Rik Emmett: No More Pink Elephants.
Canadian rock legend Rik Emmett talks over his vast musical career - Triumph to his collected solo works and the new Airtime project.
Andrew from MelodicRock.com Rik.
A great pleasure to talk to you.
Well it's nice to talk to you too.
It's been too long. We did an email interview about many years ago or several years ago at least, but never a phone interview and I'm really pleased to touch base with you.
That's great, it's nice to talk to you too.
How are things? Where have I reached you, at home in Canada?
Yeah, I'm sitting in my studio and all is right with the world. The Toronto Maple Leaves hockey team has had a lovely victory this evening. Between interviews I was watching them play hockey and it takes me back to my childhood. When they win I feel good, when they lose I feel like something's not right.
Where about it Toronto or in the area do you live?
I live in Mississauga which is sort of a western bedroom community. It's a city in its own right.
Yes, I lived on Queen St. West in Toronto for about a year in '93.
Loved the place.
Yeah, Toronto is a fantastic city. I mean I've seen a lot of places and I'm always happy to come home. I do like my hometown. I'm a bit of a homebody kind of guy.
It's a great city. It's a big city without that big city presence or without the sort of intimidation isn't it?
Yeah, it's not bad that way. It's starting to get bad in terms of traffic. We're starting to have the same kinds of problems that every major metropolitan city faces in terms of traffic but it has a nice vibe to it. You sound like you're calling from Australia.
I've never had the opportunity to travel there and I've heard some fantastic wonderful things about that, so one day I hope to come and visit there.
Yeah, absolutely. I thought we had you down to do some guitar clinics at one stage or a couple of proposed solo tours.
You know the thing that happened about, I guess maybe three years ago now or something, and Rick Wharton had set something up, and a guy had even sent a deposit to start booking the air fares, and then he just kind of disappeared. I don't know what happened. It was gonna be a solo thing and come down and do some guitar clinics, play some festivals and then the guy just literally sort of disappeared off the face of the earth.
Yeah, it happens. It's the industry for it isn't it?
Yeah, I guess. (laughter)
Well, you've got Airtime out, which is great. You've always been making music all the while but I suppose this goes back to your core audience doesn't it?
I guess if there's still a core audience around that acts like a core audience.(laughing) I don't know if that's necessary true after all these years. Certainly I know from the reaction to the record over the last little while that there were a lot of fans that were anxious that I would return to hard rock at some point and make a record that touched on a lot of the things that Triumph had done in its day and traveled around in that kind of ballpark and did those kinds of things.
So it's been fun and it certainly seems as if there's a lot more interest in this record than say in some of the smooth jazz or classical guitar things that I've done. I guess it's a much bigger audience again and so I realized oh yeah, Ok, there is something to be said for strapping your guitar on and turning your amp up to 11. It makes people notice it a little more.
What a position to be in to be able to have such a lengthy career and just make records whenever you feel like it basically.
It is a privilege. In some ways it's liberating and in other ways it's weird to have expectations placed upon you. I mean, I'm not complaining but it kind of strange that the way our world is in terms of stylistic kind of demographic shoeboxing, you know. You have to live in this pigeonhole. How dare you come out of that pigeonhole, you're not supposed to do that? When rock and roll sort of started to spread its wings and really take off during the 60s and 70s it did seem to have more of an eclectic kind of nature to it and a more embracing kind of progressive nature. Then slowly but surely the world became subdivided up into different camps. I mean it's not like the different camps didn't already exist but we live in an age now of a kind of niched demographic kind of marketing and it makes it a little hard to be an eclectic kind of person or artist or musician. But as you say, I am kind of lucky that I am the guy that used to be the guy so you'll indulge me a little bit and that's OK so now I'll indulge you back, so hear's some of the old stuff and here's some stuff that's in the vein of the old stuff. Maybe I'm twisting a little bit to my own ends, but don't worry I'm not gonna make it too uncomfortable for you. So there is a relationship that exists with your audience and with your past and with expectations place upon you so you cope with those and deal with them. It's part of the ongoing chemistry in the whole affair.
Airtime definitely touches on some of the old Triumph sound but you're also pushing the envelope forward a little bit which is interesting to hear.
