September 27, 2023
Guitarist RIK EMMETT Looks Back On TRIUMPH's Decline - "I Wanted To Write Songs That Approached Pop, But The Other Guys Wanted Arena Heaviness"

Speaking with Guitar World in a new interview, Triumph frontman, Rik Emmett looks back on the band’s career, addresses those Rush comparisons, and reveals how they kept the Rock & Roll Machine running – until it ground to a halt. Following is an excerpt from the story.

On the constant comparisons between Triumph and Rush in the early days, and Triumph’s slow decline:

“You’ve got two three-piece bands from Canada, the lead singers sing kind of high, and the guitar players are blond – I get it Musically, Rush were quite different from us. They became much more progressive-minded, and their whole ensemble became a very conscientious kind of activity. The band I was in was something else entirely. Gil (Moore /drums, vocals) would have been quite happy to play in KISS or Bad Company. I aspired to a higher level. I wanted to write songs that approached pop, but the other guys wanted that blues base. They wanted arena heaviness. Eventually, there was tension between us, and after a while I wanted out.”

Read the complete interview here.

Emmett’s new memoir, Lay It On The Line – A Backstage Pass To Rock Star Adventure, Conflict And Triumph, will be released on October 10 via ECW Press.

Emmett talked about the book in a new interview with Etcetera With Kelly Barrett (watch below).

On reaching a place of vulnerability where he felt safe enough to be candid telling his life story to the world, Rik reveals: “I have had much of a problem with being honest and being candid. I really didn’t. I used to teach songwriters, you know, ‘Your job is to get naked and get on a high wire without a net. That’s what you’ve gotta do. You have to put something of yourself at risk in the work that you do, for your work to be able to speak emotionally to other people.’

“A memoir, I must admit, it was a challenge; I had no idea how hard it was, it was really hard work. Even in the eleventh hour, I had to have beta readers, like friends of mine… I had to have a lawyer go through some of the stuff, the Triumph chapter and stuff, and I had a good friend of mine who had been a member of parliament who sort of understood about sticking your foot in your mouth. And I said, ‘Can you just read a few of these chapters for me and make sure that’, you know. There were certain things where I had my wife read it, because I didn’t wanna say something that she might go, ‘How dare you say that about us?’

“I think I’m a fairly good judge of what might hurt people and what might be not diplomatically correct or proper, so that I can say what I wanna say, but say it in a way that it doesn’t do damage to others. If there’s gonna be any damage, it’ll be to me. And that’s okay. I can take it.”

Rik had a dozen platinum LPs from ‘75 to ’88 as the lead singer/songwriter/guitarist with Triumph. Twenty more non-platinum solo indie projects followed over the years, ranging across genres. Six decades in the biz landed him in five Halls and two Walks of Fame, with a few ‘Best Guitarist’ awards in various categories along the way.

A published poet, his ‘Reinvention’ collection came out on ECW Press in 2021, with his memoir (Lay It On The Line – A Backstage Pass To Rock Star Adventure, Conflict And Triumph) coming in fall 2023.

Retired from touring, Rik still writes & records downloads exclusively for His latest (The Bonfire Sessions – 2020) included 18 solo acoustic / vocal tracks and six jazz guitar instrumentals. Rik was a Guitar Player magazine columnist for over a dozen years, taught on the Humber College Music faculty for a few decades, and is the Artistic Director Emeritus of the Songstudio Songwriting Workshop.

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