By Vanessa Broadbent
The guys of Lion Bear Fox aren’t just musicians – they’re also storytellers. It only takes listening to one song to figure that out.
Christopher Arruda, Ryan McMahon and Cory Woodward have been performing together since 2012, but you wouldn’t know that just by listening to their music.
A mix of engaging lyrics coupled with intimate harmonies, the group seems more like one three-part force than a trio of individual musicians.
Their songs are primarily harmony-driven, with each member contributing vocally.
“It’s certainly a big focal point,” said Woodward. “Even when we go into the studio, we tend to build the songs around the voices and then take it from there.”
But the band didn’t always start out so close-knit. In fact, they didn’t even start out planning to be a band.
In 2012 McMahon invited Arruda and Woodward to join him on a tour to Manitoba, mainly for company.
It was on that tour the trio realized that finding compatible voices is a rarity, one you don’t let go of when you’ve found it.
“It was through that tour that the seedling of Lion Bear Fox had been planted and we were watering it with our voices and beautiful songs,” Woodward said.
The Vancouver-based group decided to join forces permanently and hasn’t looked back since.
In the five and a half years since their formation, Lion Bear Fox has released two albums – We’d Be Good Men and the self-titled Lion Bear Fox – toured extensively and even competed and were finalists in the Peak Performance Project.
In that time the group has also gone from performing small gigs to large shows.
“We started out primarily playing house concerts and now we’re playing large theatres of 500-plus people,” Woodward said. “If anything has changed, it’s the continual growth within our live shows and our confidence level.”
While the harmonies Lion Bear Fox are known for are just as present on their recordings as they are in their live performances, there’s an added dynamic to hearing them in person. Woodward credits this to performing and recording both being their own art forms, not easily compared.
“What you witness at one of our live shows is not going to be anything close to what you take home on an album,” he said. “It’s not so far off that it doesn’t make sense but they’re certainly two different animals forming.”
This tour the group is also performing with a drummer, which Woodward says is “breathing quite a bit of new life” into each member’s energy, as well as the band as a whole.
“It’s an ever-evolving dynamic,” he said. “We’re three individuals who have three strong musical tastes and I think the identity of Lion Bear Fox forever will be a continual evolution.”
This time around, the band’s tour includes a stop in Oliver – a first for the group. Woodward said they’re excited to share with the community the stories they’ve told the rest of the country.
“It’s the foundation of what we do, it’s sharing ourselves and stories of our lives,” he said. “We’re still those three same guys that were rocking out at house concerts but that element, that intimacy that was created there, still exists and it just keeps growing.”
Lion Bear Fox is performing in Oliver at Medici’s on Thursday, March 8 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets are $30.