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Where harmonies meet honest songwriting

Vancouver folk-rock band Lion Bear Fox perform at the Maury Young Arts Centre on March 15.

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Christopher Arruda, the "Lion" in the Vancouver folk-rock band Lion Bear Fox, is doing a rather lion-hearted thing.

He's on the road, on his way to Buntzen Lake on the North Shore for a day of backcountry hiking.

The thing is, dodgy weather is on the way — a whack of snow and cooler temperatures. But at this point in the conversation it's just raining heavily.

"You essentially walk up past Buntzen Lake and you can essentially overlook Deep Cove. It's really nice. You hike the whole ridge, it's about 22 kilometres, so we're going to run most of it," he says.

Does this plug into what he tries to do musically?

"For me, it does. I really made a commitment. I had a checkered past in my younger days. I was playing in harder rock bands, I did a lot of partying," he explains.

"I try to live a balanced life now and work on my physical strength. It dictates how I live the rest of my life. I go to the gym, and try to do a lot of hiking and trail running. Even when we're on tour, I try to run every day. It makes me happier and more mentally focussed."

Rawr.

Lion Bear Fox was formed in 2012 by organ player Arruda, with Cory Woodward (Bear) on guitar and bass, and Ryan McMahon (Fox) on guitar. The three are so nicknamed because of both looks and character.

They released their debut EP We'd Be Good Men in 2013.

The group is known for its powerful vocals, which they bring into harmony.

Their songwriting style could be described as reflective.

"All three of us are songwriters. We're equal partners in this, and I would say that this (desire to look deeper) extends through all three of us," Arruda says.

"It's a conscious choice we make. We believe as a band that you have to live to your purpose in life."

The inner journey, living an examined life, is what matters, he adds.

"Our first record was about that, if you think of the title. The whole world would be a better place, let's be honest, if there were better men around," Arruda says.

"It's like there are two kinds of men. You can be the alpha male, quick to anger, violent guys. Or you can be the Poindexter, the sensitive guy who gets his lunch money stolen.

"But it's time to acknowledge that we're better than that. There is the middle ground where we can grasp all of ourselves. That's what the band is about. Exorcising your demons and getting out there and feeling your feelings."

He laughs.

The trio have all been frontmen of rock bands in their time, and this different approach to music has meant checking egos at the door.

"The kinds of guys we are, we don't compete for the spotlight. We were really ready to take steps back when needed and play support to each other," Arruda says.

Lion Bear Fox are performing at the Maury Young Arts Centre as part of the Arts Whistler Presents! series. They play on Wednesday, March 15 at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the 19-plus show are $22.50 for Arts Whistler members and $25 for adults.

Their first album the eponymous Lion Bear Fox was released in February.

The album blends folk, roots, rock, gospel and blues and kicks off with the single, "Battle Of Me."

"We sat down a lot and discussed how we wanted to create the album. When we were in the studio each morning, we would try to work on one song a day. We were livestreaming our work in the studio, but we would step away from the cameras and look at the lyrics. Really dig in and see what they were," he says.

They agreed that nothing would be too sacred to change. If any idea didn't sit well, they would tear the words apart and ask how it could engage more people or make more sense.

"We make it the best it can be. It was super challenging at times, but I think it shows in the record. It's a really strong record. I think we succeeded in creating something that speaks to people and hopefully sounds timeless. That was our goal," Arruda says.

For more information, visit www.thelionthebearthefox.com. Tickets are available at www.artswhistler.com.

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