TRIUMPH's RIK EMMETT Dismisses RUSH Comparisons: 'Musically, We Weren't Trying To Do The Kinds Of Things That They Were Doing'
November 24, 2023
In a new interview with Rock Show Critique, TRIUMPH guitarist/vocalist Rik Emmett was asked if he is planning to make any book-signing appearances to promote his recently released memoir, "Lay It On The Line - A Backstage Pass To Rock Star Adventure, Conflict And Triumph". He responded (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "There's nothing in the immediate future. There's one that's in Brampton, Ontario, Canada in April — April 9th, I think, is the date. And I'm gonna be interviewed there. I'm not like Geddy [Lee, RUSH bassist/vocalist] where I can book a 14-date tour and get somebody that's a celebrity, media person to interview me in every market. ECW Press [which published 'Lay It On The Line'], they don't punch at the kind of weight that HarperCollins [which published Geddy's memoir] does. But that's all right. I wouldn't wanna ever seem like I'm envious about RUSH. It's all good. It's funny how some people think of the bands in the same league, but we were never in the same league. RUSH was a band that was above the stratosphere, up there with your PINK FLOYDs and your LED ZEPPELINs."
He continued: "[We were three-piece bands] with lead singers that sang really high. And the guitar player was blonde in both bands. Those are fairly superficial and shallow kinds of similarities. Beyond that, the bands were pretty different. Musically, we weren't trying to do the kinds of things that they were doing. Maybe in our early stages when both bands were young, there were kinds of similarities there, because obviously they did take some inspiration from [LED] ZEPPELIN, and so did we, but once we'd sort of established our own identities, [we were very different]."
Rik previously talked about the TRIUMPH-RUSH comparisons earlier in the month in an interview with Greg Prato of Ultimate Guitar. At the time, he said: "It would be hard for people that were at a remove — which is to say, an American critic or people that were just taking the quick look at things — and go, 'Oh. Three-piece band from Toronto, Canada. RUSH is the one I'm familiar with. TRIUMPH is the one I'm not. TRIUMPH must be similar to the one I am familiar with.' That would have been an insubstantial kind of look at it — at any given point in time. Because the bands were not really that similar — except for the fact that there was a high male vocalist guy, they were both trios, and both from the same geographic location. Beyond that, the bands didn't really have a lot of similarities — in terms of the music that was being made and the albums and stylistically."
Emmett continued: "I've always said it and I'll say it again now — they had nice coattails. And there were nice things — TRIUMPH was able to get a second look by radio people because of the fact that RUSH had been there before, concert promoters, all the rest of that kind of stuff. So, they did make our life easier in some respects. And then on another level, they sort of entered into a stratosphere of your PINK FLOYDs and almost like a LED ZEPPELIN-ish kind of…they were huge. And they were international. And they would go on concert tours — even South America, they played soccer stadiums. And you'd go, 'Okay. They're on another level.' TRIUMPH was never a band on that level. It's not apples and oranges — this is kind of like a grape and a watermelon." [Laughs]"
More than three years ago, Emmett reflected on the passing of RUSH drummer Neil Peart and spoke about his personal relationship with his fellow legendary Canadian rockers in an interview with Meltdown of Detroit's WRIF radio station. He said: "I met Neil only on a couple of occasions. Neil was not the kind of man who liked to go to industry functions; he didn't do meet-and-greets; he didn't hang around after gigs. He was a very private kind of a guy, and I respected that — I admired that in him. Kinship-wise, Alex [Lifeson, RUSH guitarist] and I were always well suited to each other, I think. When TRIUMPH was just a bar band playing The Gasworks on Yonge Street in Toronto, Alex came down to the gig and had a couple of beers and introduced himself to me. We've done guitar workshops together. And, of course, he played on one of my records. I did a record for Mascot/Provogue a few years back — 2016, I think — and Alex played on a couple of tracks. He's a gentleman [and] he's a tremendous artist. If he had decided he wanted to be a painter, he would have been a great painter. If he'd have been a poet, he would have been a great poet. But he was a guy that picked up an electric guitar and eventually was in this band. And RUSH, we were always riding on their coattails. They were always a bigger thing than us, breaking other markets and playing all over the world. We owed a lot to them.
"I don't really know Geddy [Lee, RUSH bassist/vocalist] that well at all; I think I've only said hello to him once. He and I, we share something. He had a son that ended up playing baseball on a fairly high level, and my son also ended up playing NCAA Division I in the States on a scholarship. And I see Geddy at the ballgames — he's got great seats, so the centerfield camera shows him sitting in the second row. So we get to see Geddy, if you're in Canada, practically every night when they allow people into the stadiums. But I don't know him that well. Alex is kind of the guy who was my bud."
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.
Emmett was estranged, both personally and professionally, from the two other members of the legendary Canadian classic rock power trio for 18 years before they repaired their relationship.
"Lay It On The Line - A Backstage Pass To Rock Star Adventure, Conflict And Triumph" came out on October 10 via ECW Press.
Gil Moore (drums),Mike Levine (bass) 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.
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