I felt that we broke ground without making it too uncomfortable for fans that would be melodic rock and hard rock kinds of fans, and maybe even heavy metalish kinds of fans. But by the same token I think we sort of set ourselves up so that maybe we can move a little bit further afield next time. There's a tiny bit of progressive nature in what was going on on the Liberty Manifesto record so I'm thinking next time Airtime will be able to take a few more chances and have some adventures and then maybe people will kind of be a little bit more open minded about it.
I'm very happy that you're talking about next time. This one took a little while to get together. Was it the length of time recording the album or actually shopping a deal, because you didn't rush it did you?
No there were a whole bunch of things that played into it. I mean when we first started, when Mike and I first got together he was just after me to play some guitar on some things he was doing, different sort of recording projects that he had going in his studio where he was sort of functioning as a producer.
Then it was, well maybe we should write a few things together, and then I think Shotten had an agenda all along but he was very kind of subtle and moved at a slow pace pushing me along. I was a little reluctant and I'll admit it and I didn't necessarily feel any giant need to be making a rock record but he kept insisting that this would be a great thing, and it would be lots of fun and I should embrace this, and we'll start writing and it'll turn into something and then it was 'hey Rik you should sing these things' and I'm like 'oh no, you should sing them' then 'oh, no, no Rik you should sing it, people have been waiting to hear you sing rock for a long time'. So then I sort of got into the spirit of it and said 'I think I'll play bass guitar' so I tried a couple and I said 'Gee this is kinda fun do you mind if I try and play everything?'.
Of course it takes a lot more time to do that. You could get a much more competent player to play it in a shorter period of time, but you know I was now kinda getting into this whole homegrown two of us against the world kind of approach. But we went through a lot of stuff. Mike went through a divorce and the song Moving Day is about that. I wrote the lyrics about the fact that he was going through this very heavy time period where he's got two boys and it was rough.
He was having to adjust to becoming a single dad and dealing with that and the kids are away with their mom 3 or 4 days a week and he's coping with that. Then his brother committed suicide and that was a heavy duty thing that knocked a whole bunch of time out of the middle. Then my brother was diagnosed with liver cancer and he passed away back in September. So there was a lot of stuff that came up that was personal stuff and then there were the regular kinds of things that you mentioned like shopping the record. He started down the road a couple of times with a few different labels as we chatted and negotiated sending emails back and forth.
It's a different world now. My expectations of what constitutes a deal and even Mike's from his Von Groove days. You know people are not necessarily as willing to bank on the future and make as much of an advance as they used to and all of those kinds of things. So there was an education process that we had to go through, or I guess a re-education process about the state of the business.
Yeah, it's not real good is it?
No, no it's not healthy. And so, those things all took their time and the other thing was of course that the biggest concern for Mike and I at the bottom of everything was simply that the record be really good. We wanted to make it sound good and we wanted it to be mixed good so we had Ricky Anderson help us a lot. He's a guy, because Mike and I had done so much over-dubbing, lots of overdubs and lots of guitar harmony parts so the record ended up being very thick and we had lots of production stuff going on. So we needed somebody who had a lot of expertise in handling upwards of 60 or 65 tracks for a song.
Yeah, so Anderson was very good at that and he helped us through that stage. Then I was going through this stuff where I was sort of having all of this reunion stuff happen with the Triumph guys. So that was knocking a hole in things. Then Gil was saying you've gotta come into the Metalworks and you gotta master here and you gotta use Nick Blagona so that added a little chunk of time onto the back end of it. That was something that just helped get the quality of what we were after to naturally I took advantage of that.
Oh you've got a great sound, absolutely.
Well thanks. Anyway, so that's the long answer. It was a kind of convoluted story and it did take a long time to get it done.
But now you've got the structure in place you can hopefully do it quicker next time.
Yeah and in fact, that's exactly, we've been kind of talking around it and I've been doing all these interviews and stuff and it's the logical question that everybody asks. Yeah, I do think we should be able to and hopefully we won't have all the sorrow and grief and horrible, terrible stuff that happened. I hope my wife won't divorce me. (laughter)
You've been together a long time.
Yeah, she's put up with a lot.
