The Elusive Scorpion King ; Interview

What am I talking about ?

Well, I have been trying to get a few minutes with former Scorpions drummer and Kingdom Come founder James Kottak for the better part of a year and half. I have gone through two publicists and even begged a couple of his bandmates to put a word in for me. ” James doesn’t do many interviews and it’s sometimes a challenge to get in touch with him ourselves, but I’ll see what I can do” is the most common reply.

Finally I did succeed and we got it going, and was able to chat for over an hour with the elusive one.

James Kottak is very well known in the rock world ; obviously as the drummer of Germany’s Scorpions, one of the founding Fathers of 80’s rockers, Kingdom Come and also as a personality on the MTV series Ex Wives of Rock where he was cast in season 2 and 3 as his ex wife Athena stars in the show. Athena is also the sister of Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee…………..just in case you didn’t know.

Anyway, when I called James, the conversation started off like a commercial ; “where’s the beef. where’s the beef” ; instead it was replaced withcan you hear me?…can you hear me now?” Apparently James and I share the same cell phone provider, but as James schooled me “I am not moving from this spot ; it’s the only spot in the place that I get decent cell coverage” It was my cue so I moved around my tiny little flat and we got down to business.

Below is the transcript of the interview.

What  are your thoughts on C19 & what you been doing?

At this point I think it’s overkill and we need to get back to work. Aside from walking my cat in this 104 degree heat…..not much. In terms of music ; we have done some virtuals, but that’s it. We are not set to play live again until Spring of 2021. This year we were going to be headlining 8 shows, playing festivals, playing Europe…….it was going to be a great year…..but when the lockdowns started we were very disappointed. The good news is that none of our shows have been cancelled…just postponed to a later date.

104 ?…..Where do you live ?

I  live in the San Bernardino Valley, Woodland Hills area. It’s a nice area in the middle income bracket ; Beverly Hills is way too expensive, and Hollywood is a dump. Where I live is there a lot of actors.musicians and rockers. 

Speaking of musicans, who is your favorite Canadian band?

I really like Rush, but actually my all time fav happens to be Nickleback. These guys are so tight on stage and so I don’t understand why people slam on them.

And umm, your favorite drummer and guitar player.

My favorite drummer has always been Jon Bonham, but I have to give honourable to Dave Grohl and the dude from Korn

What do you do for leisure currently as everything is on hold.

I’m actually a pretty low key person. I usually walk to get groceries a couple of times a week as it’s a little community here. At night, I will go for a walk about three times a week, and I really don’t drive much. When I do need to use my Pathfinder……………..I do . (laughter)

B4 I forget ; I was surprised you mentioned a country artist and liking her music, so what is your take on the “new” country ?

Yeah, I love the country sound of the last 10 years or so ; I mean Mutt put the new country on the map with Shania, but there are a lot of great country artists now. I don’t drive much but when I have to take Pathfinder out, I always have country on. Garth Brooks is great and Keith Urban is phenomenal; he’s not only a great singer, and guitar player…..he actually writes most of his songs. In a nutshell, country music in the recent years, was just like the 80’s vibe… just added more cowbell, as legendary producer Bruce Dickinson had suggested.

When were you last recognized as James Kottak the rocker drummer…………outside of a music setting

Actually the other day ; I was standing in line at the grocery store and this woman was like…..are you the former Scorpions drummer? I appreciate my fans and being recognized from time to time, if it isn’t intruding on my personal space or an improper setting ; my thought is when they stop inquiring or asking…….I’m in trouble.

There are rumours and speculation of a new Kingdom Come album, but apparently the band are in discussions with former lead singer Lenny Wolf. If this is true, what stage are you in ?

This is true Ernest ; the thing is Lenny and I formed the band and we had a licensing agreement that if the band broke up, we would both have to agree about the band moving forward and using the name. Lenny is a great guy, but he takes so long to do things and sometimes makes things difficult. We have decided that since we have a bunch new songs ready to go, we are going to use a name that is a play on words and everyone will know we are still Kingdom Come and will have the same kind of sound. The only change would be that we now have Keith St John behind the mic.

It is a well known fact, that you suffer from the disease of alcoholism……… which I suffer as well,  How are you doing currently.

I am doing very good ; I am in no way perfect, as I may have a drink from time to time. My thinking is that life is hard and short. If I want to indulge once in awhile, I am content with it.

What is your current relationship status (good, bad, civil) with your ex wife and drummer Athen Lee, who we all know is Tommy Lee of Motley Crues sister

It’s like this ; she has her ways and I have mine. We were married for 23 years and it takes its toll as I was gone a lot. You grower older and sometimes you change, so she went her way and I went mine. In 2016 ,I came back from a 92 day rehab stint on Antigua Island at the famous Crossroads facility that Eric Clapton founded. She then asked me to go and stay with her for a while and I thought that was really nice. We tried to work things out, but within 6 months or so, we  realized the same issues we had previously were starting to rear its ugly head again.

Anyway, when she got her tv show Ex Wives of Rock, I think that changed her. The other girls were always whispering in her ear, and quite frankly, her ego kept getting bigger and bigger. I was happy she had her own thing to do, but yeah it did change her. Having said that I don’t wish her any ill will or anything like that.

Speaking of the Lee’s, you and Tommy must have got along great as you are both drummers and you were married to his sister. Do you still speak ?

Tommy is a really good guy, and since the breakup, I don’t remember where and when I saw him last. He is also surprisingly a very quiet guy. I remember when I was married to Athena, Tommy would always invite us over during the holidays and for the kids to go swimming in his pool. There were some really good memories with Tommy, but to sum things up………………..we haven’t spoken in quite a while.

I remember one of the episodes on Ex Wives of Rock where you had appeared in one of the scenes. The scene was where she was razzing you about TALKING VERY LOUD!!!! and EATING LOUD!!!

When you were eating your rice a few mins ago while we were chatting, I could here you smacking a mile away. It was deafening (laughter)

Last question ; When things get back to normal, do you have any Canadian dates.

You read my mind as before C19 hit, we were discussing going up to Canada to play some dates to support the album after it’s release. I have played up there before and the fans and people are top notch.

Next week. I will bring you a book review and an interview with Judas Priests Rob “Metal God” Halford.

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Ernest Skinner