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TROYKA interview with Robert Edwards


Thanks for taking your time to answer a few questions regarding your band. First I would like to ask you where did you grew up and what can you tell me about some of the early influences?

Early ORTEGAS in Edmonton late 50s or very early 60 ) Robert Edwards, Ron Lukawitski kneeling. Pat K.drums, Bob M. and Ron K.

Born - Edmonton Alberta and stayed there until 1966. We left as the band "The Royal Family" to play Expo 67 in Montreal. While in Edmonton, my music influences were: Wes Dakus and the Rebels, Barry Allen, (the Ventures, Fireballs who we eventually opened years later) and of course the Rolling Stones, Beatles and most rock groups of that time. My best supporters were my mother and all my music teachers such as Clarence Ploof, Garth Worthington. Later it would be Dr. Richards who managed TROYKA.

Robert’s  first REAL guitar and amp a really long time ago. "Thanks mom and Clarence Ploof's Music Store, Edmonton."

TROYKA was formed in Montreal. How did you guys came together and what do you remember from some of the early "basement" jamming?

We went to play Expo 67 - The Garden of Stars as a four piece 'The Royal Family'. The drummer, Larry Hall left just we were to play, so we hired someone else. We then went to New york as a trio... spent time recording with Teddy Randazzo then....left N.Y and became TROYKA. Michael Richard switched from guitar to play drums so jamming was necessary to tighten up as band and develop songs. I do remember long sessions and because of the band owning a studio... First 2 inch 8 track in Edmonton. We were able to record our jams. This way we could listen to find if any keepable ideas had happened.

It's really interesting you decided to include flavour of music from your ancestral past…

We are all from some sort of Slavic background. Some of our names were changed early for personal reasons. I'm have a gypsy ancestral past. The reason for our passion of this type of music is because it is in our blood. Black boots, fur hats, wodka, loud music and dancing ha! Perfect.

Were you in any other bands before TROYKA? Any releases perhaps?

Before TROYKA was 'The Royal Family' who recorded two 45s on Apex.1965-66 "Don't You Even Want to Know" and "I Told a Lie" did quite well on the Edmonton radio charts.  

What was the scene in Montreal?

Amazing compared to Edmonton. The american bands were coming to either play Expo or just to be there. We saw Jefferson Airplane - free on the streets, Frank Zappa's Mother of  Invention, and blues artists that were "the real deal". Even the local bands were ahead in style, gear and musical form. We listened and adapted what we could. It was great! 

In 1970 you got signed up with Cotillion and released an LP, which is really an amazing mix of hard rock with some prog touches. I would like to know in what studio did you record it and what are some of the strongest memories from recording and producing your LP?

We recorded the TROYKA tracks at our studio Round Sound in Edmonton. When Michael Richards got the band a contract from Cotillion they flew out Gene Paul (Les Paul's son) to engineer and Shal Kagan (Lou Reed, Velvet Underground, Andy Warhol) to produce and take the LP photos.

My memories are blurred because so much was happening and it didn't matter who these people were, we just wanted to play ha! We treated the recording like a job..keep playing, everyday until we were satisfied.

How many copies were made and what can you tell me about the cover artwork?

Don't know how many copies were made then, but if one surfs the net there are lots of US and overseas sites selling our record or CD. As mentioned earlier. Shel Kagan took the photos so as simple as the cover looks, it is recognizable. 

I know this is a very hard question, but since I ask this most bands I will do the same with you. Please comment each piece from your LP.

A1          Introduction   
A slavic classical guitar piece that I wrote. It has four parts of a reocurring theme that builds each time. End of first side, intro to second side...then end of side two.
A2          Natural   
Michael Richards brought this idea to the table, however, the band always worked out their parts. This song is a "tongue in cheek" with the lyrics but the music is quite aggressive and I still like the guitar parts.                        

A3          Early Morning
A light composition focusing on the mood of a "Early Morning". This song was used by a radio station for awhile as their "wake up" call.
A4          Life's OK     
A jam that was re-mixed and effects added by New York production crew. I still have the dry mono tapes and prefer the way it was meant to be...WOW!     

A5          Burning of the Witch  
Again Michael Richards had the idea and words, then the band jammed around to finalize the arrangement of the instruments for the song. 
A6          Ruba-Dub-Dub Troyka in A-Tub       
A song that wasn't to be taken serious with the lyrics but still..the instruments' arrangement was great at the time..     
A7          Troyka Lament           
We talked about these song sections in A1.

B1           Troyka Solo       
See above.
B2           Rolling Down the Back Road
Maybe influenced by Canned Heat ha! But much heavier...this song was recorded in one take when the Cotillion people...Gene Paul & Shel Kagan were in our studio. They asked us to play, maybe thinking that we couldn't so...we jammed and it was put on the LP Ha!
B3           Berry Picking  
Every year picking berries (Saskatoons, blueberries, chokecherries you name it) is a big thing and necessary for food on the prairies for farmers so...that's what our families did, but you can decide what meaning the lyrics come across to you ha! 
B4           Dear Margaret (Malagosia) 
I wrote this song for my future wife Margaret. It sounds like I was influenced by Mason Williams' "Classical Gas".  
B5           Go East Young Man/Beautiful Eyes     
Another two jams that were "married". Maybe under the influences of mind changing products (Cheap wine and ?? ha ).
B6           Troyka Finale
Please see A1.

Is there any particular concept behind the album?

The songs were arranged so that it reflects the ups and downs of relationships, and recorded so that we could perform it live in concert as a trio. The idea of loud-harsh-cold and northern slavic music really appealed to us. TROYKA..a sled pulled by three horses was/is a great image for a rock trio. And because TROYKA's music is hard to lives on. 

How about shows? Where all did you play and with who all did you share the stage, any particular moments you would like to share?

As "The Royal Family" we performed at the Banff Sch. of Fine Arts, the Calgary Stampede - 40 000 people, prestigious Alberta Jubilee Auditotium in Edmonton. Expo 67 at the Garden of Stars and worked with Teddy Randazzo in New York.

As "TROYKA" we opened for Canned Heat, The Byrds, Rare Earth, Blue Cheer and Mountain. We also toured with Savoy Brown and Family at major Eastern colleges. TROYKA was also one of the first bands to play Fillmore East. 

Why the name Troyka and what happened after the band disbanded?

As mentioned earlier TROYKA refers to a sled pulled by three horses, so the name fits a power rock trio...

We were on and off the road from 1966 to 1970. I needed a break and was having relationship problems with my future wife at the time. No one suggested a "time out" so I quit. We finished opening for Blue Cheer in Detroit and as soon as I got into Canada to open for Mountain at the Electric Circus I found a replacement, Bob Styrna. I left saying no to playing the "Festival Express" Ha! With the new guitarist, the band recorded another album that wasn't released and soon desolved. We went our ways and were involved in various music endeavours. But around 1998 ish I hooked up with Ron Lukawitski Troyka's  bass player because of all the internet interest in the band. We then started on the project of promoting our music. We contacted Michael Richards and re-grouped thus TROYKA lives ha!

We have re-issues of our musicas LPs & CDs and then in 2011 TROYKA signed a deal with Rhino Records. There has been great reviews and stories in major publications such as Ugly Things, Record Collector and Endless Trip. We also have recorded new material and played a few major events.
Life is good.

Thank you for taking an interest in TROYKA.

Robert Edwards  

Interview made by Klemen Breznikar / 2012
© Copyright 2012

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