Guitarist/vocalist Rik Emmett of the legendary Canadian power trio TRIUMPH spoke to The Metal Voice about the forthcoming first-ever feature documentary about the band's dramatic career.
Produced by Emmy and Peabody award-winning Banger Films, "Triumph: Lay It On The Line" is a Crave original documentary that's a celebratory, exhilarating thrill ride through the history of one of rock's most unsung acts. Slated for release in the coming months, 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.
Emmett said (see video below): "Banger, they're very good at what they do. And they've done so many [documentaries on other bands] — everybody from IRON MAIDEN, METALLICA and RUSH to… They've got one that's on Netflix right now; it's a ZZ TOP one. These guys are consummate pros, and they know what they're doing when they're telling a story. When somebody's digging around in your life… They come to my house and they do an interview, and then they come back a few months later and do another one, and then they come back another couple of weeks later and do another one, because they're going deep. And you're going, 'What are they gonna find? I'm a little bit concerned.'
"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 said that he has seen a "rough cut" of "Triumph: Lay It On The Line", which is produced by Banger Films in association with Revolver Films, Bell Media's Crave, Live Nation Productions and NBC Universal Canada.
"[Banger] did a really extraordinary thing," he said. "I hope I'm not giving too much away here. They flew in fans from all over the world. 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 last November in front of 300 "superfans" at MetalWorks studio in Mississauga (a suburb of Toronto), Ontario, Canada. Emmett, drummer Gil Moore and bassist Mike Levine 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.