every aspect of your life! I am very thankful and lucky that I am where I am in my career and life. I am healthy that is what is really important.
MI: Why do you personally feel music is such a powerful comfort in most people’s lives?
JK: It is the ultimate escape from the real world. You can hear a great three minute country song while driving in your car and you’re taken into a short little story or on an adventure in your own mind. I think it relates a lot to when we were kids getting tucked in at night with a bedtime story.
MI: Your son Miles is in Blackout 101. Are you proud of the work he is doing in that?
JK: Miles is an incredible drummer. He literally destroys the drums when he plays. He eats cymbals for breakfast! My daughter is doing modeling/runway/print ads and is studying the fashion biz at college. My other son is 13 and into all the things 13 year olds are, Video games, etc. These kids grew up backstage at the arena.
MI: I asked him once what it was like to come from such a musical family and he said “It is not your typical Thanksgiving”. What are Thanksgivings like at your place?
JK: Understatement. Tommy (Lee) and I were pulling the turkey out of the oven one year and dropped the whole thing on the floor. We picked it up and put it back in the pan. The family never knew..lol.
MI: Is there one particular musical moment that stands out most in your mind?
JK: The Star Spangled Banner is my favorite song!
MI: What was it like to be asked to join Scorpions? Where you a fan before then?
JK: The phone rang and it was an English accented manager type voice saying, “James would you fancy to come over to Germany and play with the boys?” I said sure why not? I had met the Scorpions on the Monsters of Rock tour so we were friends. My band Kingdom Come opened for them for 5 months in 1988 and a MSG album with Michael Schenker. It was pretty natural playing with them as I had covered most of their songs in cover bands. They were always one of my favorites! A bit surreal, huh? They are the best guys in the world to work with. I have total freedom!
MI: Can you tell us a little about your band Kottak? How would you describe the Kottak sound?
JK: We are Cheap Trick meets Green Day on a bad day! Kottak is my passion project. I sing and play guitar which I absolutely love! I write 75% of the material. We have three albums out now. Greatest Hits (our first), Therupy (second), and Rock & Roll Forever (the third). Our fourth album, Kottak Attack! will be released in Spring 2011. We hope to tour Europe the month of April.
MI: What can fans expect from the live shows?
JK: Get up and rock! Leave your problems at home, Drink up! It’s gonna get loud!
MI: Is there anything you’d like to say to them?
JK: Buy our albums, all of them! But you have to come to a Kottak show, then it all makes sense.
MI: What projects are you currently working on?
JK: I am in pre-production mode for Kottak Attack, should be done by February 1. My record label Snug Records is releasing a great album by a band named Kleveland in March. I go to Chile for a Volkswagen Road Rally in early January. Yes, I am driving! Drum clinics in France in February. Scorpions shows and recording in Thailand (It’s a secret!). I hope to record this year on film for a Kottak/Scorpions Documentary to be submitted to the film festivals.
MI: How would you like to be remembered?
JK: He was a nice guy and a bad ass drummer who could scream!
CD: Rock & Roll Forever Record Label: S.N.U.G Records
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