You remind me of, you know this gentleman very well, a very good friend of mine, Jim Peterik. Who is an absolute, I mean I love the man, he's just fabulous, but you know he's in the same boat. He's in this crazy industry but he's managed to keep a sane sort of family life on the side.
Yeah I think it's a question of, and like you say I know Jim very well, in fact's he's the guy who gave me the song title idea for the song Rise so he's got a little piece of that on the album.
Oh good, I forgot the writing credits.
Oh yeah, Rise was like, I'd sent him a couple of the tracks and he'd sent back some ideas and stuff, and I wasn't knocked out with the direction he was going. But he had a line in the lyrics for the song that became Rise about a phoenix rising from the ashes and it tied so beautifully to some of the subtext that existed in the record. Like Liberty is a song about post 9/11 and what do you do when you're trying to rebuild your whole concept of freedom and liberty and those kinds of things.
Of course there was also the subtext of me being the guy that used to be in Triumph and here I am returning to rock, so what am I trying to do rebuilding the whole phoenix from the ashes kind of thing. So that really hit home with me, that that was a really nice idea for a lyric. So I sort of stole that line and it became part of the chorus of the song called Rise and I thought it would be unconscionable of me if I didn't at least give Jim a piece of the tune because he'd kind of been the inspiration.
Anyway, I've gone and played in Chicago and played on some of his shows and things and yeah, he's a great guy. I think that Jim lives for the music. I doesn't live for anything else but how great the song can be and how great the music can be. And because he's a guy like that he's got a lot of integrity and personal humility because he know the music is this sort of infinite challenge and he's in love with that.
So I think when he found a girl and build a life with and have kids with and stuff that he knew he had something good and meaningful and true and right because he's a guy who understands that stuff. There're lots of guys in rock and roll who don't really have a grip on that. Their grip is more on the idea of wanting to be a star and wanting to have fame and fortune and all of that stuff. There's nothing wrong with that either. I'm not putting it down but it ends of being kind of a shallower kind of existence and those people tend to crash into one thing and burn, then crash into something else and burn, and crash into something else and burn
I see it, absolutely. You've got the European deal for this record with Escape, how is it coming out in Canada or the US?
We did that on our own. It's not like we didn't have some offers but we also made a deal in Japan with Marquee so it's out in Asia as well. And we did talk, again this goes back to your question about the length of time, there was a certain period of time when we had people saying, 'no wait don't got yet, we've got an offer, we want to make an offer, we really like you' so we say OK we'll wait, we'll wait and we waited.
Then when the offers came when I measured them against what I knew I could do off my own site in the first few months because I'd been putting out my own little records and I knew this one would do at least as well as one of my own little records. So then I realized, well the state of the business is so awful and so terrible that these guys can't do any better than I can do. They can't help me so I might as well just do it myself.
So that's what we've done. I put it on RikEmmett.com for sale through Maple Music and we've done great the first few weeks. We're moving some product and we're doing fine and the big thing of course is that I'm not indebted to anybody else. I own my own masters and we own our own publishing so it's ours free and clear. I mean, we've already made a license deal to have one of the songs in a movie, a feature film.
That's great. In Triumph you sort of came up or evolved through the whole traditional label set-up dealing with the same label for years but as a solo artist you soon diversified. You were one of the first people out there really using the internet to its full advantage.
I know there's been some stuff written about me and media things that have said that and it's nice to read that people sort of want to give me that credit but I don't necessarily see myself as to much of a pioneer because it wasn't like I couldn't see other people and get ideas from them and started saying 'ooh that looks like a good idea, why don't I try that?' I do think that for a guy in my position I might have been one of the first guys to say I don't think the old system works and I'm willing to jump ship right away and try something new because I don't want to be hanging around on what looks to me like a sinking ship. In a sense that goes right back into 1988 with Triumph.
I really did get a feeling that if it stayed the way it was, it was doomed. It was unhappy from the inside out, and it seemed to be getting unhappy from the outside in. The world was changing and grunge was starting to happen and the face of radio was changing and so much was going through a huge evolution.
