TRIUMPH guitarist/vocalist Rik Emmett spoke to The Metal Voice about the first-ever feature documentary about the band’s dramatic career, “Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine” (changed from the working title of “Triumph: Lay It On The Line”), which will receive its world premiere on Friday, September 10 at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Asked about what it was like to see the TRIUMPH story — “warts and all” — told in film form, Rik responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): “You say ‘warts and all,’ and I think it’s the ‘and all’ that I would take issue with. First of all, Banger Films made it, and they’ve done this before — they’ve done it for IRON MAIDEN, they’ve done it for RUSH, they’ve done it for Alice Cooper and ZZ TOP. I mean, these guys, they’re experienced. But they’re telling their perspective of the story. They’ve done their research and then they decided, ‘Well, this is the angle we’re gonna take.’ So that’s the first lens you’re getting. The other thing is it’s not my story, because I was only a part of TRIUMPH. And, in fact, I don’t actually own that brand; Gil [Moore, TRIUMPH drummer] owns that brand. So you’re gonna get a little bit more of Gil‘s angle of it than Rik‘s. And that’s fine — I’m cool with that — but in truth and in fairness, I think people need to know that. That’s what you’re gonna see — you’re gonna see something that’s been passed through those filters.”
He continued: “So, is this okay? Have all three guys signed off on this? Yes. But you’re not getting my story… Truth is perspective. Truth is a point of view. And everybody understands that; it’s just everybody also has this sort of ego thing where they go, ‘Yeah, but my truth is better than his.’ ‘My truth is way more important than hers.’ And that gets back to that vanity thing again about how you have to let go. So the documentary, you’re talking about trying to find truth from an integration, and I’m saying compromise and collaboration, yes, you get a kind of an integration, but what I’m showing you here, that’s only two dimensions. There’s more to this than just what you see.”
Produced by Emmy and Peabody award-winning Banger Films, “Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine” is a Crave original documentary that was previously described as “a celebratory, exhilarating thrill ride through the history of one of rock’s most unsung acts.” The film covers TRIUMPH‘s humble beginnings as staples of the GTA circuit in the mid-’70s to their heyday as touring juggernauts, selling out arenas and stadiums all across North America with their legendary spectacular live shows — and way beyond.
Last year, Emmett told The Metal Voice about the making of “Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine”: “There’s a surreal nature to it — you’re going back in your life, and they’re reminding you of things that you’d completely forgotten,” he continued. “And you’re going, ‘Oh, yeah.’ And then they’re digging deeper, and they’re going, ‘So, when the band broke up…’ And you’re going, ‘Okay, this hurts, actually.’ I don’t wanna have to go back to that, because the rise and the fall and the rise again, it’s the fall that hurts. I don’t wanna go there. I thought I’d put all this behind me. It was ugly, heavy baggage.”
Emmett also talked about a “really extraordinary thing” Banger Films did while working on “Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine”. “They flew in fans from all over the world,” he said. “They created an event. And the fans didn’t know that we were gonna actually play three songs. So, they brought ’em all to the warehouse, and they’re wandering, and they’re looking at this TRIUMPH museum-y kind of thing. They’ve got dummies with my old spandex jumpsuits on. And then they send them down and they were gonna show them a few little clips on a scrim. The scrim drops and there we are and we play. And these are the people that love us the most. And there was only a couple of hundred of ’em. But it was so intense; it was so amazing. And, of course, they’ve got, like, 15 cameras around the room capturing every angle of this. And then you go, ‘Oh my God. This is heavy duty.’
“So it’s really good,” Rik added. “It really gets to the heart of, you’re a band, you create some music, you make a connection to people, and then here’s these people, you’re the soundtrack to their lives, and it matters to them. So they love you. I could get up there and fart, and they would go, ‘Yeah! Great!'”
The aforementioned invite-only event was held in November 2019 in front of 300 “superfans” at MetalWorks studio in Mississauga (a suburb of Toronto), Ontario, Canada. Emmett, bassist/keyboardist Mike Levine and Moore played a three-song set that marked TRIUMPH‘s first performance in 11 years, as well as its first as a pure three-piece power trio in 31 years. The tracks played were “When The Lights Go Down”, “Lay It On The Line” and “Magic Power”.
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.
Back in 2016, Moore and Levine reunited with Rik as special guests on the “RES 9” album from Emmett‘s band RESOLUTION9.
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.