'80s - Scorpions (2010)
'Get Your Sting On!'
Scorpions - one of the most successful rock bands in the world - have hit another career milestone. Their new and final album, STING IN THE TAIL, released March 23 via Universal Music Enterprises, entered the Billboard Top 200 charts at #23, marking the band’s highest chart debut in over 20 years.
Sting In the Tail features the anthemic single “Raised On Rock,” which is #2 on the Classic Rock Mediabase chart and adds to their remarkable list of hits.
Scorpions - KLAUS MEINE (vocals), MATTHIAS JABS (lead guitar), RUDOLF SCHENKER (guitar), JAMES KOTTAK (drums) and PAWEL MACIWODA (bass) - have also announced the dates for the North American leg of their “Get Your Sting and Blackout World Tour” world tour in support of the new album.
While still in the process of booking and selling out dozens of new dates in Europe, North and South America, Scorpions have announced their last ever tour to Asia. As part of the "Get Your Sting and Blackout World Tour" the band will be touring the Asian continent in February 2011.
I recently had the opportunity to speak with James Kottak about not only the new Scorpions CD, but his own band KOTTAK's upcoming CD release, 'Rock 'N Roll Forever' - not forgetting his early days on drums, his wife, the upcoming last Scorps tour, and, of course ... penguins!
Taking it from the top, and prior to joining Scorpions, you were the drummer for bands like Nut-House, Mister Charlie, Buster Brown, Montrose, Kingdom Come, Wild Horses, and in more recent(ish) times, the McAuley Schenker Group and Warrant! So, when did the drums first strike you as the instrument of choice back in the day, and can you remember the day you got your very first drum kit? "First, I am very proud to say that I have performed on more than 120 albums. I started playing trumpet in 4th grade. My best friend wanted someone to go to music class with, so he asked me. I wanted to play drums but the drummers had to play on a chair...no fun."
"I then saw a drummer up close at a local department store and I flipped out...I said, 'that's what I want to do!' I started asking around and my brother Lee had a friend with a Slingerland kit for sale...50 bucks! Then, I heard Led Zeppelin 4...the rest is..."
Growing up, knowing that drumming was to be your forte, who were your heroes in music - and have you since met them all, or is there one you would still like to meet today? "JEFF BECK! The Jeff Beck albums 'Blow By Blow' and 'Wired' were a huge influence on me. I saw him in concert when I was 12. I met him about ten years ago here in LA! COOL!"
"Of course John Bonham, Buddy Rich (I met) Mark Craney who did Gino Vanelli's 'Brother To Brother' album. Mark Farner of Grand Funk...that is how you do a R & R drum solo!"
Although having drummed for all those bands and more, your pet project band, Kottak sees you as lead vocalist and guitarist! Why the change of instruments? Were you sick of being shunted off at the back of stages after all these years, perhaps?! "KOTTAK is more than just a'pet project'. We just signed a worldwide deal with CMM International. Our album comes out in Europe on May 14. N America will follow in June. I have never been 'shunted off'...I will kick any vocalist or guitarist from the back of the stage in the ass!"
"I love to sing and have done so in every band I have been in since day one! I suck on guitar but look great playing...HA! I play DEAN Guitars! KOTTAK is an emotional and creative outlet. Athena & I write all the songs and create all the artwork. We are Cheap Trick meets Green Day on a bad day with a bit of Nickelback for spice!"
Indeed, with your wife, Athena on drums herself, in truth, who is the better drummer when it comes to straight out solo routines?! "Of course she is!...She doesn't really care for drum solos...she likes to sing! I LOVE drum solos...ME, ME, ME!"
And being that you changed your bands name to your own, when it was formerly known as KrunK, just why did you do that? "KRUNK was a word that Athena came up with that we used in our home in place of curse words when the kids were young...then, the rap world hi-jacked it. We signed a deal in 2006 with a label and they suggested it, so, it worked!"
