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James Kottak has finally spoken out about his departure from German hard rock legends Scorpions, saying he needed a break but that his time with the band was “a dream come true.”
“The last year, I finally took…after 30 non-stop years of rock – 35, actually – I just said, ‘Man, I need a break. I have to get away from this. I have to focus on James, make James healthy and get [myself] back to a hundred percent,” the drummer tells Mitch Lafon on his Rock Talk podcast. “‘Cause even when you’re with a great band like the Scorpions, you do burn out. And I was fortunate to come out where I am now.”
It was announced in the spring of 2016 that Kottak was taking leave from the group to battle his alcoholism, with former Motorhead drummer Mikkey Dee tapped to fill in. A few months later, Scorpions revealed Dee would be a permanent member going forward. Meanwhile, Kottak says he’s spent the last year focusing on “healthy living.”
“I swim, I ride my bike – that’s a bicycle – and I do walk and just enjoying life,” he says. “Plus, [spending] time with the kids – that was super, mega important. They’re all grown – they’re, like, 27, 24 and 20. But it was just the time to kind of reboot and figure out what I wanna do next. I did do some playing here and there, but, for the most part, it was, like, take a break and step back. And it’s the best thing I’ve done – ever!”
As for the split, he reveals it was more or less a mutual decision. “I started on my situation. Then there were some shows, and my situation wasn’t complete, so they brought [Mikkey Dee] in, which was cool with me,” explained the drummer. “And then, just time dribbles by, and next thing you know, it’s August and then September, and then they were doing South America, and I didn’t wanna do that. And then there’s only a handful of shows left, and then it was, like, okay, the year is over. So then we kind of talked and it was kind of like… It was just kind of mutual; it’s not like they said, ‘Hey, hit the bricks.’ But it was what it was, and it is what it is.”
Kottak says he considers Dee “a great drummer and a nice guy to boot,” adding that he is “so thankful and grateful for all the time I had with the Scorpions. I mean, talking about a dream come true.”
He added that at one point the band were considering a very different replacement. “Funnily enough, they also talked to Jason Bonham,” Kottak says. “And I’m, like, going, ‘Jeez, the guy who’s replacing me is a Bonham?’ But that didn’t happen.”
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