When Triumph first started in the 1970s, many rock critics discarded them. Rolling Stone reviewers didn't think Triumph stood out enough from the other rock and heavy metal bands around at the time and called them a "faceless band."
Triumph caught a big break in the United States in 1978. The band filled in for Sammy Hagar at a radio station promotion gig in San Antonio, Texas and followed the show up with five more dates around the state. Triumph has remained popular in San Antonio ever since.
In 1984, Triumph released a concept album called Thunder Seven. The record came out on the then-new CD format, even though most people couldn't afford CD players at the time. The album's cover features a mechanized version of Leonardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man drawn by illustrator Dean Motter.
In late 1988, Triumph singer Rik Emmett
broke away from the band. It was a move that proved costly as Emmett only retained rights to one-ninth of the band's music and assets. Whenever Triumph reunited for one-off shows prior to 2008, Emmett was basically "hired" by the other two members to perform and did not re-acquire his rights to the group's material.
Triumph singer Rik Emmett is also an avid writer and teacher. When not playing music, he occasionally writes for Songwriter magazine. Emmett also teaches songwriting and music business at Humber College in Toronto, Ontario Canada.
Triumph singer Rik Emmett's real name is Richard. He goes by "Rik" and the correct spelling of his name used to be "Rick." When the band's first album came out, there was a production error and Emmett's first name in the album credits appeared as "Rik." Rather than recall the album or cause confusion with fans, the singer officially changed his name to "Rik."
One of the reasons Triumph was reluctant to get back together prior to 2008 was because of drummer Gil Moore's recording studio empire. Moore owns and operates Metalworks Studios in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, Ontario. The studio started as a facility exclusively used by Triumph in the early '80s but now hosts some of the world's biggest music acts. Guns 'N Roses, Aerosmith, Katy Perry, The Black Eyed Peas, and the Jonas Brothers are just a few of the big names that have recorded there over the years.
Triumph bassist Mike Levine is often seen as "the guy in the background," but he's actually contributed to the band's work as a songwriter, especially in the early days. Levine's trademarks onstage included smoking big cigars and wearing local teams NHL jerseys.
Along with Rush and Saga, Triumph was the big Canadian rock bands with progressive leanings. In a Songfacts interview
, Rik Emmett explained why there was an affinity for prog rock in the great white north: "Probably the influence of FM radio and the fact that prog bands toured Canada with some success (Yes, Gentle Giant, Genesis). Canada was always a breeding ground for singer-songwriters, where the song rules. But if you were a guy in a band in the early '70s, the whole Deep Purple-then-Zep-morphing-into-prog bands had hit hard in basements and garages everywhere. You wanted to play music that took itself very seriously. Float like a butterfly, rock like a piledriver."