Rush or Triumph?

Before we move to the substance of the piece, I have a question. Who do you think is the best Canadian rock band of all time? 

As much as Rush has contributed to the Canadian identity and put us on the map worldwide; I would have to say that I have always preferred Triumph.

There is no denying the fact that Rush was a big name and still is, as I usually ask my interviewee who their favourite Canadian band is/was.  Eight out of ten X’s it comes up Rush. You have to love great tunes like Tom Sawyer, Subdivisions, Closer to the Heart, etc,  and the skills of Alex, Geddy, and the late Neil Peart (RIP).

I have always loved Triumph for a few reasons ranging from the great guitar riffs from Rik Emmett, the great vocals from Gil Moore, and the bass playing and stage presence of Mike Levine who would wear the hockey jersey of the hosting cities team on stage as much as he can. In 2008 at a festival in Sweden…..yup you guessed it, Mike got a hold of one of my fav jerseys… the Swedish national team.

I would have to say that another great aspect of Triumph was their stage and light show; second to none in the day. Having said that, they could play in a dark room and still get the same energy out of their fans with just the great songs like Spellbound, Never Surrender, Lay It On the Line, Tears in the Rain, Midsummers Daydream etc.

Anyway, I am writing today as I was privileged to speak with one of Triumphs founding members; drummer/singer, Gil Moore recently. Click this link IMG_6256 (2) for a personal message to SSM and Wawa from Gil Moore. I remember when I was 15 years old seeing Triumph at the Memorial Gardens and the incredible sound and light show was spectacular. I believe that loud and hard-hitting show was responsible for the cracks in the concrete and the slanted seats that eventually gave way to the decision to demolish and rebuild the arena; now known as the GFL Memorial Gardens.

For personal and financial reasons in the bands’ history; they haven’t really performed together in decades, outside of some festival shows in 2008 and a few appearances here and there. If an announcement came forth about a Triumph reunion tour, I would be ecstatic. We can only wish at this point as there is nothing coming out of the camp regarding any such thing… BUT!, there is some big news coming out and that news is that Banger Films is doing it’s finishing touches on the rockumentary about the legendary band. As Gil said in his generous plug for me, it will be coming out hopefully by September and they are still throwing around a couple of names. Triumph: Rock & Roll Machine or Lay It on the Line. 

In relation to content, Gil says  that it will not only be vintage video and things pulled out of the archives, but “there is a lot of new stuff in there as well”

In November of 2019, 300 superfans from as far away as Brazil, assembled at Gil’s famous Metalworks studios for what they thought was going to be some Q & A’s and photos with the boys for the said documentary. Considering the efforts involved for the attendees to go to the event on their own dime and the fact that all proceeds from merch/memorabilia sales would go to the Unison Benevolent Fund which is nonprofit; Rik, Gil, and Mike floored the souls with a 3 song impromptu set which had the fans jump out of their seats and rush the stage when the curtain dropped. The fans had absolutely no idea that this would happen.

Anyway, as Gil said, you can check out on 180-gram silver vinyl, the 30th anniversary of their Classics album, until the rockumentary release.

An interesting fact before I forget is that I did not realize this but Triumph kind of got their big break in the longhorn state of Texas. Apparently back in the day a couple of radio DJ’s, in particular, Joe Anthony from KISS FM in San Antonio started playing their music.

Fast forward a bit; Sammy Hagar was set to headline a big show with the Runaways as the supporting act, and Yesterday and Today as the opener. Well, Sammy was asked at the last minute to open up for KISS at Madison Square Garden and I guess the opportunity was too big to let slip away and he bailed on the Texas show.

Triumph was then asked if they wanted to fill the spot. Well, the guys talked about it and after agreeing and playing the show, it just started to snowball with other cities in Texas and then other states,  Canada, and then finally worldwide success.

On the reunification of the bands’ friendship, it is quite the story according to guitarist Rik Emmett. “well every year, the guy that runs Canadian Music Week would come at us and ask us to come to (his) event…and every year I would say no, no, no. (Well) my younger brother got sick with cancer and went through that whole process of evaluating his life, and dumped it back on me by saying, you know you carry around a lot of baggage, and why don’t you try and do something about it. Out of respect for him and what he went through I thought, yeah I could find the courage to face those two goombahs again” (laughter). And that is how it started; quite a moving storey for sure.

In reference to a tour after the documentary gets released, I asked Gil that question and he responded this way.

” well, we are looking at doing a mixed reality tour…’s something we’re working on, it’s not a hologram tour; it’s something beyond that and it has never been done before. We are just in the developmental stages of that, but that’s the plan. 2021 is what we are targeting, or 2022.”

Well, it didn’t dawn on me to ask what a reality tour is exactly; but just the same, it sounds like great news for all of us Triumph fans and if in fact, this does happen (as there are always glitches and things that come up), it will be a huge success.

Thanks for reading and in the next instalment of Rock Talk, I will be speaking with Jeff Keith of Tesla where we will be discussing among other things, their new hit album Shock.



































Ernest Skinner

One comment

  1. Nice article, did not know about the documentary. I grew up in San Antonio, and as you pointed out KISS-FM was a huge Triumph fan – and Rush fan as well. They promoted a lot of new bands. I recently wrote an article about the book RUSH Wandering the Face of the Earth ( which talks about Lou Roney and Joe Anthony of KISS promoting the band. In my article I have a picture of my paper tix from back in the day including several from Triumph and Rush!