Then of course the internet came along and that really started to change things. It's not like I couldn't look and see, say like the idea of doing network shows coming off my own website. That came from Patrick Moraz, the guy who'd been the keyboard player in Yes. I'd seen him essentially booking them so his brother was actually running a business off of Patrick's site. So I went 'well that's a clever idea why wouldn't I do that?' I could look at Ani DiFranco who had done an incredible job of setting up her own label and appealing to a certain small demographic and building her own independence. Loreena McKennitt had done it. She was a Canadian who was a Celtic harpist. A very small kind of humble beginnings almost like a busker in a way in playing small festivals and things. She built it into a huge kind of international thing pretty much on her own as an independent. So it's not like I couldn't look around and go hey there're other people doing this.
It's just a question I think of having the courage of your own convictions. You have to say 'look, I'm willing to put my money where my mouth is, I'll pay to make a record, I'll pay to manufacture it, I'll pay to try and market it and little bit and have my own website to do this'. Part of the giant deceit and conceit of the record business was that all of the pre-production, production, manufacturing, and marketing of a record, record companies could turn around and say 'well geez, I'm sorry artist, I know we sold a million records and we made 10 million bucks, but we don't owe you any royalties because it was just way too expensive to try and do this'.
Well in truth, over time it became clear there was a lot of monkey business going on with the way they did their accounting. They got to be the manufacturer, the banker, the accountant, you know, they got to be everything. When the scales started to fall from people's eyes they realized, hey, wait a sec. At the same time the digital revolution was occurring and it was getting cheaper and cheaper to make records all the time and now anybody with a laptop and a microphone can be a recording artist. It hasn't necessarily made things better in the sense that we've got so much better quality music out there. (laughter) There's just so much more music out there and a lot of it is pretty awful. Now it's hard to get heard through just the fact that there's so much competition and so much noise. It becomes more a question of marketing than a question of talent and ability. So who's gonna be a patron of this? Who's gonna help artists go through the learning phase of becoming a good artist, becoming a good writer, becoming a great recording artist by being able to spend a lot of time in the recording studio learning? These things are expensive propositions and there aren't any record companies anymore to do it. We've got a lot of people teaching themselves. I don't know if it's necessarily gonna result in a lot of great recording artists that the world gets to find and recognize, but let's hope it happens.
Yeah, I hope so too, but for an artist to have the longevity of Triumph or Led Zeppelin or any other band like that it seems a fair long shot doesn't it?
Again I think it's probably a numbers game. If you look back in the past and try and count how many bands actually got the opportunity to make their second album you would probably find that there weren't that many. There were a lot of acts that would make a record and they'd be dropped. You know, one hit wonders that came and went. The business constantly fed itself on that part of the paradigm too. It's not like it didn't exist. There were less bands in the 60s and 70s. There was less radio, there was less play listing, it was a narrower, smaller kind of a world.
Now it's widened out and there are so many demographic slices but now it's just as hard to break through to the maid stream of any one of those demographic slices and it's ultra-uber-competitive. Certainly the whole kind of paradigm has changed and yet the odds probably aren't much different. I'd venture to say that there are probably 10,000 bands that started today and another 10,000 that broke up. You know, because they make records and they tried to do it independently and spent all of their own money and all of their Uncle Louie's money and all of their Aunt Maybelle's money. Now that's it. Their patronage has run out and their own bank account is empty and they go yeah, we'll break up this band and we'll go see if we can't get something else off the ground.
Yeah, absolutely, I mentioned Led Zeppelin a moment ago and thinking of that, they say never say never on things. Does the induction of Triumph into the Hall of Fame last year help freeze hell over for you guys?
I think it's safe to say that hell has sort of frozen over in the sense that I never thought I'd ever talk to them again in my lifetime. It was eighteen years that I hadn't.
Was it that long really? Well, I suppose it is, yeah, wow.
Yeah, like it had ended very unhappy. So it had been a long time. Actually my brother getting sick and me going through the process of sitting with him and talking with him, I phone him every night and we'd have conversations on the phone. I mean, he was in a life and death kind of circumstance, so when you have those kinds of conversations with people they tend to get right down to the important stuff in a hurry. He would say to me when the invitation came, and it's not like those hadn't come along from time to time over the course of the years, but I'd always rejected them.
