Former SCORPIONS Drummer JAMES KOTTAK: Being An Alcoholic Is 'A Rough Road'

Drummer James Kottak says that he is “doing really well,” two years after he was fired by the SCORPIONS during his well-publicized battle with alcoholism. He has since been replaced by former MOTÖRHEAD drummer Mikkey Dee.

Speaking to Meltdown of Detroit’s 101 WRIF radio station, Kottak said about his current health status (hear audio below): “As anybody knows who has an addiction, it’s a work in progress — you don’t just wake up one day and go, ‘I’m cured.’ I’m not like that.

“Over the last 10 years, I would say I was 90 percent sober, and then I’d have these struggles and I’d go through a bad two- or three-week period,” he continued. “So right now it’s, like I said, to use a cliché, it’s one day at a time and I work the program. I still go out, and if you wanna drink a bottle of Jack in front of me, go for it — [it’s] no big deal — but it is, like I said, a work in progress.”

Kottak went on to say that it’s more common for recovering addicts to relapse after treatment than it is for them to stay sober on their first try. “Part of recovery is the relapse,” he explained. “And that doesn’t mean you’re gonna go and, you know, blah blah blah, but it does happen, because I have the gene and I’m an alcoholic. And there are millions of alcoholics. But the thing is you have to acknowledge it and be honest with yourself. And it’s a rough road.”

Kottak, who joined the SCORPIONS in 1996 and played with the band for 20 years, says that he, like many other people, turned to alcohol to alleviate his suffering, especially while on tour. “I always kept occupied,” he said. “Being a drummer, I always had to get out and have a nice walk every day, which I still do. I ride my bicycle and I swim as much as I can. But for me, one of my problems was just chronic pain from 35, 40 years of just non-stop drumming and singing. So between taking [the over-the-counter painkiller] Aleve and some booze, you don’t feel anything. But, unfortunately, it eventually comes to a head where none of it works. And that’s where I ended up.”

It has been estimated that between 70 and 90 percent of all people who complete an addiction rehabilitation program will have at least one mild to moderate relapse before they are able to remain sober for any extended amount of time.

SCORPIONS guitarist Matthias Jabs recently said that he and his bandmates “had to make” the decision to fire Kottak, explaining that they gave the drummer “all the chances” to get better. “We reached the point — or he reached the point — where it was just not worth it,” Jabs said.

Kottak will tour this fall with a revamped version of KINGDOM COME, also featuring guitarists Danny Stag and Rick Steier, and bassist Johnny B. Frank, along with singer Keith St. John (formerly of MONTROSE and LYNCH MOB). Original frontman Lenny Wolf declined to participate in the trek, which will kick off on September 27 in Seattle, Washington.

Former SCORPIONS Drummer JAMES KOTTAK: Being An Alcoholic Is 'A Rough Road'
Former SCORPIONS Drummer JAMES KOTTAK: Being An Alcoholic Is 'A Rough Road'