Rik Emmett, who was estranged, both personally and professionally, from the two other members of the legendary Canadian classic rock power trio TRIUMPH for 18 years, spoke to The Metal Voice about his rekindled friendship and working relationship with Gil Moore and Mike Levine. He said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): ”When I went back in for reunions and filming documentaries and stuff, I was not reentering the partnership. I was not getting a piece of TRIUMPH back. The other guys own it. I was just coming in as if I was a sideman, a friend, participating purely out of friendship and stuff. There were no deals being cut that I cared about. They were saying, ‘Oh, if there’s any merch, we’ll give you (a piece of it).’ I go, ‘Yeah, whatever. I don’t care. Let’s just do this. I’ll do this for friendship and I’ll do this more for the sake of the legacy of the name of the brand,’ which I don’t even own anymore. I don’t have a piece of that, but I don’t care.”
He continued: “I think everything that I do, in a good spirit, towards the whole TRIUMPH thing, it only benefits me in the life that I have, the books that I write. I mean, c’mon, ‘triumph’, the word, is on the front cover of my book, because it helps me in the marketing of my own stuff. There’s no way around that.”
Emmett, who quit TRIUMPH — acrimoniously, in 1988 — over music and business disputes, went on to pursue a solo career, while TRIUMPH carried on with future BON JOVI guitarist Phil X for one more album, 1992’s “Edge Of Excess”, before calling it a day the following year.
Asked if there was anything that could have been done back in the 1980s to prevent him from leaving TRIUMPH, Rik said: “I think the thing that could have saved me is if the band had somehow, around 1984, ’85-ish, maybe after the ‘Thunder Seven’ album had come down the pipe with MCA, when we’d started there, if we’d had a conversation about, ‘Okay…’ Remember how KISS, each guy did their own solo album? Like, if there’d had been something where it’d be, like, ‘Hey, you know what? Let’s allow the partnership, the TRIUMPH brand to allow guys to step out. You’re not going to be quitting, you’re not going to be leaving, but you’re going to be given enough rope that you can go out and hang yourself. And then it will reel you back in when it’s time for us to do the next thing.’ But that was not the mindset at the time. And, of course, the mindset was — because it was the whole three-musketeers thing that it had been based on from the get-go, there was always the desire, the energy to try to save that, to try and hold on to that, as opposed to saying, ‘Wait, let’s kind of split it open and let air in.’ It was, like, ‘Oh, no. We’re not letting any air in.’ … Nobody was gonna go, ‘Yeah, yeah, here’s a budget so you can do your (solo thing).’ They’re going, ‘No, no, no, no. Give us a hit record. We wanna get our money back.'”
Emmett will release his long-awaited memoir, “Lay It On The Line – A Backstage Pass To Rock Star Adventure, Conflict And Triumph”, on October 10 via ECW Press.
Moore, Levine, and Emmett formed TRIUMPH in 1975, and their blend of heavy riff-rockers with progressive odysseys, peppered with thoughtful, inspiring lyrics and virtuosic guitar playing quickly made them a household name in Canada. Anthems like “Lay It On The Line”, “Magic Power” and “Fight The Good Fight” broke them in the USA, and they amassed a legion of fiercely passionate fans. But, as a band that suddenly split at the zenith of their popularity, TRIUMPH missed out on an opportunity to say thank you to those loyal and devoted fans, a base that is still active today, three decades later.
After 20 years apart, Emmett, Levine and Moore played at the 2008 editions of the Sweden Rock Festival and Rocklahoma. A DVD of the historic Sweden performance was made available four years later.
Back in 2016, Moore and Levine reunited with Rik as special guests on the “RES 9” album from Emmett‘s band RESOLUTION9.