Perry was unable to make the UO track team; but, as the saying goes, when one door closes another opens, and when the gates to Hayward Field closed, the stage door blew wide open. Perry chose bands over chemical bonds and race bibs and dropped out of school, forming The Daddies with classmates.
The seven-piece band played its first show at the W.O.W. Hall on March 31, 1989. Eight years and countless gigs up and down the West Coast later, they put together a compilation album of previously recorded swing songs, including a new song called “Zoot Suit Riot.” The album went double platinum, selling more than two million copies; the single went to No. 15 on Billboard’s Modern Rock charts and the video was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award.
By the time their next album was released, the mainstream swing revival was in its last days. The Daddies were released by their label, and exhausted from a decade of constant touring, went on hiatus.
That left Perry with free time he hadn’t had when playing 300 shows a year—free time he dedicated to pursuing his other passion: science.
“I thought, my degree is something I’ve left undone,” he said. “One day I woke up and walked down to Oregon Hall, and said, ‘This is stupid, but is it possible for me to reenroll and get a biology degree?’”