In August of '95, Tommy finally found drummer Gersh (Tender Fury, Cathedral Of Tears), guitarist Marc Solomon (The Clowns, Careless) and bassist Robert Cooper (The Pete Droge Band) to complete Perfect, the full-fledged, symbiotic unit he'd strived for. "In a lot of ways, Perfect embodies something about the whole band vibe that I hadn't even anticipated," Tommy gushes. "Everyone has an opinion and brings something to the musical table. It's not me just saying, 'You do this, you do this and you do this.' I walk in with my part and they add theirs, and it comes off sounding like a band!" This collaborative effort is especially successful onstage - just ask anyone wowed by their rocket-fueled South By Southwest performances earlier this year - because even though Tommy is an engaging frontman, each member is a vital part of the show with his own personality and charm. It's obvious from the way all four members feed off each others' manic energy that Perfect is not a one-man solo project.
Besides capturing that elusive magic of being in a true band, Tommy has also come full circle in another way, by rejoining forces with Peter Jesperson - the man who originally signed and managed the Replacements and at one time was even young Tommy's legal guardian. "He raised me well!" Tommy laughs. On a more serious note he continues, "We had sort of drifted apart for awhile, and it wasn't until my brother's funeral that I saw Peter, and I thought, life's too short to be losing great friends, and to not have someone in my life that basically was my musical mentor before I was even able to understand music." Soon after this fateful meeting Peter coincidentally moved to Perfect's home base of Los Angeles, where he saw them play live and was understandably impressed; before long, plans were underway for Peter's label Medium Cool to release Perfect's debut E.P., When Squirrels Play Chicken.
This sharp, snappy guitar-pop E.P., produced by Don Smith (Keith Richards, Cracker, Bash And Pop), has been accurately described by Peter as "Johnny Thunders meets Cheap Trick." From the triumphant harmony-laden sing-along "Makes Me Happy," to the caustic, tribal, Adam and the Ants-flavored "Alternative Monkey," to the undeniably anthemic "Don't Need To Know Where," the E.P. remarkably captures the infectious sense of fun and the unstoppable intensity of Perfect's buzz-garnering live shows. "It's the difference between writing by yourself in the attic and writing with other guys and playing live," is how Tommy compares the E.P. to Bash And Pop's Friday Night Is Killing Me. "When I went on the road for the Bash And Pop album, it felt like I didn't write it to play live. So I got out there and I was like, whoa...this doesn't rock! That's the fundamental difference with Perfect. "