Tiger Breaks: Powerful return

by Joslynn Vasquez

courtesy photo

Have you ever held onto something so as to perfect it? Say, on a project until it was ready for consumption, perfect enough to share with the world? Phil Parhamovich has. Now going by Landry Walker in his long-time-coming band Tiger Breaks, he single-handedly concocts a lip-smacking fusion of funky electronica, thick grooving rock ‘n’ roll, and seducing summer-time pop. After four years in the making, he’s taking his self-titled EP out on the road for the first time this summer. And the best part is, he doesn’t even consider it finished.

Phil grew up in Cleveland, lives now in Wisconsin, but spent a great deal of time in Bellingham, living in nearby Lummi Island, entranced by the culture, the air, the dilapidated houses worthy of restoration. Having had gone to art school in Nova Scotia, Walker appreciated how Bellingham had a European feel to it, “people young and old riding their bikes, it just seemed like this safe place to be, to hangout, and that was kind of rare for me,” he said. “And Bellingham has this perfect, totally chill country feel, has a small population, but a lot of really cool stuff going on, a lot of movements that I could really get behind.”

Phil spent his time here rocking out in a band called The Dirt Brothers but had to leave to stay close to his little girl. He followed his child east, to the Midwest, where he currently owns a venue fit for a jamboree: a barn on a farm on the Kickapoo river called Mr. Phil’s Soggy Bottom Supper Club. He scored a studio called Sea Lab from the owner of a large building in downtown Madison for “next to nothing” because the owner liked the idea of a music studio in the building. Simple as that. Walker has been writing an ever-evolving five song EP for four years, a process he started even before the studio. “Things just kept changing and the genre was evolving and we had these deadlines to meet for all these summer festivals so I was just like you know what? Let’s set a deadline. Let’s set up tour for July, make sure the band is together, and just use this tour to force the band into existence. My goal is to get back from tour and really have it sound exactly how we want by October,” he said over the phone. “What better time to see what we’re made of than on tour?”

When we talked, he was filling his new keyboard player in on all their parts. The way he talked about his process made me excited – making music is one of the most magical things in this world and I could tell he has an immense passion for what he does. He told me when he first conceptualized this record, he hadn’t the skills he has now to see it to fruition at the time. He describes it as this record being already present in the universe, feelings or experiences, ready to be tapped into, waiting, even. “The better I get at the programs I’m working with, the better it will come through. I trust it, I want it to resonate instinctually with my gut, but I don’t need to completely understand it,” he admitted.

When asked about the Bellingham Curse and whether or not he believed in such a tall tale, Walker laughed and asked what it was. I described to him the phenomena of Bellingham residents being drawn back to this place by uncanny circumstances, forces within the universe that seemed to bring them back.

“I can tell you right off the bat I’m excited to hear about this,” his smile audible through the phone. “It was so hard to leave, I felt like I had found my home. Maybe somehow things could swing around so that I can finally move back there. I would love that.”

MORE INFO: See Walker and his traveling band at the Green Frog on July 23. For more about the band, see www.tigerbreaks.org.

Published in the July 2016 issue of What’s Up! Magazine