There is strength in numbers. Just ask B.C. trio Lion Bear Fox, a group that manages to bring together the worlds of folk, rock, blues and more in an effusive harmony, highlighted by the individual strengths brought by each of the group’s singer-songwriters, Chris Arruda, Cory Woodward and Ryan McMahon.
Coincidentally, Lion Bear Fox never set out with the intention of becoming a band. Arruda, Woodward and McMahon had each found varying degrees of success on their own in the time leading up to the spring of 2012.
As Arruda tells us, however, it was a tour that McMahon was undertaking that ended up being the catalyst that brought them together.
“Ryan was getting ready to go on the road back in the spring of 2012 in support of a record that he had released, but he wanted to have some support for the tour,” Arruda says. “He and I had previously crossed paths on Vancouver Island, where I grew up, and had also known Cory for a number of years. So he asked us to join him on a tour that spanned from Vancouver to Winnipeg.”
While every show on that tour served to highlight the individual talents of each of the three performers, Arruda says it was the final show in the Manitoban capital that helped them realize that they should be making music together.
“We had definitely formed a bond over the course of that tour. We had a lot in common: Each of us had existed in the singer-songwriter realm, but we each also had the experiences of being a part of other bands, and, when it came down to it, all of those experiences mattered,” Arruda notes.
“Over the course of that tour, we had begun backing one another up during our respective sets, so much so that by the time the show in Winnipeg arrived, the three of us took to the stage together. The reaction was just so overwhelmingly positive that we knew making music together was an avenue that we needed to explore.”
Asked what he feels sets Lion Bear Fox apart from the solo work they had undertaken prior to joining forces, Arruda believes that it is the combination of their voices that has helped fuel interest in the group.
“We each came from different backgrounds, are very different singers from one another, and approach writing songs differently, but when you put the three of us together, it’s something that is greater than the sum of its parts. People want to be a part of that. In my experience, people love hearing strong voices join together as one. It’s powerful.”
The decision to move forward as a band quickly paid off for the trio. In 2012, Lion Bear Fox was selected as one of the Top 20 Unsigned Bands in B.C. as a part of the Peak Performance Project.
The next year, the band released its debut EP, We’d Be Good Men, supporting the effort with more than a dozen tours that brought them to virtually all corners of Canada.
Earlier this year, the group holed up in a remote location in B.C. to record the highly-anticipated follow-up effort, which is due for release in late 2016 or early 2017.
Recorded with Nygel Asselin (Half Moon Run), Arruda says their upcoming record marks an important step forward for the band.
“With our first release, we had overseen almost all aspects of the recording process ourselves. Going into the making of this new album though, we came to realize that the three of us very different ideas of where songs can go, and so we made the decision to bring in Nygel to serve as a producer. Having the benefit of an outside ear to help steer the ship and bring together those individual elements was important for us this time around.”
What: Lion Bear Fox
When: Wednesday July 6, 7 p.m.
Where: Caseley Park, located beside Riverview Town Hall
This show is free and open to all ages. In the event of rain, the show moves to Riverview Community Centre, 145 Lakeside Dr.