But when this one came along I said, 'well what do you think?' and my brother said 'well look, opportunity comes and knocks every now ant then, and life is short'. That was never a more poignant statement than when it came from him under those circumstances. And he said 'you've been carrying around a lot of negative baggage for a long time and this is an opportunity for you to put it behind you and move on and try and find something better. Move on to a better circumstance. You should try and take advantage of those opportunities because they don't come along all the time'.
So on my brother's insistence that was really why I decided to try and reconcile with Gil and Mike.
It was awkward. It was not easy at first. As I've said in many interviews since, there was more than one pink elephant in that room where we were sitting around having coffee. I think we were all determined to try and ignore them as much as we possibly could, and I even said to them 'Guys this will never work of we revisit any of the negative stuff, if we try to talk about it again, if we try to rationalize or justify positions that we took that'll never work. The only way this is gonna work is if we just move ahead from here and then if we do revisit the past we only do it to wax nostalgic about good things and talk about how much fun this was or how crazy this was'.
Then it didn't take us that long to get to the point where we could share stories where we were laughing about things that happened and anecdotes.
Because it had been a long history and it had been a good one. It had a lot of success and it had good things to be able to be positive and proud about. So once we got there, that made it easy to go to the actual award ceremony itself and then nothing but good vibes from that. Geez when you actually get into talking to media again and then we were in a room with old radio dogs and record company guys and you would have figured if we could put all of the heard and soul of all these people together we might be able to build one good one.(laughter)
These are music business guys after all. They're cynical and these guys are 'Integrity, what, I've never even heard of that word.' (laughter) But it was quite, it was something, really something to see all of them kind of giving a heartfelt standing ovation and some tears in some eyes and stuff. And I felt, geez, I never even realized that at this level with guys like this there was that much kind of respect and affection. Then of course you start doing media and you realize wow, even the media and then of course fans. They go, oh God, when are you gonna do it again and then the flood gates are open and here it comes. So we have sat down and talked about the possibility and the potential of what might happen in the future and there are some more of these kinds of industry event things that will arise in the future. It looks like, but I'm not at liberty to talk about them right now but I think some other things are gonna happen.
And then there are offers that are coming, and do we maybe want to play a one off here, do we want to do a couple over here, do we want to do a giant tour? Then of course because of Led Zeppelin and the Police and Van Halen and all these others who have had such huge interest, it seems like sort of a natural spin-off and people get interested in the possibility of a Triumph thing.
But Mike and Gil haven't played in such a long time and when we sat down to talk that was kind of a central issue. There's no point in us doing it unless when we do it, it resonates with energy and quality that existed when we first started and tried it as young guys. And we're not young guys anymore. So for Gil, at this age and stage of his life, he's got a young family that he's just, you know, second marriage, second wife and the kids are still young. You're not gonna want to go off on the road for a long time.
Plus he started this huge sound and light business that's a multi-million dollar thing and he's devoting all of his time and energy to it. Then he's got the studio still running and he's got a school in conjunction with that that requires a lot of time and energy. So he said look, I know these offers are coming in an people are talking about Memorial Day of this year, 2008, and I couldn't really even look at this until maybe Memorial Day of 2009 to give myself time to get back in drumming shape again. He hasn't played drums for almost a decade and a half or something like that. So that's the way that got left. We said ok, fine, we'll revisit it again on a time schedule where we might work up to May of 2009. (laughter)
Yeah, it was cool, and it was very, no pressure you know? No body was pressuring anybody else it was all just kinda like we don't have to do this, there's no need to do it. We would never want to do it just for the money but of course there'd be no point in doing it of there was none. And Triumph was a band that was always known for sort of large scale productions and very high quality kind of productions. That also became part of the conversation about geez, we're not just gonna try to throw together a few roadies and pack it all in the back of a van and show up and be the opening act for somebody. That's not gonna happen. So anyhow, that's the way it all got left.
Well, I'll look forward to the next part of that. Were you aware that the entire catalog's about to be re-released in Japan again?
I just did an interview with someone else that mentioned it. I was talking to Khalil who's the Escape Music guy and he was telling me, and he said that he knows who's doing there in Japan and he's a huge collector and it's coming out and he asked of I'd like to get it? And I went, yeah sure, but the truth of the situation, and I don't mean this in any negative way at all, but Triumph is like literally, none of my business.
