At the height of the arena rock era in the mid-1970s through the mid 1980s, the Canadian power trio Triumph was a well-oiled rock and roll machine, known for huge live productions and polished studio albums. Hailing from nearby Toronto, Buffalo was an annual stop on most of the group’s North American tours until the original lineup split in 1988.
Guitarist Rik Emmett, bass player Mike Levine and drummer Gil Moore produced a slew of radio-friendly rock songs that still permeate classic rock radio, including “Magic Power,” “Fight the Good Fight” and “Allied Forces.”
After years of sporadic activity, Triumph is on the cusp of what could be a big year for the band. The trio reunited for a three-song set at Metalworks studio last November. It was part of a fan event and will be included in an upcoming documentary on the history of the group.
Moore has managed the business side of Triumph, and still runs Metalworks Studio in Mississauga, Ont. The facility also includes Metalworks Institution, the educational extension of the famed recording studio.
“I like anybody that likes Triumph, so we will start there,” Moore said, at the outset of a recent phone interview.
Late last year Triumph reissued its 1989 compilation titled “Classics” as a two-album set on silver vinyl, so that was our starting point.
“It’s amazing how people have gravitated toward vinyl. I certainly understand it. You get a fatter sound on analog than on vinyl. It’s been interesting to see the resurgence, especially amongst young people," Moore said. "We have a school that teaches music production and music business that has a vinyl record library of over 10,000 records.”
Some of those records likely include early versions of albums whose master tapes were lost in the 2008 Universal fire that destroyed more than 100,000 masters of classic albums. Moore didn’t have to worry about Triumph’s master tapes.
“Triumph was really lucky; we were on Universal for a long time, so all of our masters were kept at Metalworks.”
Moore handled drumming and vocal duties for the band, and is known for his business acumen that helped Triumph become successful recording and touring artists and built Metalworks into a premier facility even after the band split up.
“My awareness of business started with my father and his guidance in certain areas, and I try and do the same thing and mentor young people and plant a seed, especially my kids. He told me you must look after things for yourself. When we started, I heard the horror stories about bands that went before us that had their managers take all their money.”
“I just tried to understand the music business. Bands are more business savvy today than they were back in the 1970’s. It was unusual back then for a band to be self-managed, but I learned from guys like Rush’s manager, the ones that were doing things right.”
Moore also had a big hand in the band’s elaborate stage production, which included state of the art pyrotechnics and laser lights.
“We had some great ideas from musicians in the area. I loved it even more than I did performing. When you love something it’s easy to learn.”
The original Triumph lineup has had only two full reunion shows since they split in 1988, one in Sweden and one in Oklahoma. Fans of the band may be able to experience a Triumph show soon after the documentary is released.
“What I am working on now, if I can pull it off, is a mixed reality tour for Triumph. If we pull it off it will be the first one in the world and we are looking at doing it in 2021.”
“I looked at some of the hologram tours and I wasn’t really impressed with them and wanted to make something better. Paul Dexter, our lighting director, and I have come up with something that is still a secret, but it’s far beyond holograms and has more potential.”
“I’m not publicizing it, but I am not keeping it a secret. Some people might think I am crazy, and I’ll be the first to admit it may not happen. But I have spent my whole career having people tell me I couldn’t do things and then I showed them it could be done.”
With a little magic power Gil Moore might just get the rock and roll machine up and running again.
Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.