Animalistic rock and roll comes to Vernon

A lion, a bear, and a fox walk into an audio equipment store

A lion, a bear, and a fox walk into an audio equipment store. It could be the beginning of a terribly cheesy joke, but in this case, it’s the beginning of an intimate alternative rock show.

Vancouver’s Lion Bear Fox, on tour for the release of their debut full-length self-titled album, is playing in Vernon June 4.

“We love Vernon,” says Lion Bear Fox singer and guitarist Ryan McMahon. “Vernon, Penticton, and Kelowna all kind of feel like we’re in this B.C. desert home.”

Lion Bear Fox has played Vernon several times, McMahon says, adding that they’re starting to learn the familiar faces in Vernon’s music scene.

“We’re not like an internationally famous band,” he says.” We’re happy to be working and connecting with fans on a more grassroots level.”

And for McMahon, that’s more than enough of a payoff.

“It’s an interesting vocation. It’s neat to see how everyone connects with what’s around them.

“The world is on fire – it makes less sense the older I get. Music has always been like free therapy. For me, it’s a gift and I need to keep reminding myself of that.”

Lion Bear Fox’s brand of musical therapy blends together influences of folk, roots, rock, gospel, and blues, all connected by the powerful voices of McMahon, Christopher Arruda, and Cory Woodward.

“It’s really beardy, stompy, soulful rock and roll,” says McMahon.

The band’s self-titled debut album is a strong collaboration of the members’ respective solo careers.

“Once we got the help of the producer on board, we really buckled down,” McMahon says. “We had about 50 songs to wittle down. To finally have it out is awesome.”

Lion Bear Fox is comprised of nine songs that ebb and flow, from rock and roll anthems like Mountains, to sentimental acoustic tracks such as Walk You Home, which McMahon wrote for his wife Kathleen. McMahon, a father of three, says it’s a delicate balance between being on the road for his music career and staying home with his family, and it’s one that isn’t always easy to keep on track.

“This song is kind of a reminder to check in,” McMahon says. “It’s an honour to sing it every night. I think (Kathleen) likes it, if the tears the first time she heard it are any indication.”

Overall, recording their new release was a substantial undertaking, he says.

“It certainly marks a shift in sound and seriousness for Chris, Cory, and myself. When we use the phrase ‘record of our lives,’ we’re not kidding.”

Arruda agrees.

“This is an album of three men telling their truths together through art they believe in,” Arruda says.

“When people ask us how this album sounds, we’ve taken to saying ‘it sounds like truth.’ In the studio, we were both fearless and relentless in our approach to crafting this album. We tore these songs apart and put them back together over and over again, in an attempt to make something that sounded timeless. The songs have elements of rock, folk, blues, and gospel, but ultimately, I think we were successful in building a sonic-landscape where our three voices sat on top of the instrumentation. We didn’t let the music get in the way of the song or the story.”

Each band member is represented in the band’s name. Arruda is the lion for his ferocity and his substantial lion tattoo. Woodward, who is of Metis descent, is the bear because it is his spirit animal. Finally, McMahon is the fox.

“I’m told I’m very wily and handsome,” McMahon laughs. “When you meet us, you know who is who right away.”

But for the lion, the bear, and the fox, it’s all about the camaraderie of music.

“We want to make the best music we can possibly make and remain friends in the process.”

Lion Bear Fox is on tour for their debut self-titled release, and are performing at Spinners Sound and Audio’s Okanagan Rail Trail Backyard Fundraiser Bash June 4 at 4603 Briggs Rd. Music starts at 3 p.m. Tickets are available for $30 at Spinners Sound and Audio.

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