I don't have anything to do with it. I got bought out of it and I don't participate in it, so when those things happen they're decisions that are made by Mike and Gil and they don't have anything to do with me. So here I am doing a round of promotion for the new Airtime thing and naturally people want to talk about Triumph but I'm not really out here in the market place again trying to promote Triumph. That'll be their job when these things happen if in fact they take much interest in it, but they seem to be able to come up with a new DVD or something every now and then. I know that when I'm signing autographs after gigs and things I get new stuff put in front of me and I go 'What the heck is this?'
That must be a funny feeling.
It is kind of strange. But I mean, I'm in show business. If I'm gonna let strange things throw me
you are in the wrong business.
(laughter) Yeah because something strange comes along about every five minutes.
Absolutely, look, well I just said the word myself, Absolutely, probably one of my top 20 of records of all time.
A wonderful, wonderful record that I've spent many years listening to inside and out.
Well, I was proud of that record. It was the first big step after leaving Triumph and there were so things that I was trying to do to break out of the mold of being perceived just as a rock guy. There were some ballads and it was more of a singer/songwriter type record in some ways than your average rock band kind of record. It's funny, I remember when it came out how there were, because I was the guy who had left Triumph, there were some people in the rock community who didn't want that record to succeed. There was some jealousy and things here in the Canadian market that I had to put up with that I was the guy who betrayed the whole Triumph thing so, you know, screw me.
So there was some of that, and then there were changes that were happening at the time where rock radio wasn't really like it had been. There was the advent of the whole Seattle grunge thing starting to happen in a big way. That transition was occurring so anything that had that melodic kind of quality to it or classic rock kind of quality was losing it preeminence in the rock market. There was that big conversion occurring. So you know, whatever, I still think like, whenever I do acoustic shows there are a lot of songs off that album that I can just sit with an acoustic guitar and those tunes work fine.
I love the record. I really do. Stuff like Middle Ground meant a lot to me and still does.
That was the first song I wrote after I left Triumph. I remember playing it for an A&R man, and I don't remember if it was a demo or I just played it acoustically, and the guy was just totally unimpressed. He described it as a pronoun song. He goes, that's one of those pronoun songs. You're talking about yourself, me, this I, he, she, we and you. I go 'Really, OK, thanks a lot. Then I said, 'Do you think I could get a release from your record company so I'd be free to go and find something else?' And the guy said yeah, I think I could talk the record company people into that. I said great thanks pal.
And he's probably flipping burgers at this point.
Ah who knows, but that's the whole thing about it. The music business is a very strange, itinerant one. Over time the only way I got any widespread respect was just because I'd survived. That's really what it boils down to. If you can hang around long enough then people will go well geez there must be something good about it because so many others have crashed and burned or come and gone. I've done everything I can to try and promote them or make them successful but for some reason they didn't survive so this guy must have something. I don't like it and I don't know what it is but I'll give him his dues. Then you see that and in the end it kinda makes you laugh, but it is a very strange, itinerant kind of world. You kind of just go OK, I'll just keep kinda rolling along and take the punches when I get them and ride the waves when I can catch one.
Well you kept making records through the years do you have a favorite. I mean you've got Spiral Notebook, Swing Shift, you've got blues, you've got jazz.
I think what happens, I mean this is a relatively stock question and my relatively stock answer for it is, my favorite record is always the next one. My favorite song is always the next one. I'm an artist so that's the way I think. That's the way I feel. That's the way my DNA is constructed, you know? I don't really go back and listen to my old records much at all. I move forward and into new work, which is what fascinates me. I'm not fascinated with my own history. The more I kind of navel gaze on that basis the more my stomach starts to turn.
The less momentum you get?
Well that's part of it for sure. That's not to say that I don't respect and honor the past. I know that for my fans, they're the soundtrack to their lives that they find to be incredibly compelling and they want their own lives to have a substantial kind of meaning so they want me to have continuity with those songs. I understand that and I respect that. So this is kind of what happens with past records. Inevitably you get up on stage and you try different things and different times. There's a few song that kind of stick with you and they're great live so you keep playing them. And there are some songs that get air play so they're gonna stick with you because there are certain audiences in certain markets that have to hear them.
