The Dio Message Board recently conducted an interview with SCORIONS/ex-KINGDOM COME drummer James Kottak. A couple of excerpts from the interview follow:
The Dio Message Board: What was it like playing drums in Ronnie James Dio's band for the few shows that you did with him on his "Angry Machines" tour?
James Kottak: "Wow, well playing with Ronnie James Dio was like a dream come true. But the biggest part of it was that I was so honoured and flattered to be asked to fill in for Vinny Appice. That made me more nervous than actually playing with Ronnie James Dio. Vinny called me at the time. The extreme part about this was that, wow, Vinny would actually call ME to sub for him. That blew my mind right there. Then to go and PLAY with Dio, because I learned how to play double bass drums to 'A Light in the Black' from 'Rainbow Rising'. So I go, 'Wow, I’m going to play with DIO and I’m filling in for Vinny!' I found out about this a few days before, I showed up at the gig in Orange County and did the show. I WAS nervous plus I had a big fight with my wife Athena the night before so I was all screwed up. [laughs]"
The Dio Message Board: Are there any [SCORPIONS] shows being filmed on your most recent tour for a possible DVD release or is there any possibility of any promo videos from the more recent albums being released on DVD?
James Kottak: "Coming up in July, we are releasing a DVD called 'One Night in Vienna', and it's also a rockumentary, the history of the SCORPIONS and it is almost three hours' worth of material. The 'One Night in Vienna' is us performing for about 100,000 people, which is very cool. Then the rockumentary covers SCORPIONS from the very very beginning in 1967 up until the present, That will come out in July. Then we also plan on releasing in 2006 a live retrospective from the last 10 years which is great, because I've played on all of it. Then it's like five or six songs from different eras, like 1996, then 2000 then up until the present."
The Dio Message Board: Were you a fan of the SCORPIONS when you joined them and what did you have to play in your audition in order to get the job?
James Kottak: "I was always a SCORPIONS fan for the songs on the radio because in America they played them non-stop. I was never the guy that went out and bought their records but I was always like their songwriting and the songs and the whole vibe. Then I was in a band called KINGDOM COME in 1987-1990 and we opened for the SCORPIONS and I saw them and they were so professional on the Monsters of Rock tour, I was totally blown away. But, I never went out and bought their albums, I never went out and bought any other albums either. I was a fan of all music, good or bad, it was on the radio so much I didn’t need to buy it. I spent all my money buying drums, drumsticks and cymbals. In the audition I knew most of the SCORPIONS music from playing in cover bands. I'm from Louisville Kentucky. That’s how I earned my money in the early '80s — we played 'Still Loving You', 'Rock You Like a Hurricane', 'Big City Nights'. The flattering point with the SCORPIONS [was] when I did fly to Germany for the 'audition,' it wasn't so much an audition, more like, 'Let's get together and see how it feels.' So, I was very flattered about that because they did audition like another 25 drummers. I was very flattered to be picked."
The Dio Message Board: What are your favorite tracks to play in a live environment and do you have control upon the live setlist and any other decisions within the band or is it more of a Meine/Schenker control thing ?
James Kottak: "I am very fortunate, because from day one with these guys, I've never been a 'side man.' Just like Vinny Appice is not a sideman, he's a band guy. They hired me because I am a band guy, and Rudolf, Klaus and Mathias, they all encourage the band formula. On 'Eye II Eye' in 1999, I wrote two songs, on 'Unbreakable', which came out in 2004, I wrote three songs. I can say whatever I want, I can do whatever I want, I made it clear from the very beginning. As a band member, it’s kind of like a law firm…it's like the 'Meine/Schenker/Jabs' law firm and I'm like a junior partner. [laughs] ... and every year it gets better and better. I'm invited to the party, I'm involved in all the meetings. If there is something I don't like, I have the freedom to say whatever I want. That is worth a gazzilion million bucks because many situations they want you to play drums and shut up. I would not be in this band if it was that way. I am so lucky."
Read the entire interview in the "Don't Talk to Strangers" forum at The Dio Message Board (free registration required).