Triumph: Back for another round

Other than Rush, one of the internationally best-known trios to come from Canada would be hard-rock band Triumph. Formed in Toronto in 1975, the band would go on to rack up gold and platinum albums on both sides of the 49th parallel while playing high-profile shows such as the legendary US Festival in 1983 alongside Motley Crue, Ozzy Osbourne and Judas Priest.

The glory days wouldn’t last forever though. After having released eight records plus one live album together, guitarist-vocalist Rik Emmett left the group behind for a solo career in 1988.

An amicable split from the band it was not. In fact, Emmett had little to no contact with his band mates until 2007 when the group was inducted into the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame. One year later, Triumph was awarded a spot into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame during the 2008 Juno Awards.

Those significant band milestones were followed up with two concerts that same year (one in Sweden, the other in Oklahoma) but little has been heard from the band since.

From his home in Toronto, guitarist Rik Emmett acknowledges that rekindling his friendship with his former band mates was not high his list of priorities for many years. The inspiration to eventually do so was actually spurred on by Emmett’s late brother Russell who eventually passed away from cancer.

“When I was on the outs with the guys in the band, I wasn’t interested in reaching out to them at all,” Emmett confesses.

“Then my brother got sick and as he was taking stock of his life, he suggested that I carried a lot of baggage in my own life. I instantly knew what he was getting at but was hesitant to really do anything about it.

“He totally turned the tables on me and at first I was like ‘This isn’t about me, Russell’ but then realized the band meant something to him. So out of respect and honor to my brother, I wanted to become a better man and find my way to forgiveness and reconnect with Gil and Mike.”

Last month, the group released “Greatest Hits: Remixed”, a CD/DVD collection that includes the group’s most popular songs. The DVD is certain to be the collector’s item for the die-hard fans, featuring live and promo videos of the band’s songs as well as footage of the band’s inductions to the above mentioned hall of fame ceremonies.

Emmett confirms the band is in discussions with mega-promoter Live Nation about future Triumph live activity (“We are going to dinner with them”, he said during our interview) but is also adamant that nothing is written in stone for the better or worse. Emmett feels one of the biggest obstacles to future activity might lay within the band itself.

“I think one of the largest mountains to climb would be whether Gil can work himself back into shape and be willing to leave his family and the Metalworks Empire to go on tour.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for the guys in Rush who go on the road and can keep finding the ability to play the young man’s game that is touring. Touring can become a much greater challenge when you hit middle age,” he says.

“Gigs end up being a little more demanding at our age,” the 56 year-old notes.

When asked about the possibility of new music from the legendary trio in the future, Emmett says it could be a possibility but again refuses to say that it is a sure thing:

“Look, I spent a lot of time saying a Triumph reunion would never happen and here we are,” he laughs. “It’s impossible to get a crystal ball and see exactly what the future holds.

“From what I can tell, the music business seems to be following the law of diminishing returns these days. I don’t want to sound like an old fart saying there is no good music being made these days, I just don’t think the market is all that ripe for new music from us.

“For a band of our age and for the stage we are at, I think we could look at re-working some of our old material and running with that instead of concentrating on making new music.”

You can visit Triumph’s home on the web at http://www.triumphmusic.com/.