If I go to St. Louis by God I'd better play Hold On because it was a top 5 song there on both AM and FM radio so you go geez, you can't go to St Louis and not play that song, everybody expects to hear it. So when I go back into the past there're certain parts of the Allied Forces album from Triumph that are really good. I think the band hit its stride and did a lot of good things on that particular album. But we'd done some good things on the Just a Game album too.
So there're a few songs here and a few songs there then when I move up into my own solo career I go, yeah well you know, say off the Absolutely album. I hadn't heard Stand and Deliver in a long time and somebody played it on the radio when I was doing an interview one time and I went 'man I haven't heard that in a long time' and I thought that's got some pretty good stuff on it, that was a pretty interesting track. So I know there're moments. I thought the Ipso Facto album had some good things on it, you mentioned Spiral Notebook, I felt that was a record where I made big strides as a singer/songwriter.
That was the real departure, when I heard that record. I thought yeah, there's a change in direction here.
Yeah and a lot of people went, ooh God he got really soft. What happened to the rock guy? That had already happened for Ipso Facto, but then the record company said we can't put this record out. You have to go back in the studio and make some hard rock songs. We need some hard rock on this record. Then I'd gone back in and I'd done Straight Up and Band On, Do Me Good, Rainbow Man, so there'd been about 4 or 5 rock tracks that I'd done that got pasted into that record.
Interesting, yeah it kinda sounds like two different records.
Yeah I think it was three different records actually, because there was some jazz finger style stuff too like Woke up This Morning, and Transition, Calling St Cecilia, on there where you can see Spiral Notebook coming. You can hear it. You can smell it.
Yeah, Ipso Facto was the crossroads.
It kinda was. I've almost gotta have a soft spot in my heart for the Ten Invitations CD because that was the one finger style classical that I dreamed about even when I was in Triumph. For years and years I dreamed about doing a classical guitar record with nothing but finger style guitar pieces and that was what Invitations was. And that was the one that launched my own little label, my independence.
It was the start.
Then Swing Shift had some. Live I still play two or three things from Swing Shift almost every kind of gig that I do other than a classic rock on. Even then I'll throw in, like we did a classic rock one last week and I played Libre Animado off of Handwork and we did a band version of Three Clouds which gives everybody a chance to just blow their brains out. Like a sneak that stuff into the set now and I'll even tell the audience 'Look I've indulged you with Fight the Good Fight and Magic Power now you're gonna have to give me five minutes and I'm gonna do some of my own. I have been making records all these years folks'.
Anything you'd like to close with Rik?
Not really. I appreciate the fact that we've had a lot of support from you on your website. That's been a great thing.
Thank you, it's been a pleasure. I'm a long time fan.
I know that the record company guy tells me that it's important to have support of guys like you so I appreciate it and it was nice to chat with you.
Yeah you too Rik, it's been a great pleasure. Like I said, I came in on Thunder Seven to be a Triumph fan and went backwards from there and I've always traveled forward with you. It's great to talk things over.
Well, thank you very much.
Take care now.
Within the interview, Rik gave mention to an offer on the table - well, as we now know that was for the Sweden Rock Festival Triumph reunion show. I updated this interview by getting back to Rik and asking him about this news:
How did the proposal of Sweden Rock come to you guys and why did this in particular appeal to you to do?
The Sweden offer came through an agent. It appealed to us because it was the first substantial offer, and it obviously came from a true fan, as well as a promoter with a track record, and we'd never been to Sweden, so it satisfied a sense of adventure and experiment.
How will you prepare for this show and it sounds like there could be a few more on North American soil this year?
We'll prep with a lot of rehearsal - the other fellows will really need it, to get back into playing shape. Whether or not there will be a few more anywhere remains to be seen. As far as I know, there aren't other firm offers on the table as of this writing: at least, no one has brought them to my attention. My attitude is - let's wait and see what develops. Let's have a lot of rehearsals under our belt before we start looking to far down the road. Maybe we should do one concert, and see how it goes, before we commit to booking months & months ahead.