Kottak now has their third album due for release this year, entitled Rock & Roll Forever. What can you tell me about this new album, how long in the making was it, and if one of the tracks had to be your favorite child, which one would it currently be?! "We wrote at least 100 songs over the past two years...we are constantly writing...especially Athena...she is always writing lyrics & song ideas. We collaborated with Tommy Henriksen & recorded the tracks at his Anarchy Studios in LA & Nashville in Sept and Oct 2009. Today I like the trak 'Drunk Unkle Pete', which is an Athena true story, tomorrow will be 'Sunset Blvd'."
You joined Scorpions in 1996, and so as it's been nearly 15 years now, is this your longest serving band member run to date? "YES! I am very proud to be a part of The Scorpions machine! I am in a band with my best friends!"
With bassist Pawel Maciwoda joining in 2003, you subsequently lost the title of the 'newbie' in the band - was that a weight off your shoulders, and did you instruct Pawel on the rules and regulations of being such a newbie within a band - ie: sandwich whore, coffee whore, etc.?! "Pawel is a great bass player! Nothing much to say...he's Polish...he can handle it! He fits right in!"
And now, after all this time spent with one of the greatest rock bands in musical history, it seems that Sting in the Tail will be the bands final swan song of an album! I know during its recording that it wasn't set out to be that way, so how did you feel upon hearing the fact - and are you 100% convinced that Scorpions will never, ever record again in the years to come? "It's liberating. We will obviously film & record the next two years!"
That said, you are about to undertake a massive European and North American tour soon. One that will come to an end in either 2012 or 2013!! My God man, how does one survive such a long stretch on the road like that without going nuts?! "INTERNET! I love touring and seeing the world! The Scorpions/we travel first class...comfy...!"
As a drummer, which Scorpions song is the one that gets you performing at your highest energy levels live on stage, and which one (be honest) is the one that, although it is a firm set fan favorite, you would rather not have to tackle live each night - and why? "'Big City Nights' is the epitomy of The Scorpions...I feel like a rock star playing that song. I don't have a song that I don't want to play...I am fortunate for the opportunity!"
Fun Five - OK, it's now time to fire off some quick questions - to allow those that think they know James Kottak to perhaps think again!
a) If you could take one (1) CD/album (not yours!), one (1) book, and one (1) DVD/movie with you on a relaxing getaway, which would they all be - and why? "'BACK IN BLACK' AC/DC...IT'S THE BEST ROCK ALBUM - 'THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING' NORMAN VINCENT PEALE...GOT ME WHERE I AM - 'SO I MARRIED AN AX MURERER' MIKE MYERS...MINE & ATHENA'S FAV FLICK!"
b) If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!) pop/rock song would you love to cover today...and why? "'CARELESS WHISPER' WHAM! IT IS THE ULTIMATE '80'S CHEESE!"
c) Do you have a recurring nightmare or dream - and if so, how does it usually end? "IT IS AN INTRO TAPE THAT SOUNDS LIKE THE END OF THE WORLD, BUT WE NEVER GO ON STAGE...YIKES!"
d) What is your sweetest, guiltiest pleasure (food wise!) late at night? "SOUP W/CHEESE & CRACKERS"
e) If you could meet any deceased celebrity, who would it be - and what would be the first question you would ask them? "JOHN BONHAM...CAN YOU SHOW ME HOW TO REALLY PLAY THE DRUM FILL AT THE END OF 'ROCK & ROLL'?"
You are one of the characters in the book Sex Tips from Rock Stars by Paul Miles, which will see the light of day this July. So, can you please tell me one of your sex tips now (as I cannot wait for the book to come out!) so that I can put it into practice this coming weekend?! "Don't fart!"
When Scorpions come here to play in Michigan this summer, I'd like to come backstage and say hello. The last time Scorpions came through I'd interviewed Rudy, who very kindly said he'd bring me out a beer! He did, and it was (in keeping with his German heritage) a Becks! So, if I meet up with you this time, what beer will you kindly bring out to me for us to drink?! "Definately not a Becks...probably a Bud in a can...I am VERY American from Kentucky!"
Lastly, and throwing you a journalistic curve ball, Exclusive Magazine loves Penguins (the flightless bird, not the hockey team!) ...do you? "YES! You know they can't walk backwards!"
Interviewed by: Russell A. Trunk
'Sting In The Tail' CD Purchase Link