In a new interview with music writer Joel Gausten, drummer James Kottak (KINGDOM COME, ex-SCORPIONS) discusses a variety of topics, including staying active in the music industry after more than 30 years. An excerpt from the chat appears below.
Joel Gausten: You were doing things in the industry long before KINGDOM COME, and you've certainly done a lot since the band's original run, including having a great career with the SCORPIONS. You've been around a long time. What was the biggest lesson you've learned about the music business since the first KINGDOM COME album that you're applying to your work with the band now?
Kottak: "You have to be willing to do a lot of work on your own. We work as a group, and then, of course, we have a manager, a lawyer, an agent and all that stuff. But that only goes so far. You really have to learn the business. It's like with Gene Simmons — what an incredible businessman! He's one businessman who's been totally active with KISS and has taken it to a much bigger level. Whether you like the guy or not, I don't care. I love Gene Simmons. He's just a smart businessman and a really smart guy and very nice. I would say get everything up and running, get your music together, do everything you can possibly do on your own and then start seeking out big-time management or this or that. Or if you're really good like a GRETA VAN FLEET, look what happens — people come to you."
Joel Gausten: Your career has spanned decades at this point, which is rare in this business. You've worked with big acts and have been able to maintain that. Since you've been through it and are still in it and thriving and doing cool stuff, what has been the key to longevity and surviving in this insane business we're talking about?
Kottak: "Work. You have to get up and do the work. You have to show up on time. I'm not perfect; I've been late for many things, but you have to be willing to work. A lot of times, what happens with many bands is they put out an album, go on tour, put out another album, go on tour and they're pretty successful. They're coming up and blah blah blah, but then they get lazy because they've made a little bit of money after being broke for the previous five years. You have to continue, and you've got to love it. Like I said earlier, you've got to work with friends. They can't always be your best friends, but it makes life much more enjoyable when you have to go to a restaurant and sit with these people not once or twice but maybe thousands of times. That's the the key to the SCORPIONS. Everybody goes, 'What's the key to longevity?' [SCORPIONS guitarist] Rudolf Schenker's answer was always, 'Friendship and love of rock 'n' roll.' It's so true. I just went and saw SCORPIONS about a week ago here in LA, and they sounded phenomenal. [Singer] Klaus [Meine] was killing it, and I got to hang with the boys and say hi to all the crew guys; I've been friends with some of those guys for twentysomething years. That's the good part of rock 'n' roll. Then you've got the bad part. I tend to be a glass-full kind of a guy — no pun intended! [Laughs] That's the most important thing. If you've got to go to a rehearsal five days a week and do two months of shows with somebody you think is an asshole, then quit. It will never work."
The complete interview is available at this location.