Music Spotlight: Lion Bear Fox

Three distinct yet collective voices, B.C.’s Lion Bear Fox make their Newfoundland debut ahead of their awaited debut LP. Ryan ‘Fox’ McMahon catches up with The Herald for our latest Q&A.


Q: You guys will be hitting Newfoundland at length this February. I know you’ve played on the east coast previously, but will this be your first visit to the island?

A: This is our first time in Newfoundland. We’re really excited. We’ve heard some great things about the venues we’re playing. It kind of feels like we’ve been blessed with the ability to skip a couple of steps. When we were all growing up as individual singer-songwriters we had to do our open mics and our cafes and all of that stuff and now we get to go to Moncton and play the Capital Theatre and come to St. John’s and play The Ship. It’s going to be a blast.

Q: It’s great because with the five dates here you’re really going to get a strong sense of the place and people. Curious what your thoughts were on the east coast vibe when you previously toured here?

A: We’ve played all over the rest of the country and we were all kind of floored by the hospitality. Everyone is so jacked to see you. I don’t want to crap on B.C. at all because it’s my home, but it’s not always the same out here and it’s not always the same in bigger centers too. When we did Moncton it really stood out. We played some really small places too, I remember a place called Margaretsville, really small. You get there and you’re looking at the Atlantic and everyone is so happy. It’s just the best, and then there’s this east coast accent.

Q: You guys are releasing your debut LP, self-titled, on February 17th, so this tour should really serve as a good pre-cursor to that. I know all three of you guys are active songwriters, so compiling enough tracks for this record shouldn’t have been too problematic?

A: Because there is three songwriters in our band, it’s not the frontman kind of situation with us. There are three frontmen. There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen and a lot of different influences. When we first started the sessions for this record we had 40 songs. I mean I wrote my ass off and I’m just one of the guys. I wrote 15 songs over one summer. We had to not be sacred about them. We brought our producer in and he chose his favourites and that can be a real hard process on the ego, because maybe you have three in your mind that you think are really strong , but god you hope he likes them. We are a band that needs to have that extra set of ears, not only to tell us yeah you’re doing a good job, but moreso to tell us no. We would have made a f***in double album.

Q: I understand the band name Lion Bear Fox actually refers to the spirit animals of all three of you. That’s quite unique and a hell of a story.

A: I certainly can’t take credit when talking about the inception of that whole idea, but we wanted to be a band where it was obvious that this was three distinctive, separate personalities, which all three of us certainly are. Cory is a big lovable bear, Chris is a fierce lion and I’m a wily, sarcastic if I don’t mind saying so fox. When we came up with that it was just kind of a bit of a no-brainer.

Q: A bit of a cliched question, but since this will be the first time Newfoundland audiences will lay eyes and ears on you live, what can we expect from Lion Bear Fox in a performance setting?

A: It’s beardy truthy honest rock ‘n’ roll folk bluesy soul music. We’re going to tell you the stories of where we’re from and stories of the world as we see it. We’re going to laugh, make you think and make you laugh some more. We emerge as better men every day and that’s sort of one of the messages we’ve been taking with us everywhere we’ve gone, that we’re not always problems to be fixed we just have to do a little bit better than we did the day before. I think that kind of resonates, especially with young fellas, because that’s kind of who we are. I think if we can fix the men a little bit I think this world would be a nicer place to live in.

Q: In these turbulent times, especially recently, we could use more of that right? And what better outlet than the arts? Not many better healers than music.

A: That’s right and the people that are on the stage and people out watching the show, it’s not us and performing to you, it’s almost more of a power lunch and here we should discuss things together. That’s what the three of us always enjoy our time at the merch table afterwards, because it’s not just about selling your product, it’s always the people that we meet and the stories they have for us. That’s the best part.

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